By the time you’re reading this, I’ll have already gotten myself dressed and ready to go to my Master’s graduation ceremony, graduated, and celebrated. As an undergrad, I knew I would be experiencing this day at some point as I had always planned on going back to school. Still, the fact that this day is already here is kind of surreal.
This week I wanted to incorporate some music picks and reflections from 3 of the incredible people I’ve met in grad school-Christina, Lizzie, and Lesly- as a tribute to the friendships we’ve made over the last several years. And of course, I’m slipping in a few of my own picks too, songs that remind me of them or contain a message that I want them to hear as we all continue on in our lives and careers.
“Hold My Hand”
Last spring, I did a 10-day study abroad in Ireland, which is where I met my boyfriend and where I really solidified many wonderful friendships. I decided to go on a whim (and by a whim I mean I had less than an hour left to leave my deposit and didn’t even tell my professor, oops), and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I was friends with one girl going (Lesly), friendly with another (Lizzie), and pretty unfamiliar with the 9 others (including Christina, though I had had one class with her). Nonetheless, this trip was the catalyst for true, honest, real deal friendships with all three. We spent a few nights in Dublin after an intense week of class to wrap up the study abroad experience, so of course, we needed a night out. We picked a random bar on a random street because we heard music blaring from it and wanted to dance!
“Hold My Hand” was already popular back home, but when the DJ played this song, we all freaked out, sang it at the top of our lungs, and quickly made it one of “our songs.” Hearing it again today actually brought a tear to my eye as I reminisced all that has happened because of and since that trip. The piano chords immediately give me chills and will forever make me think of Dublin and my girls.
“You’ve Lost That Loving Feelin'”
The Righteous Brothers
When I first saw her song choice, I did a double take as I never expected it to be Christina’s pick. She is such an 80’s music girl so I was totally anticipating some John Mellencamp or Bruce Springsteen. After reading what this song means to her, I’m not surprised by it at all:
“You've lost that loving feeling reminds me of my niece, Riley. Not necessarily the lyrics but I used to play records with her from when she was an infant until about 2 years old before she moved away. I had a Righteous Brothers record that I was obsessed with at the time and happened to play on repeat. I would dance to this song with her pretty much every day. As Riley got older she would point to the record player and if I didn't put that song on she would shake her head no until it was played. It became a ritual for us. She began singing some words too!”
Christina absolutely loves her family and is the proudest aunt I think I’ve ever met. She Skyped with her niece and nephew often when we were in Ireland, and she always glows when speaking about the time she gets to spend with them. Christina and I have grown very close in a matter of a year, and I quickly learned that she does everything in her life with love, warmth, and positivity.
She treats her friends like family and is the type of person who you can meet once, and in a matter of minutes, you feel that you’ve known her your entire life. She is welcoming and incredibly down to earth, which for an introvert like me is something that I embrace wholeheartedly, especially with a person is as wonderful as she is. I admire the passion she has for the important people in her life, and really people in general, and am so thankful to have become one of them.
“When Alessia's music first came out I was a fan of her style, but I remember this song sticking out to me because of the timing of my life events at that time. Our trip to Ireland in April 2016 really started a fire in me and an awareness of the parts of me I needed to become okay with, the parts I needed to let go, and the parts I needed and wanted to shine forth.
These lyrics just seemed to encompass the person I so badly wanted to become. I listened to this song those few months following that trip as a way to reminisce on my experience and the friendships I made. I saw the girls on the trip in this song as well, and it brought me great nostalgia.
The meaning of the song soon transformed and truly represented the new person I was becoming because, at the time, the problems in my relationship were becoming too big to ignore. I was constantly listening to this song in the car, belting it at the top of my lungs and wanting so bad for the words to truly represent me. In the song Alessia sings, ‘find your great, don't hide your face, let it shine.’ As my relationship was coming to an end, on my terms, I didn't know it at the time but my time to shine was going to come.
Listening to the song again made me a little choked up because a year later I can confidently say that I have become the person that Lizzie from a year ago wanted to become. I have a lot of people and experiences to thank for that and I have this song as a tangible reminder.“
Lizzie and I met each other right away as we were two of three girls to start grad school in the spring of 2015 (Lesly being the third). I remember sitting in a meeting with her before the semester started, going over courses and schedules, liking what she was wearing, and feeling good vibes from her without knowing a thing about her. We talked on the way to our cars and when her reason for getting her masters in Creative Arts Therapy was identical to mine, I knew there was bound to be a friendship there.
Lizzie has this strong sense of confidence, even when she may be feeling a little unsure of herself on the inside. She’s trusted me to help her work through some tough times, and even when she’s feeling vulnerable, her strength shines through. Her ability to hold her head high in the midst of tough situations motivates me to do the same, and her nurturing nature reminds me that I can turn to her when my own tough situations knock me down. This girl is a force to be reckoned with.
“Sobre Las Olas”
The Latin Brothers
“Everything about this classic salsa song reminds me of my Colombian roots, and simply living happily. The second I hear it, I want to jump up and start dancing and having fun!
I wouldn't have made it this far without the support of my family, no matter how close or distant we are; they've been encouraging and supporting me throughout this all of graduate school. I've learned that it's alright to fly as far as we can, but to never forget about our roots. My family has come a long, long way in all aspects, for me to be here: I’m first-generation American, and the first member of the family graduating with an M.A. It's still surreal to me!!
The lyrics are about someone walking around their city and happily greeting others. It brings such a positive feeling to go around spreading cheer, even with a slight hand wave or greeting. Sometimes even the simplest things bring encouragement.“
Lesly was my first art therapy friend! I think we both recognized the lost puppy dog look in each other during the first week of classes and gravitated towards each other, but we clicked instantly. She is such a free spirit, and though she has gone through her fair share of hard times, she never seems to let any of it bring her down.
Lesly is the type of girl who’ll acknowledge what she’s feeling, talk it out, and then say “I really want some dumplings, do you want to go get dumplings?” She is someone who is not afraid to go for what she wants, whether it be for job opportunities, travel opportunities, or random food opportunities.
This song and her description of it totally encompass who she is, and who I see her to be: cheerful, positive, and very grounded in her roots. We’ve shared a lot of things together, between being roomies in Ireland to interning together, and her go-with-the-flow attitude is something that really helps brighten the day.
I have gotten choked up so many times this week. I’ve been listening to the playlist I made for Ireland since Monday which has contributed to all of these memories flooding back and all of the emotions flooding in. The songs on it are fun and uplifting, and of course, some reminded me of the trip.
“I Lived” is ALL about the lyrics for me- full of wise words, well wishes and beautifully sung advice that only begins to scratch the surface of what I’d like to say to these girls. I could include some lyrics here but I’d wind up writing out the entire song-they’re definitely worth checking out.
All of the friends I’ve made in grad school have this hunger, this fire inside to see the world, help the world, and change the world in one way or another. Their passion, not only for art therapy but for life in general, inspires me every day to continue working hard and living the best life I know how to, which is exactly what this song encompasses. I am discovering for myself how important it is to do everything you possibly can in this life, to seize opportunities and to make the most of every situation you’re in. I hope and pray that all of these wonderful girls do the same.
I feel that I’ve become a stronger person because of knowing all of them and do my best to remind them often about how grateful I am to have them in my life. It’s an amazing to feel when you find “your people;” I found some of my people as an undergrad who I’ve held on to tightly since then. To have found another group of people who I know completely understand and accept me is something I feel truly blessed to have.
Anam Cara, soul friend.
“Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”
This “song” is actually an adaptation of a hypothetical commencement speech that was written as an article for the Chicago Tribune in 1997 (fun fact that I never knew until now!). Baz Luhrmann, who did the score for The Great Gatsby, transformed it into a song that, for me, has become a very poignant reference for challenges, struggles, and being grateful for what I have. So consider this my graduation send-off! In the moments when I feel I’m losing my way, overwhelmed, or need to be reminded of what’s important, I pull this song out of my back pocket and regain a perspective of gratitude for what I have and for what’s to come. The future is bright, my friends.
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