In the section Nostalgia Tracks, team members discuss their favorite songs, ones that they have a deep connection with. In this installment, contributing writer Baylee Less discusses embracing her true self by way of Avril Lavigne’s 2002 song, “My World.”
During my childhood, my parents would take my brother and I on weekly trips to Borders (RIP). On these outings, we were allowed to purchase a single book, CD, magazine, set of gel pens, etc to take home and enjoy. One fateful afternoon as I perused the sea of compatible disks, I stumbled upon Avril Lavigne’s debut album Let Go. By that time “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated” had infiltrated the radio waves and this third grader going on thirty idolized Lavigne’s punk-rock power attitude. I grabbed the hard plastic case enthusiastically, but little did I know how much this album would truly influence my life (case and point I’m writing an essay on it ten years later). Once our green clanky minivan pulled under our carport, I flew out of the car, up the stairs, and landed in front of my sparkly blue boombox. I’d have the whole album memorized before our next weekly trip to Borders.
Never wore cover-up,
Always beat the boys up,
Grew up in a 5000 population town,
Made my money by cutting grass,
Got fired by fried chicken ass,
All in a small town, Napanee.
– “My World,” Avril Lavigne
Listen: “My World” – Avril Lavigne
Although the entirety of Let Go really spoke to the tom-boy, insecure young girl in me, the ’90s acoustic rock track “My World” really summed up my life up until then and the rest of my middle school days. I’m from the suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee which function as a small town; our life is slower here and the sentiment of “everyone knows everyone” rings true. I preferred to throw a baseball with the boys than to play dress up with the girls, and I didn’t wear any makeup until sophomore year of high school. I was never bullied or really excluded from groups, but I did always feel different and embraced being alone. Although most preteens would struggle with this feeling of weirdness, I never did and that’s because I had Avril Lavigne to let me know I wasn’t isolated in these feelings. In all honesty, she made me feel confident of my eccentricity.
In this head my thoughts are deep,
But sometimes I can’t even speak.
As fourth and fifth grade pasted, I lost a few close relatives to death earlier than anyone should ever have to. Grief was hard to manage for a 12 year-old and impossible to describe to peers. My family offered to listen, but my solace emerged from an old dear friend named music. Several other pop-punk queens claimed spots in my collection by then including Michelle Branch, Ashlee Simpson, and Kelly Clarkson, yet none seemed to stir my brewing emotions the way Lavigne did. Again Let Go endlessly repeated through my portable CD player as I walked my neighborhood blocks in the evening twilight. When I first listened to this album, Lavigne’s shameless acceptance of her quirks instilled me with the confidence to be my true self, but then two years later I realized she also made me comfortable to feel sadness. Our society itches with nervousness when people begin to whisper signs of sorrow. Humans don’t know how to handle hard conversations about feeling miserable – even though we all lose our grip throughout life.
You know I always stay up without sleepin’,
And think to myself,
Where do I belong forever,
In whose arms, the time and place?
“My World” helped me feel unafraid of being alone, angry, and asking questions about things greater than myself. My mind would travel outside of my bedroom just like Lavigne’s searching for that place or person necessary for healing. Her music provided a reassurance that my unspoken thoughts weren’t bizarre or troublesome. Last week, Let Go re-entered my life for a third time, and the message still brought me joy and confidence. I graduated from college last year and moved back to my hometown. Transitioning into the “real world” provides many new and untapped challenges. You’re no longer surrounded by a large pool of relatively available friends, work days can be long, bills pile and pile, and you have to navigate your way through the larger community of your city. As I began to feel out of place again, I went right back to the first album I ever owned, Let Go. “My World” resounded from my car stereo as I drove through the street lights of my past and future. It felt liberating to scream a song that energized my youth and now ignites the fire of my adulthood. It felt liberating to just be weird, strange, and everything that Avril Lavigne inspired me to embrace. Anyways, just here to remind people how incredibly breathtaking it is when people are their true and whole selves – and how it’s always been in style because of musicians that refuse conformity like Avril Lavigne.
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