From Pain to Playlist: Turning Struggles into Song

As I take some time to let my mind recover from an intensely beautiful weekend at TEDxRockville [among some other soul-filling events], I find myself reflecting on my second time on the stage at Lurn Inc in Rockville, MD, - this time giving myself permission to really sit in the experience this time, compared to my last TEDx Talk - where I promptly rushed to perform another gig that same night.

Not this time.

The experiences of both events have been rewarding in so many ways, but this year was especially powerful for my 2023 self. Why? This year, I wasn't just talking... there was a much bigger emphasis on my original music, and how it has served, and continues to serve me emotionally and mentally.

So over the next few weeks, as I continue to absorb, reflect, and celebrate my self-awareness and growth using music, I'm going to share some of the lessons learned from writing my music, sure, but specifically from presenting about my vulnerability, authenticity and growth through that music on the TEDx stage.

Today, for lesson number one, I want to emphasize something that is rather near and dear to me - as I've struggled with it for a long time, and that is:

The importance of celebrating your wins and lessons, particularly through the powerful medium of music... because, let's face it: we're all doing the best we can at any given time.

Remember, each one of us is the hero of our own story, and, while it's good [and important even] to be able to reflect on our "mistakes", it is crucial to acknowledge and celebrate our growth instead of dwelling on regrets.

Embrace Growth, Not Regrets

Often, we find ourselves looking back and regretting certain decisions or actions. Hindsight is indeed 2020, but that clarity usually comes as a result of our increased knowledge and awareness gained over time through the "mistakes" we've made. We must recognize that this growth is a natural part of our journey and not something to be ashamed of. Instead of allowing regret to overshadow our progress, we should celebrate the fact that we are always doing the best we can with the resources and understanding we have at any given moment.

It would be ridiculous for a newbie at the gym to squat 200lbs on their first attempt at the rack. Instead, said newbie will need to work up to that weight, recognizing that they will have days where their bodies don't perform at their peak... that their bodies will need rest. It's the same for our emotional and mental strength. We all have off days. But at all times: we're all doing the best we can. Embrace that.

Incorporate the Power of Music

Music has an incredible ability to touch our souls and convey emotions that words alone often fail to capture. It serves as a channel through which we can express our thoughts, feelings, and anxieties. For every, but especially teenagers, who often grapple with the complexities of their changing emotions and self-identity, music can be an invaluable tool for self-expression and empowerment. By engaging in music and songwriting, young individuals can find solace, connect with others who share similar experiences, and gain a profound sense of validation.

This is especially key for those aforementioned growth points. Not only is it easy for us to get caught up, or trip over our mistakes and failures, but it's almost impossible not to ruminate on them.

By turning our growth pains into theme songs about victory, resilience, and overcoming: it suddenly becomes a lot more manageable to shift our focus on to success. Even better: if it's a catchy song: it'll be far easier to remember and repeat back to yourself every other time a mistake is made, a plan goes wrong, or you simply get caught up in your feelings.

Celebrate Your Wins

In a society that often emphasizes perfection and achievements, it is essential to take a step back and acknowledge our wins, big and small. Each milestone, no matter how insignificant it may seem, deserves celebration. There's a saying that "No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch", yet we tend to forget that part.

We tend to want to compare our struggle bus to everyone's highlight reels instead... and that's not helpful at all.

Instead: take the time to honor your progress... high-five yourself in mirror Mel Robbins style... create a celebration playlist and have a you-dance party... or better yet: write your own winning songs. We can all create anthems that commemorate our triumphs, reminding ourselves of the progress we have made and the obstacles we have overcome.

By celebrating our wins, we cultivate a positive mindset, fueling our motivation and confidence to tackle future challenges.

Embrace Lessons

Alongside celebrating victories, it is equally important to embrace the lessons learned from our failures, setbacks, and mistakes. Rather than dwelling on past missteps, we can transform them into valuable learning opportunities. Music provides a safe space to reflect on our experiences, distill the wisdom gained, and transform those lessons into meaningful lyrics and melodies. By doing so, we create a narrative of growth and resilience, reminding ourselves that our journey is one of continuous self-improvement.

This is especially important for Gen Z, or adults who are still struggling with trauma from their teen years.

As we navigate the complex landscape of adolescence, it is vital for teenagers, in particular, to find outlets for self-expression and personal growth. Music, with its profound ability to channel thoughts, emotions, and anxieties, serves as a remarkable medium for empowerment.

And I know it can feel daunting - especially if you've never written a song before.

But there are some great song-writing hacks that we can use when it comes to stepping into our inner Max Martin or Billie Eilish - even if you're not a singer.

  1. Just show up

  2. Be authentic and honest with yourself

  3. Let creativity be your security blanket

  4. There are no mistakes - only room for growth

  5. Think of your verses as the story telling

  6. Think of your chorus as the morale of the story

  7. Finally: think of your bridge as the final punch-to-the-feelings to really take the moral home.

Remember, you are the hero of your own story. Embrace your wins, no matter how small, and celebrate your growth. Cherish the lessons learned from your challenges and weave them into the fabric of your musical journey. Through writing your own empowering song [or songs!], you can transform your experiences into something beautiful and inspiring, creating a soundtrack that amplifies your resilience and celebrates the unique individual you are becoming.

If you're intrigued and want to know more about using music and songwriting to help you lean into your lessons, and celebrate your wins through music, click here to hop on a free discovery call with me.

In the mean time, take some time to listen to following tracks to help remind you about your awesomeness!

  • T Pain - Motivated

  • Katy Perry - Rise

  • Bob Dylan - The Times They Are a-Changin

  • Destiny's Child - Independent Woman

  • Alicia Keys - Superwoman

  • Elton John - I'm Still Standing

  • Imagine Dragons - Rise Up

  • Tupac - Keep Your Head Up

  • Emma G - Living Proof [hey, I had to throw one of mine in there - keep an eye out for it in my upcoming TEDx Talk which will be dropping soon online!]


~ Emma G

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