The Headphone Jack: Songs to survive the semester

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in the two years of college that I now have under my belt, it’s that a lot can change within a semester. What seems like the perfect definition of “you” can seem completely unfitting within 16 weeks — and that’s OK. Here are some songs that help when faced with this uncertainty and the overall discomfort that comes with the college experience. 


“Don’t Let it Get You Down” by Johnnyswim 

Whether it’s the typical stress of school or a major life change, this song is guaranteed to help crush any seemingly undefeatable obstacle. The best line comes about midway through the song: “This could be the part of you that you ain’t ever seen before / This could be the part, the part of you, you wanna be.” Personally, this line has helped me through many growing pains. The optimistic vibes this song exudes are not annoying, but instead comforting. It acknowledges that yes, things gets hard, but the person waiting at the end is worth it. 


“Golden Dandelions” by Barns Courtney 

This song fits any and every situation, and that’s not an exaggeration. Want a song with an upbeat tempo to get you moving?: “Golden Dandelions.” Craving the nostalgia of a first love? That heart-skippy, drive down a dark road smiling to yourself feeling?: “Golden Dandelions.” Imagery that’s somewhat psychedelic?: “Golden Dandelions.” Many argue that the seemingly happy song is actually about death; the protagonist is literally seeing their life flash before their eyes before going to the grave, but let’s just enjoy the wonderful imagery without thinking too much about the meaning. 


“Suit and Jacket” by Judah & the Lion 

The banjo-esque sound that opens “Suit and Jacket” signals feels will be coming, but don’t worry, it’s upbeat enough to ensure there will be no crying in the club. In short, the song is about growing older and those terrifying moments of wondering, “What the hell am I doing?” We all get them — don’t worry -— and Judah is here to provide some comfort. College is that weird place where one has to “adult” but is tasked with figuring out their future goals on top of it all. The song asserts that it’s OK to hold on to those last little glimmers of youth and to beg the world to stop spinning for just one moment. 


“Chasin’ Honey” by Wild Party 

Like “Suit And Jacket,” this song is about holding on to youth and refusing to take life too seriously. Instead of going the route of thinking about a 401k like Judah’s friends are doing, Wild Party puts it more simply: don’t choose the path that leads to the most money, and take time to grow close relationships. Personally, the song is a big f-you to all those rushing us to grow up, and I’m on board. 


“Cringe” by Matt Maeson

Upon closer examination, I’ve realized this song is probably about addiction — oof. However, I kind of view it as losing a sense of self, and I deeply identify with this. When going through a hard time, we can look unrecognizable to those we are closest to, including ourselves. This sensation is bound to happen at some point, and the stress of college is the perfect poison. While Maeson does not provide a solution for this sinking feeling, sometimes it’s just nice to know somebody out there gets it. 


“Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine

This is where my love of indie folk invades the playlist, switching up the vibe. Even though Florence is noticeably different from the rest of this list, this song fought hard to be here. Perhaps her biggest hit after “Dog Days Are Over,” Florence carries her message of hope into this song. She’s not afraid to get personal, as she’s not afraid to dive deep into her regrets and strive to see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if she nearly kills herself in the process. Inevitably, there are going to be hard times this year. Florence encourages us to find our inner strength and keep chugging along. 


“Light On” by Maggie Rogers 

Of course, Miss Maggie is making an appearance here to bring us out of the dark days with her beauty and grace. For those who have never given her a listen before, she has the most mystical voice destined to send you into a trance. To me, this song is one of unconditional support and is my go-to when I need to keep grounded in such a busy world. Maggie shows that even in the midst of success, we all get wrapped up in the feels, and can be especially relatable to those with depression and anxiety. She gets it, and she extends a hand to help us back up again. 


Even when things seem to be all figured out, one little wrinkle in the plans can feel like a catastrophic blow to college students. Sometimes, things seem to be happening way too fast. The end of a semester will approach sooner than expected with so much to get done before then. Remember, these worries are all normal, and this playlist is there to guide us. 


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