TUESDAY TUNES: Songs for Growth
Welcome to Tuesday Tunes, our monthly series bringing you songs to match whatever challenge or triumph you may be facing as you navigate life in your twenties.
I just turned twenty-five.
What a strange thing to say. Twenty-five was an age that, for much of my life, sounded old and cool. And yet here I am, feeling largely neither. I still can’t put my eyeliner on straight, I still ask my parents for help with taxes, and I’d still give just about anything to be in college again. I don’t feel old most days. But I like feeling young. I like dancing at concerts and laughing at bars and surrounding myself with new and old friends. I like thinking about everything I’ve accomplished so far in my twenties, and taking moments to be excited for the dreams ahead.
But then I put on a blazer and heels for a work presentation, and feel like I’m faking it all. Or I hunt for an apartment, and am paralyzed with fear to finally leave my childhood home. Or I miss my friends, and wonder if I’ll ever be old enough for distance to stop hurting. I’m lonely a lot, and I don’t text back sometimes. I was never a kid who was scared of the dark, but now I’m a twenty-five-year-old who’s suddenly, frequently scared to not know what the future holds.
I didn’t know what I’d look like at twenty-five. I’m not totally sure if I’ll recognize myself by twenty-six. But amid all the emotions and changes of my twenties so far, there’s one constant I can name: I love a lot of people, and I’m really loved. And that was true of the thirteen-year-old who nearly poked her own eye out in the bathroom mirror, and of the high-schooler trying to fill out tax forms for her first job, and of the college girl who found her place and her people in philosophy class. It’s true of me now, how much love surrounds me. It’s that love—and not a specific day on the calendar—that is building me into the best version of the same person I’ve always been.
Birthdays are a good reminder of the love that helps me grow. So is music. Here are five songs for the joy and confusion of growth, birthday or not.
“Why Georgia” // John Mayer
Came for that second-verse line “Might be a quarter-life crisis, or just the stirring in my soul.” Stayed for the old-school John Mayer, obviously. I always liked that line, and this song makes me unafraid of a quarter-life crisis—if a “crisis” feels like soul-stirring, then I already know that feeling well, and I can only hope to get to know it better.
“Rewrite the Stars” // The Greatest Showman soundtrack
The transition from Zac’s chorus to Zendaya’s verse is the feeling of coming up from underground and emerging on the Manhattan Bridge on a clear sunshiney day. It’s a deep breath, a moment of freedom, and underneath it all a sign of something bigger on the way, for better or worse. And lyrically, this track asks all the questions—what do I control? What’s out of my hands? And do I get to be someone different than the world has always seemed to expect?
“Old Friends” // Ben Rector
No one does nostalgia like Ben. “Old Friends” only came out in 2018, but it makes me feel the same way I always feel when I’m with my best people. This is open windows on the first day that smells like spring, and speakers up to 10 when only three people in a crowded dorm room even care what song is on. This is late nights in new cities, over giant drinks and belly-deep laughter. This is me loving my life, and still coping with the ache in my gut borne of constantly trying to hold distant friends close. This song sounds the way it feels to love and be loved from far away—a little nostalgic, a lot lucky.
“When You Were Young” // the Killers
Growing up at its loudest. A song that packs so many emotions for me I don’t even know where to begin. Endless rounds of Guitar Hero and “The Killers at Royal Albert Hall” with my brother. Sweat and beer and not leaving the overcrowded college party until this song is over. My boyfriend and his guitar on a Brooklyn stage. Layers and layers of life, building upon each other, the foundation shining through.
“Hard Feelings/Loveless” // Lorde
My favorite lyric maybe ever: “I light all my candles, cut flowers for all my rooms / I care for myself the way I used to care about you.” It’s the clearest expression of self-care I can imagine—when you outgrow old love, and pour its overflow into yourself. It’s sad and it stretches you but it’s okay, better than okay, because you’ll make it so. That’s my 25th year energy.
Windrose Magazine is your guide to navigating life in your twenties through a collection of essays, interviews, and advice that will inspire you to chart your own life course, free of comparison.
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