A Lesson From Swedish House Mafia

“You’re how old? 22? Oh you have your entire life ahead of you.”

There are times when the crushing weight of being a college graduate smacks me in the back of the head. This obnoxious thought can occur while I’m dong anything, literally anything. Classic scenario:

At the gym, sweating out my thoughts thanks to the EDM music pumping from my 8tracks playlist, into my earphones, and through my brain. I’m running at a solid pace with no issue for about six minutes, and then suddenly the exertion hits. And I just want to stop running. At this point, my thoughts usually go something like “keep going… wait this hurts too much… why do people run… why am I running…” and I know it’s time to switch up the song for fresh motivation. I press the >> button without looking, and with the opening bars of one particular song, my heart drops.

“Don’t you worry, don’t you worry child.” Ohhh Swedish House Mafia. Their song Don’t You Worry Child brings me back to a dark, crowded party where there’s no room to breathe because all the college students are packed so closely together. There’s barely room to dance, but we can’t not dance to this song. And it sounds rough – the girls have given up on their hair and tossed them into piles on their heads. The guys are wandering aimlessly, looking for that girl they’ve noticed in their class and knows through so-and-so, but never really talked to in daylight. But all of that just adds more to the appeal of this song. Because as soon as it starts, the sweaty hair and the searching for a dance partner no longer matters. When everyone hears those first lines “There was a time…” you’re all a part of a collective, not-so-harmonious, sweaty family. You’re surrounded by people who are completely present in that moment. And with Swedish House Mafia telling you not to worry, for some reason, you’re actually believing it. You’re completely free.

And these days I reflect on the irony of the song itself. Not that I was thinking about it when I was dancing with friends in dark, stuffy rooms with the speakers nearly busting my ears out. The singer is reminiscing about being a kid and experiencing his first heartbreak. His father is trying to keep him calm and let him know – somehow – there’s a plan, no worries, life will work out. Pretty deep for an EDM song.

When adults tell me I have my whole life ahead of me, I’ll admit I’m terrified and I don’t completely believe them. It’s difficult to imagine feeling that free and open ever again. Or discovering a new song in the future that will give me that same feeling. Although college was full of other contradicting emotions – stress & comfort, fear & confidence, jealousy & gratitude – Don’t You Worry Child will always remind me how to be present in the moment. AKA what academics and psychologists deem as “mindfulness.” And that is a precious, difficult skill to master.

You may be reading this thinking, I hate that song. First I ask how is that possible, it’s the perfect pick me up song. But even if you hate it you know the moment I’m talking about. So to all college graduates, I’m advising you to find your own version of Don’t You Worry Child. And when you start thinking too much about your job, your job search, or how much you miss when your Monday didn’t start until 1:40, play that song so loud your eardrums hurt. Play it until you stop thinking, and start just being. “See heaven’s got a plan for you (us?)” Spilled beer, screeching singers, stage dancing, and all. TC mark

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