Music is a huge part of our lives. And whether you’re a singer like me and you perform songs for a living or you enjoy listening to Spotify on your way home from work, the art of music probably influences you.
When was the last time you turned on the radio? Or listened to some old Cole Porter standards? Or went to a club to watch everyone dancing and enjoying the music? Did you notice anything? Approximately 97% of the songs you hear every day are about love. Falling in love, falling out of love, loving your family, or even just the love of going out and partying. Love, love, love, it’s all around us.
In musical theatre school, we had to perform new songs in master class every two to three weeks. So let me tell you, I’ve sang a lot of love ballads in my time.
When I was in a relationship that made it easy. I sang my songs for him. I could relate to the flowery language and the dewy eyed whimsy, because I too was very much in love.
Let’s just say I had a whole new genre of songs to engage with once that relationship ended.
Now I had fuel for the heartbroken ballads, but how was I supposed to still sing about love when I was going through a time when love had failed me?
Performers all have tricks they use for their acting. Some people like Daniel Day Lewis are method actors and they live like their character even off set. Some people like my college roommate profess their love to their favorite foods, because that is their truest inspiration. My newest trick? I’ve started singing love songs to myself.
You probably have a super weird visual of me belting “And I Will Always Love You” while dramatically spinning in a field of flowers holding a picture of myself in my outstretched arms. I assure you, that is not what I mean.
I mean that it’s easy to reframe a love song as a note of encouragement to yourself. Here, take the time to really listen to your favorite love song. Go ahead, I will wait….
…now was there anything in there that you couldn’t apply to yourself? “You amaze me,” “you’re a beautiful masterpiece,” “I can’t help falling in love with you.” I don’t know about you, but I amaze myself everyday, and I do think I’m beautiful, and heck, sometimes I can’t help falling in love with this person that I’m growing to be!
Self love and romantic love are both about seeing past flaws and showing unconditional compassion. It’s not always easy in either case. Plenty of the best love songs are about working through those flaws and figuring out how to grow together. Because every day it is work and energy to love a partner, just like it can be work and energy to love ourselves.
But as Jason Mraz so eloquently sings in one of my favorite love songs: “I won’t give up on us. Even if the skies get rough. I’m giving you all my love. I’m still looking up.”
That song alone has gotten me through a lot of lows. Anytime I’m doubting myself, anytime I don’t think I’m worthy, anytime I think giving up would be easiest, I turn on “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. “I won’t give up on us.” In this case the “us” doesn’t mean me and some romantic partner. It means me and my disappointment. It means me and my strengths. It means me and my good qualities and my bad qualities. I am a summation of my choices and my experiences. I’m constantly growing and changing. And the person I am today is a collection of all the people I’ve been and all the models of myself that are still awaiting upgrades. All those people make up the “us” that is me. A me that I’m not giving up on anytime soon.
The love song can be about you. You can choose to not give up on loving yourself and striving for your own true happiness. You can choose to see how beautiful you really are and celebrate that. Whether you’re single or in a happy partnership, you can fearlessly and relentlessly pursue the wonderful human you are.
So I’ll leave you with this. Lyrics from a go-to song I like to sing. “A Sorta Love Song” is a piece I’ve been performing for years that started as a song about someone else and became one about myself and my journey. It ends like this...
“So, you’re a mess, I guess that’s pretty clear.
But it feels like home whenever you are near.
So call me crazy, but what else can I do?
I’m in love with, self-conflicted, rarely dressed up, sports addicted, sorta messed up…
You are flawed, but you are also perfectly you and perfectly loved. Don’t be afraid to let yourself know just how truly special you really are.