Friday, April 08, 2011

My Identity Through Song

For my music class, I had to write an essay about a song that defines my life. The following essay is what resulted.

When I found out the topic for this essay, I had no trouble thinking of a song to fit my life. Throughout my years, there have been many songs that have been many things to me, but there has only been one that quintessentially sums up my life and that is “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson. This song was a single from her 2004 album of the same name. About the time this song came out, I was in high school making some big decisions in my life and “Breakaway” became my favorite because it so perfectly described my life; where I'd come from and where I was going.

I grew up on my family's farm in rural Ohio. My family was large and ever present and I never lacked for love or attention, but there was a part of me that was searching for something else. Clarkson's lyrics follow the same pattern. The first verse of the song talks about growing up in a small town and wondering what it would be like to get out and see the world. “Dreamin' of what could be and if I'd end up happy, I would pray,” Even as a kid I never wanted to follow the paths that everyone else did. I always wanted to get out and do something different with my life.

The second half of the first verse also describes my life. I never quite felt like I completely fit in during my high school years. While many students focused on clothes, parties and a social life, I preferred reading. I guess you could say I was rather nerdy which wasn't the cool thing to be in high school. I had a small group of friends which helped, but there were times when I felt completely isolated from my peers. Much like the song, there were times that I tried to “reach out, but when I tried to speak out, felt like no one could hear me.” So I accepted the fact that I was the way I was and did my best to get through high school.

An opportunity for change presented itself to me during my senior year of high school. It was what I had been waiting for, a chance to, “spread my wings and learn how to fly,” I applied for and was accepted into Rotary Youth Exchange. After high school graduation, I would be taking a year to go to Russia as an exchange student. Not only that, but I was going to be living in Siberia which seemed like even more of an adventure. I was extremely excited about this opportunity. It would allow me to get out of my small town and see the world. Maybe I wouldn't be lying on beaches like Clarkson in her second verse, (Siberian winters are extremely cold after all), but I was putting myself out there and trying to risk it all to do something different with my life just like the song's chorus “make a wish, take a chance, make a change and breakaway.”

“I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly, though it's not easy to tell you goodbye,” Clarkson sings in the final repetition of the chorus. It wasn't easy to tell my family and friends goodbye, but going to Russia was one of the best decisions I've ever made. That year long journey taught me a lot about who I was and what I was capable of. It also strengthened my relationship with God and made me realize just how much I need him in my life.

It has been almost a full three years since I've been back in the States. I'm getting ready to graduate and though I'm going to be heading back to Russia to do mission work for a year, I no longer put “Breakaway” on repeat and listen to it over and over. That stage of my life has passed. Now it doesn't matter whether I fit in or not. What matters is that I have gained confidence in the knowledge of who I am and what I can do.

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