For whatever reason, I really hate the “My Anthem” feature on Tinder. I mean it could be because Blink 182 is so over-represented it almost makes me embarrassed to be a Millennial (and anyone who knows me knows how much I love being a Millennial). But I think it was also because I could not imagine a world where I’d hear a single song that would be so much better than every other song I’ve listened to that I’d refer to it as my personal anthem. Just not my thing.
But I do love the way a song can put into words feelings that you can’t express any other way. I love how songs can perfectly capture the heartbreak after a breakup, the new, exciting feeling of a new relationship, and pretty much any of the other thousand emotions that you cycle through with dating and relationships. I once joked to my Dad, back in High School, that he could just pay for my Taylor Swift concert ticket every year in place of therapy. And I was only half joking. There is something incredibly therapeutic about screaming out the lyrics to songs that seem to be the perfect soundtrack to your dating life.
And sometimes the songs that you connect with aren’t necessarily about dating itself and more about your personal approach to it. This is where I started to soften to the term anthem. Because I finally found a song that perfectly encapsulated how I feel about and approach dating.
As a woman there is a lot of pressure not to be “too much.” I have so many friends who say things like “I’m a lot” or “I’m hard to handle.” While I am all about owning your flaws and being honest about them, these women are not too much and they are not hard to handle. Like objectively not. But as feminism has encouraged us to embrace ourselves and show more of who we are without being ashamed, those little voices in our head are telling us that who we are is a little too much for society to handle. That isn’t something that we can just unlearn – we’ve been hearing it our whole lives.
So rewind to December 2016. I was getting really excited for the Women’s March. I was Googling sign ideas, sending posts back and forth with my friends on Instagram, and counting down the days until my out of town friends would land in DC. I was feeling this intense urge to not only wear my feminist hat when I was having debates and discussions with friends, but to proclaim it to the world. But my boyfriend at the time was really not into it, or into me being into it.
So I started pulling back. I was still researching sign ideas for way too many hours, but I stopped showing him my favorites. I made lists on my phone of all the bars I wanted to take my friends to when they got here instead of talking to him about it. I felt like I was being too much. I felt like his feelings of discomfort were my job to solve, even when I felt a little twinge of guilt for how I was pulling myself back. Now at the end of this story we break up (thank god) and my feminist flag has been flying high ever since. But that feeling of being too much or too intense when you’re really just being your authentic self is something that I think almost every woman can relate to and has felt at least once.
But what does all of this have to do with my newfound anthem? Well as I was crying my eyes out while watching the Bold Type season 1 finale, a song called “Living Out Loud” started playing. And at that moment, mostly healed from my broken heart but still a little fragile from a recent bad date experience, I realized that the men who have hurt me the most are the ones who constantly, subtly nudge me back toward a more quiet, average existence. They are the ones that don’t want me to live out loud or to live my life without regard for what fits into their definition of acceptable (read: desirable) femininity.
Over the next few weeks I realized that finding an anthem was less about the song (I listened to it on repeat so many times that I really can’t listen to it anymore) and more about choosing to discard anyone in my life who doesn’t value authenticity and vulnerability. Because those are the foundations of every good relationship – be it romantic or otherwise. As women keep fighting for an equal place in society we have to remember to live those values in every facet of our lives, and especially in our dating lives.
Keep living loud my loves ❤