While making a number of playlists on iTunes recently, I noticed that my taste in music is both embarrassing and amazing, depending on whom you ask. I assume most people can relate to this on some level.
My library varies from Tom Waits to Korean Pop, and while I used to be apprehensive about admitting to liking either of these to a large party of people, I’ve loosened up after realizing that my various tastes make up who I am.
While meditating on my initial apprehension to talk music with people I meet, I found that the problem does not lie with others but with myself. It’s easy to operate under the belief that those you become acquainted with will judge you, but once you decide that your opinions are sacred that fear goes away. My goal for this year is to eliminate the guilty pleasure mentality from my way of thinking completely.
Music and film have always been two of the most important things in my life, yet I didn’t realize how defining and sometimes burdensome they can be until I got to college. With so many varying opinions on what makes a person have good taste, it’s easy to doubt yourself in a crowd of knowledgeable people.
Common questions that come up when you meet new people such as, “Who’s your favorite band?” can become make-or-break situations. An answer like Arctic Monkeys may be too trendy, while they may think you’re a 50-year-old person if you say T. Rex. Perhaps playing it safe with David Bowie will surely get you off the hook, but he might be too weird even for today’s standards.
You could always try the “that’s like choosing my favorite child” option, but why bother? That would just be dodging the question.
I once heard Dave Grohl, frontman of Foo Fighters, speak against the term “guilty pleasure” in a speech he gave at South by Southwest. Although I’m not a follower of his band and don’t know much about his career in general, his opinion rang true to me.
While I don’t actively hide what I love from those I casually converse with, I keep certain things to myself depending on what day it is and what kind of mood I’m in. Even saying you like The Beatles has become risky nowadays: too cliché for some and too outdated for others.
Grohl’s opinion had me wondering why it is so easy to assume that people will ridicule us for our interests. Even the most confident people have something they feel embarrassed about loving. Letting ourselves dwell on this can be one of the most stressful things about forming new bonds with people.
Sometimes I meet people with no sense of shame, and even when we have wildly different tastes and opinions it’s always refreshing to see them enjoying what they love. They are doing what I cannot and revel in their favorite things as if no one has a say in the matter. They have also understood that no one, in fact, does have a say in the matter.
I don’t ascribe to many end-all-be-all schools of thought in my life, so if I believe in anything I hold on to it with full force. While music may be a silly thing to cherish to some, it is more than just background noise to others.
One of the many points of music—and anything that you identify with on a personal level, for that matter—is to relate. Whether someone listens to a song and feels themselves within it or finds something they can’t stop dancing to, or both, they should feel at home.