Social Anxiety: The Spotify Challenge

I remember in junior high a friend of mine was in the car with me as we listened to a CD I was really excited about; I probably got it as a gift, as I have the tendency to listen to the same thing over and over if I’ve just discovered it. We reached a track I loved, and I turned to my friend and said “This one’s my favorite!” She gave the first few seconds a listen and then replied “You really like this type of music, don’t you?” with a judgmental, mocking tone. That’s the first memory I have of feeling ashamed about my taste in music.

And then came school dances, when I was the only one who wasn’t singing along to most songs blaring over the loudspeakers. College parties were worse. And post-college. And…right now.

In program today we were discussing how to establish relationships with people we encounter regularly, like folks in program or work or some such thing. Someone asked how we get the conversation going, which is how we got on the topic of music. I had a bit of a revelation sitting there while our therapist discussed how music can be an incredibly vulnerable thing.

I had made a Spotify playlist for the new year, and I realized 2/3 of the songs in the playlist I had chosen because I thought that’s what I should be listening to, but not actually what I wanted to be listening to. In fact, when those songs came on and I was alone in the car, I would skip them. And skipping 2/3 of a playlist leaves you with very little. But on the off chance that I would be driving someone around in my car, I wanted to make sure my music was good enough; I didn’t want to be judged or mocked or told I wasn’t cool because of the music that I listen to.

When I admitted this revelation to the group I felt shame, but also a bit of relief. I had buried this inside of me for so long, it was nice to share it in such safe environment. Not only that, but to get validation from others that I’m not alone in that, because music is a very vulnerable thing. One of my friends mentioned, “It’s like having someone read your diary.”

This revelation got me thinking about how often I am in my car and how I listen to music every time I’m driving anywhere- even if it’s two minutes away. Why should I let my social anxiety get in the way of something I enjoy so much?

That said, I decided to make myself a challenge in group today to create a new Spotify playlist that is 100% for me, and not for anyone else. Another friend of mine chimed in and mentioned that I should blog about the experience. So, here I am.

Let me tell you, this mental filter I’ve got with music runs deep. I had to think very mindfully about the music I was adding. And, of course, my perfectionism kicked in and fed me all kinds of lies about how the playlist looked, and how long or short it was, and certain artists I was including. I still think the playlist is far from perfect, but I realize that it’s not something that’s permanent. I can constantly be switching things around if I want to, and I’m allowed to be bored with certain songs. Just because I find it boring, doesn’t mean I’m forced to keep listening to it.

As promised to my accountability buddy (you know who you are), below is my playlist. Love it or hate it, I don’t care. This is mine.


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