An Aggressively Positive Playlist

An Aggressively Positive Playlist

Okay, well, I’m officially sucking at blogging this term. Which would make sense, if I were hard at work revising for the exams I have in like two weeks (!!!!), but to be honest, there hasn’t been nearly enough work happening either. There’s been a lot of procrastination. I started doing Irish dance in my room every night with an eye to getting back into the sport, and today contacted a dance school to see if I can take classes over the summer. That kind of thing. (More on that if it goes anywhere.) But blogging? Blogging has not been on my list of regular procrastination methods, for some reason.

So I thought I’d go for a different sort of post today, and share with you some of the songs I’m finding motivating right now. These are songs that make me feel better when I’m miserable, but they’re not necessarily cheerful — I don’t tend to enjoy happy-clappy songs, because when I’m feeling down they just make me feel worse, as if the singers know something I don’t about life and that’s why they’re so happy. Instead, I lean towards aggressively positive songs. The ones that say, “Yeah, everything’s awful, but I’m taking life with both hands and MAKING it better and YOU CAN’T STOP ME.”

I’m not sure what it says about me as a person, but that description goes for pretty much everything on my ‘Make 2017 Better Than 2016’ playlist, so that’s officially my motivational aesthetic. The full playlist is on Spotify, but I thought I’d give you a taste of it (with YouTube videos for those who don’t have Spotify accounts).


Song: One Foot In Front Of The Other
Artist: Emilie Autumn
Album: Fight Like A Girl

Favourite lyrics:

How do we bear this burden, far too much to carry?
How do we change our prison to a sanctuary?
We’ve been kept from the light, no one ever gave a damn
If I’ve no one to fight, how do I know who I am?

This song’s part of a (partly autobiographical?) concept album about women in an insane asylum, so it doesn’t sound like it should be positive, and I guess in some ways it isn’t. But it’s about reclaiming yourself from trauma or bad memories or weakness, and the fact that it’s a gradual process, rather than a single moment. We don’t get better all in one go — we manage it by putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again.


Song: Get Better
Artist: Frank Turner
Album: Positive Songs for Negative People

Favourite lyrics:

So try and get better and don’t ever accept less
Take a plain black marker and write this on your chest
Draw a line underneath all of this unhappiness
Come on now, let’s fix this mess
We could get better
Because we’re not dead yet

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re right. Apparently I need songs that are about getting better. I think I’m just painfully aware that I haven’t been at my best the last few years, and maybe it wasn’t entirely my fault — mental and physical health problems have been a major barrier — but there’s still more I could do to work on it.


Song: The Show Starts Now
Artist: Cloud Cult
Album: Love

Favourite lyrics:

If you hold your breath for better days, you’ll never learn how to breathe
You’re afraid of the dark, but that’s where you learn to see
You’re no good to the living if you’re too afraid to bleed

These were the lyrics that really got me when I first heard this song. I might have good reasons to think that trying things will cause pain, because historically, that’s been true. But that dosen’t mean it always will be. I’m miles stronger than I was a few years ago — and maybe it’s finally time to start trying things again, instead of letting fear of pain hold me back.


Song: Zero Visibility
Artist: Rise Against
Album: The Black Market

Favourite lyrics:

We are not brave, we are not wise
We stand at the edge of the borderlines
But we stand here all together
We have been damned, we have survived
Who we become you won’t recognize
But became them all together

I originally found this song when looking for music to put on my playlist for Bard, and it’s probably still more true of my characters than of me. It’s the aspect of recovery and self-improvement that I’m still working on: involving other people, and developing really close friendships to go through those things with. I’ve got friends who’ve been with me for part of various journeys (one of my closest friends is a trans guy so we spent a lot of time figuring out gender stuff together, and I have other friends with anxiety and depression, and so on), but I still always feel like I keep people at arms’ length and I’m not that great at forming really close relationships.

Hopefully I’ll get there in the end.


Song: SING
Artist: My Chemical Romance
Album: Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Favourite lyrics:

You’ve got to make a choice
If the music drowns you out
And raise your voice every single time
They try and shut your mouth

Maybe most people don’t associate My Chemical Romance with positivity, but a lot of their songs have that defiant, aggressive reclamation vibe that I apparently like so much. I was a big fan of The Black Parade album when I was, like, twelve, and every time I think I’ve grown out of MCR I’ll hear one of their songs again and the whole lot of feelings just come back again.


There are more songs on my ‘Make 2017 Better Than 2016’ playlist, and there are more songs I like in the same vein that aren’t on that playlist, but here are a few of the things I’ve been listening to on repeat whenever I need motivation. Which is all the time. Because I’m not a hugely motivated person, whether we’re talking work or just life in general.

Anyone got any defiantly positive songs about recovery and self-improvement and being your best self that I might like? Leave them in the comments and I’ll check them out!

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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