As I was walking past O’Neill late the other night while listening to a playlist of Taylor Swift ballads, the colored Christmas tree lights stopped me mid-stride. They gleamed, tiny bits of red, yellow, blue, and green blurred together against the rainy night’s sky.
Campus was quiet. And although it was cold and damp, I couldn’t stop starring at the lights, as they reflected brightly in the shallow puddles on the pavement.
Standing there, with my ballet flats soaked, I was lulled into a state of emotional contemplation. So many thoughts. So many feelings. About my week, my semester, my life. About my family, my friends, my self. It was a lot to take in.
Whether my introspection had to do with the sheer beauty of the scene or the brooding lyrics of “All Too Well,” I couldn’t say.
I tend to get more meditative in the winter. It’s a good time to step back and review things, to look at where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go. To look at who you were, who you are, and who you want to be. Those sorts of things.
I’ve been so busy the past few years that I’ve eased into a routine, comfortably following my own preset plan. It’s been a long while since I’ve shed much light on anything in my life. And, honestly, it’s been just as long since I’ve noticed something as simple and stunning as a lit-up tree.
That still setting and those sentimental Swift songs prompted some much-needed soul searching. It got to the point where all I did all week, while working on my final papers in the Chocolate Bar, was listen to her albums on repeat. That’s not something I usually do. I don’t hate Swift, but I don’t love her either. And I definitely didn’t think I cared enough about her to spend so long engaged with her music.
In retrospect, though, my sudden Swift fixation makes sense to me-because her lyrics helped me sort through my thoughts. They were honest and relatable. They where what I needed when I needed them. I’m not trying to make a case for or against her, and I’m definitely not going into what the media says about her love life. But somehow, I found depth and meaning in her simple words through experience. Many of the things that mattered to her, seemed to matter to me, too.
I thought about how figuring out where you belong can be a process of trial and error: “I’ll be strong / I’ll be wrong, But life goes on / I’m just a girl / Trying to find a place in this world.”
I thought about how there’s always the opportunity to reinvent who you are, to explore new possibilities: “Lives change like weather / I hope you remember / Today is never too late to be brand new.”
I thought about how easy-and terrifying-it can be to lose yourself in your day-to-day life: “Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by it / I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it.”
I thought about relationships and how fickle we can be, even when it comes to people who are important to us: “People are people / And sometimes we change our minds.”
I thought about love and wondered whether it was magic or just some kind of mechanics: “All we are is skin and bone / Trained to get along.”
I thought about how although it can be scary, it’s okay to care about someone and let them in: “And all my walls stood tall painted blue / And I’ll take them down / Take them down / And open up the door for you.”
I thought about how when someone really loves you, they love every part of you: “You’re beautiful / Every little piece love / And don’t you know / You’re really gonna be someone / Ask anyone.”
I considered these ideas, and a great many others, over the past several days-a string of simple, little, shining things, no different than those Christmas tree lights. And while I’ll think about them from time to time, very rarely do I appreciate them the way I should-except when I take these moments to remember, to go back and reflect, much like I did this December.