I have always been an extremist. In my opinions, beliefs, and actions, I have long thought that it’s all or nothing. I can’t semi-like brussels sprouts. I either like to eat them or I don’t. So, I overcompensate for the lack of other green things on my plate with heaps of broccoli. I like broccoli. But I dislike every other vegetable—there is no in between.
Lately, however, I feel I’m losing my extremity. And I can’t tell if this is holding me back or if it’s helping to push me out of my comfort zone.
One thing I always used to avoid is country music. If Morgan Wallen came on the radio, I would instantly find another station. If every other station was playing commercials, I would turn the radio off altogether, telling myself to enjoy the silence over my country nemesis. And if a country song came on one of my friends’ aux, I made sure to voice my disdain for the genre. But in the last year, my taste has changed. Twenty-one of my 1,512 liked songs on Spotify are classified as country. Now, I know this rough 1 percent isn’t that dramatic, but when you throw in my passionate, self-proclaimed hatred for country music and my tendency to stick to extremes, I get a little scared seeing “Thinkin’ Bout Me” show up in my recommended songs.
So, what happened to me? It feels like I sold my soul. I have spent 20-plus years—20 PLUS—building a musical identity around a belief that all of a sudden seems irrelevant. And, to make matters worse, I have now curated a false identity by saying the phrase, “I hate country.” I feel I am not holding true to myself, and it aches to know that I am not embracing that extremist side I have grown so fond of.
So now, when a country song comes on, I often find myself beginning to utter the line, “I hate cou–” before stopping and replacing it with the sentence, “I have started to appreciate country.” And this is a true statement. I have started to appreciate country. The raspy voices. The jiggy tunes. The folk lyrics. I am learning to value the sounds. At the same time, this statement doesn’t actually deviate from my persona. “Starting to appreciate” is not only a way of saying, “I’m changing,” but it also implies that I am open to the change. In being open to my growing appreciation of country music, am I not fully embracing myself? Am I not acting extreme in a new sense? Extreme as in, I am going “all in” on embracing my openness. Perhaps this realization is just me trying to justify the change, but I still think I am staying true to the extreme views I have always carried.
I think it is a healthy habit to introduce oneself to new things. Allowing ourselves to be open to new ideas gives us new experiences to enjoy. And, apparently, the more likely one is to accept change, the more likely one is to have a greater understanding of different perspectives. The more we push ourselves out of our comfort zones, the more comfortable we become with ourselves.
Just because we college students have 20-plus years of experience living with ourselves does not mean that we know everything about ourselves. Oftentimes, I find myself thinking I need to have everything figured out at this very moment, but in reality, that’s for the rest of my life. Right now, I need to figure out what I want to figure out. Country music isn’t bad, and in five years I might even completely enjoy country music. In believing this, I am still staying authentic to myself—this time I am just putting all my cards in the hands of change.
So, if you take my advice, embrace a willingness to change and maybe even make time for a new adventure or two this year.