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Sad Girl Music and Me | Sophie Hoss

Those who know me best are aware of my undying devotion to idols of feminine musical melancholy: Mitski, Lana del Rey, Lorde, Florence + the Machine, and all three members of boygenius, to name a few. When I tell people what I’m listening to, they usually ask if I’m doing okay. And surprisingly, I am.


The thing about sad music is that it pinches me in places I didn’t know were sensitive to touch. I move through the world stoically and practically. I intellectualize and compartmentalize, and although my emotional self is very tender, I’ve learned to numb it so I can weather the storms around me without being pulled under. I sometimes feel callous for letting myself detach, but it’s what I need to do in order to function. I very rarely cry. When I’m muddled or in a burnt-out fog, I turn up the volume on my earbuds and burrow into my private space nestled within the carefully curated tracks of my Spotify playlists. The music cuts through the haze and touches that tender part of me that’s usually too raw and soft to access without injury. The music feeds it, nurtures it, wakes it up. It reminds me that the capacity for pain is also the capacity for love, and that the vulnerable pieces myself still have value. It’s a kind of gently masochistic self-care that is an essential part of my emotional regulation, and, strangely, it’s a practice I think of as a guilty pleasure.

 

When I was younger, emotions were polarized ends of a spectrum. When I was sad, I was horrifically depressed; when I was happy, I was elated. In recent years, things have fortunately balanced out quite a bit. When I listen to sad music now, I make myself comfortable with the in-betweens and recognize that pure joy is not the only valuable emotion. Society tries to tell us that if you’re not skipping around with pockets full of sunshine, you’re doing something wrong. But what I seek now is not happiness—it’s peace. And, for whatever reason, my sad girl music gives it to me.

 

Sophie Hoss is a New York writer who loves the ocean and falls asleep by 9 pm every night. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in BOMB, The LA Review, Storm Cellar, The Southampton Review, and elsewhere. You can read more of her work at sophiehosswriting.com.

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