Senior year. As every one of your family members tell you, as well as movies and TV shows, senior year is supposedly the best year of your life: essentially no classes, senior skip day, senior prom, graduation, senior week, then finally, college. I couldn’t wait. That’s the dream, right? I had a solid group of close friends, great classes – nothing could go wrong. Well, until I realized the summer before that all of my friends were fake and a pandemic occurred three-quarters of the way through the year. Though music has always been there for me, I relied on it more so than ever this year. It all began the summer of 2019…
This was shaping up to be one of the best summers of my life. I was going to Atlantic City with my family and friends for the 25th anniversary Warped Tour and seeing blink-182 less than a week after that on their “Enema of the State” 20th anniversary tour, and I could not wait. Though I was sad to see Warped Tour finally go, it was also a chance to see bands that I’ve loved for so long for the first time. My (now ex-) best friend came with us, as she did with every concert. She acted pretty rude towards me the whole time, which I brushed off as her typical behavior, since it was (a major red flag that I was just too naive to pick up on). Despite her unpleasantness, I still had an incredible time: John Floreani of Trophy Eyes waved at me before I even knew who he was, I saw Frank Iero in the flesh (which I thought would be the closest I’d ever get to seeing My Chemical Romance live – wrong!), and I saw blink-182 for the first time. It was the best possible way to send off Warped Tour.
Literally four days later, I saw blink-182 again – this time with Neck Deep opening and Lil Wayne co-headlining, which was quite the experience. And, to the surprise of no one, I took the same friend, and, yet again, she was incredibly rude. At my insistence of lining up ridiculously early (so early, in fact, that we beat the security guards there), we were at the barricade of the general admission section. Four days prior, there were so many people on the beach to see blink-182 that we could barely see the stage, so it was thrilling to actually be able to see them on stage. It was certainly more interesting than seeing them in Atlantic City: I was the only Neck Deep fan around us, there were a couple of frat bros behind us who were definitely high and going off about how the people around them weren’t appreciating Lil Wayne and how he’s “not just a rapper,” and a security guy with a very small and greasy man bun physically went into the crowd behind us to stop the small circle pit that had opened up behind us, which subsequently made room for a guy who had to have been on meth to wedge his way between us and tried to get us to push down the barricade.
After these concerts were over, I found myself listening to Trophy Eyes, mostly because I really liked their set at Warped Tour, partly because I felt guilty that the singer waved to me and I only knew one song by them. I had just been listening to their most recent album, “The American Dream,” but on this particular day, I decided to listen to their album “Chemical Miracle” for the first time. The day before, I had one of those sleepless nights where my brain just chose to think about the worst case scenario for literally everything – one of those thoughts was “I consider my friends to be my best friends and would do anything for them because I love them, but I don’t think a single one feels the same way about me.” Normally, I just brush these thoughts away, but that one stuck with me. So, it makes sense that when I listened to “Chemical Miracle” and got to “Daydreamer,” I started crying because it was exactly what I was feeling. The timing of it all was a little freaky, if I’m being honest.
I entered senior year excited, yet wary of my friends. Right off the bat, the second week of school proved my sleepless thoughts correct. Normally, when you end up wearing the same shirt as your best friend, you joke about it – in this case, I was yelled at for being “rude.” Needless to say, she did not go to any more concerts with me. When I saw Neck Deep in Pittsburgh shortly after this, it was the most fun I’ve ever had at a concert – not just because the band and the crowd were amazing, but also because I was with a friend who didn’t hate me. It was during this show that I heard their song “Gold Steps” in a different light. It’s honestly become a kind of mantra for me this year because it has really felt like life’s been out to get me.
It was after the first choir concert of the year in October when my entire friend group left without talking to me first and went to get dinner without me that I realized I was no longer welcome in that group. I knew it was coming, but I was still heartbroken. The worst part was that I had most of my classes with them, so I couldn’t get away, but they still made it clear that they didn’t want me there. They would always just do little things that would get under my skin, to the point where I wished they would just outright say they hated me. Me being me, I coped the best way I could: I blasted music and I went to concerts. Luckily, I had wristbands for a Waterparks acoustic show and signing less than a week after this point – nothing has the ability to cheer me up more than a hug from Awsten Knight, and this was the perfect timing for one. Just the few hours I spent in Baltimore and that record store were the happiest hours I’d had in a while. My happiness from that acted as a shield from everything else that was happening, in a way.
I continued to be sad about the whole situation for a while. Eventually, it got to a point where I told myself I could either continue moping around, or I could begin moving past it and get closer to the friends I did have. I decided it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself and move on. The music I listen to typically reflects my mood and vice versa – you can see why Neck Deep’s “Life’s Not Out to Get You” became one of my most listened to albums in 2019.
As the year continued, their actions became less discreet. This also fell near the time I saw Sharptooth for the first time. After that show, the anger that I had towards the situation deep inside was awakened. I was done being passive in my misery. I was going to kill them with kindness because I knew that the only reason that they were doing this to me was because they were jealous, and I was above stooping to their level and giving them the reaction they wanted. I carried this attitude with me for the rest of the year, soundtracked mainly by Sharptooth and Doll Skin. If they hated me, it was their loss. I recognized my worth and recognized I didn’t deserve them dragging me down.
Much unlike to the rest of the world, coronavirus was a savior to me. It was exhausting to act kind towards them constantly. I couldn’t stop being around them because they would treat that as a victory. I was close to nearing my tipping point when we got the call that school was closed for two weeks, then for the rest of the year. A part of me felt guilty. Everyone was mourning the loss of the end of senior year, including prom and graduation, and I was rejoicing. With the closure, I had the ability to never see them ever again. That felt like a victory on my behalf. Though I was sad about those cancellations, too, I was in a different position than most of the senior class – I had no group of friends like they all did. What fun is prom if you don’t have a group of friends to take photos with, or a table of friends to sit with? Sure, I made other, better friends, but they all had their own groups that I didn’t fit into. It’s a shame that my senior year had to end this way, but with the way it was going, it was the ideal ending for me. I’m doing much better isolated at home than I would have been doing in school.
While writing this, I listened to “Daydreamer” for the first time in a while. It used to make me cry every time I heard it. This time, I didn’t. It’s no longer a song that I listen to when I’m sad about how much my old friends sucked. It’s a testament to my strength and my ability to overcome such a bad situation. I made new, better friends who do care about me. And I will never, ever let anyone step all over me the way that they did ever again. In the words of “Chlorine,” the Trophy Eyes song that started all of this: “I’m still breathing.”