I’ll never forget the look in those big blue eyes when they saw the cuts on my leg.
It was a cloudy Sunday afternoon and I was sitting in a stunning mountain meadow with a very, very good friend. It was just days after I had opened up to this friend about my struggles with self injury. And like any good friend would, he had asked me to stop. He even went so far as to say he’d be pissed if I did it again.
I knew his request was genuine. I knew he really cared. I knew he meant it. But that hadn’t stopped me.
And now those blue eyes were staring at me in blank bewilderment. I could see how disappointed he was. How concerned he was. How much he really wanted me to stop.
So we made a pinky promise—I wouldn’t cut myself for a week, and he wouldn’t drink or gamble for a week. A small, seemingly insignificant window of time, but as with any goal you want to accomplish, you have to start small.
I set out with high hopes. “You can do this,” I told myself. “This is the start of a better, healthier future!”
But then life happened.
Challenges arose. Unforeseen difficulties presented themselves. It rained. I forgot my lunch. Apartment hunting sucked the life right out of me. My computer wouldn’t turn on. The gym was way too crowded. I spent more on groceries than I planned. A stomach bug made everything taste awful. I couldn’t sleep. I was behind on my blog. I just wanted to Netflix.
It all seemed like too much. And when it all seems like too much, I start looking for sharp objects.
If you’re thinking I broke my promise, I am pleased to announce that I did not. You see, I wanted nothing more than to keep my promise to my friend. After all, breaking a pinky promise is like slapping someone right across the face. And no one wants to be slapped across the face, am I right?
So that week and in the weeks since, I’ve been channeling all my energy (and anxiety) into finding a solution to my desire to cut. And after a few tears and a few close calls, I’ve found that music really helps calm me down. Every now and then, a song comes on the radio or pops up on my Spotify and its message keeps me going for just a few more minutes. I also asked a really good friend of mine who has battled depression (and who just so happens to have fantastic taste in music) to give me a few songs ideas.
I started putting these songs into a playlist, and after a few days I amassed several hours of music about hope, perseverance, and triumph. So today, I want to share that playlist with all you lovely people.
In the following playlist you’ll find no less than 46 songs that I hope will help you see the light in the world when everything seems darkest. I hope they remind you of happier times. I hope they motivate you to get up and try again and again and again until you find the happiness you’re so desperately looking for. And above all, I hope they remind you that your story isn’t over yet.
1. Fly by Maddie and Tae
2. Round and Round by Imagine Dragons
Favorite lyric: “All the emptiness inside you is hard enough to fill. Without a sense of purposes we’re setting up to fail. You don’t have to make it right, just hold your head up high.”
3. Little Miss by Sugarland
Favorite lyric: “Little miss, you’ll go far. Little miss, hide your scars. Little miss, who you are is so much more than you like to talk about.”
4. One Day by Kodaline
Favorite lyric: “You’ve felt this way for far too long, waiting for a change to come. You know you’re not the only one. And life passes you by, don’t be wasting your time on your own.”
5. Satellite Call by Sara Bareilles
Favorite lyric: “You may find yourself in the dead of night lost somewhere up in the great big, beautiful sky. You were all just perfect little satellites spinning round and round this broken earthly life.”
6. Fly by Nicki Minaj & Rihanna
Favorite lyric: “But I will remain where the top begins, ’cause I am not a word, I am not a line, I am not a girl who can ever be defined.
7. A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans
8. Laughter Lines by Bastille
Favorite lyric: “I’ll see you in the future when we’re older and we are full of stories to be told. Cross my heart and hope to die I’ll see you with your laughter lines.”
9. Silver Linings by Kacey Musgraves
Favorite lyric: “If you wanna fill your bottle up with lightning, you’re gonna have to stand in the rain.”
10. Dare You by Hardwell
Favorite lyric: “I dare you to try. I dare you to fall, and lay on the ground. I dare you to feel. I dare you to be here now.”
11. Faith When I Fall by Kip Moore
Favorite lyric: “I know the rain is coming and it’s sure gonna pour, I know there ain’t no running from this kind of storm. It’s gonna get harder and harder, they keep on pushing through. I’m gonna wanna quit, so I’ll be counting on you.”
12. Masterpiece by Jessie J
Favorite lyric: “I still fall on my face sometimes and I can’t color inside the lines, ’cause I’m perfectly incomplete. I’m still working on my masterpiece.”
13. The Show Goes On by Lupe Fiasco
Favorite lyric: “Let ’em know you struggling, surviving, that you gon’ persevere. Yeah, ain’t nobody leaving, nobody going home. Even if they turns the lights out, the show is going on.”
14. Even If It Breaks Your Heart by Eli Young Band
15. Old Pine by Ben Howard
Favorite lyric: “We stood, steady as the stars in the woods, so happy-hearted and the warmth rang true inside these bones.”
16. Born This Way by Lady Gaga
Favorite lyric: “‘There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are,’ she said ’cause He made you perfect, babe. So hold your head up, girl, and you’ll go far.”
17. Shine On Me by SomeKindaWonderful
Favorite lyric: “When the fight is fought, and I hang my head weary because I’ve had enough, you pick me up to higher ground. I’m so lucky that you stuck around.”
18. Settlin’ by Sugarland
Favorite lyric: “I’ve had enough so so for the rest of my life. Tired of shooting too low, so raise the bar high. Just enough ain’t enough this time, I ain’t settling for anything less than everything.”
19. Ride by Twenty One Pilots
Favorite lyric: “Oh, I’m falling, so I’m taking my time on my ride.”
20. Where It All Begins—Hunter Hayes
21. Shake It Out by Florence+The Machine
Favorite lyric: “And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.”
22. Compass by Lady Antebellum
Favorite lyric: “So let your heart, sweetheart, be your compass when you’re lost and you should follow it wherever it may go. When it’s all said and done, you can walk instead of run ’cause no matter what you’ll never be alone.”
23. Who Says by Selena Gomez
Favorite lyric: “I’m no beauty queen, I’m just beautiful me.”
24. Hold Your Head Up by Macklemore
Favorite lyric: “A friend one told me, we have many paths in this journey. They act in different directions, so when you question don’t be worried. It’s not a wrong one—beauty can be found in all of them.”
25. Skeleton Boy by Friendly Fires
Favorite lyric: “Your love it out but even despite it all, give me your hand, let’s face this night and see it through.”
26. Country Strong by Gwyneth Paltrow
Favorite lyric: “I have weathered colder winter, longer summers without a drop of rain. Push me in a corner, and I’ll come out fighting. I may lose but I always keep my faith.”
27. Vienna by Billy Joel
28. Comeback Story—Kings of Leon
Favorite lyric: “You’ll rue the day when you understand I did my best to be an honest man. Race isn’t over till the finish line, it’s a comeback story of a lifetime.”
29. The Impossible—Joe Nichols
Favorite lyric: “There’s no such thing as hopeless, if you believe.”
30. On My Own by Miley Cyrus
Favorite lyric: “We have just begun, so much to do, so young. Don’t be afraid of alone, you’ll get it done on your own.”
31. Float On by Modest Mouse
Favorite lyric: “Bad news comes don’t you worry even when it lands, good news will work its way to all them plans. We both fired on exactly the same day, well we’ll float on. good news in on the way.”
32. Now is the Start by A Fine Frenzy
Favorite lyric: “Kiss with a mouth of shooting stars, of lost and broken hearts. Unafraid, you can name your scars with a touch of a new heart.”
33. Stronger by Britney Spears
Favorite lyric: “I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be, baby. I use to go with the flow, didn’t really care about me. You might think that I can’t take it, but you’re wrong. ‘Cause now I’m stronger than yesterday.”
34. Photograph by Ed Sheeran
35. Letting Go by Saint Raymond
Favorite lyric: “There’s pain in the falling. The landing hits you without warning, at least you’re at the start. There’s fate in the climbing. Sometimes the voices will be blinding, but they’ll never have your heart.”
36. The Heart of Dixie by Danielle Bradbery
Favorite lyric: “It’s a funny thing when your world falls down—it’s got a way of showing you what you’re all about. Now Dixie’s got her wheels pointed south, and she ain’t never looking back. Nobody knew she was brave like that.”
37. Big Man by Boy & Bear
Favorite lyric: “See, I fell in this position, I will still teach my kids pride. Because failure’s a part of it all, and if failure don’t hurt then failure don’t work at all.”
38. Marchin’ On by OneRepublic
Favorite lyric: “We’ll have the days we break, and we’ll have the scars to prove it. We’ll have the bands that we save, but we’ll have the heart not to lose it.”
PHOTO 39. Today Is Your Day by Shania Twain “Life’s gonna kick you around, then kick you again when you’re down. But today is your day, and nothing can stand in your way.”
40. You Found Me by The Fray
Favorite lyric: “Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me lyin’ on the floor. Where were you? Where were you?”
41. These Times by Safetysuit
“And I know there’s someone out there somewhere who has it much worse than I do, but I have a dream inside, a perfect light I’d give anything just to work.”
34. The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes
Favorite lyric: “Every time you fall it’s only making your chin strong.”
43. Be Still My Soul by David Archuleta
Favorite lyric: “Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord. When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.”
44. Yellow by Coldplay
Favorite lyric: “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you, and all the things that you do.”
PHOTO 45. Stand by Rascal Flatts “Every time you get up and get back in the race, one more small piece of you starts to fall into place.”
46. Count On Me by Mat Kearney
Favorite lyric: “When your number’s called, back’s against the wall, I’ll pick you up when you fall, be there when you call.”