Generally speaking, I’m not one of those people who looks back on my childhood with rose-tinted glasses. It was, almost without fail, a miserable experience. I was at most half the size of the rest of the children around me, too smart for my own good by about half, and enough of an insufferable prick that I probably deserved the torture I got from my classmates. Throw the eventuality of puberty and the emergence of my sexual awakening clashing with years of carefully-constructed religious guilt and identity issues, and I really think it’s a wonder I made it out of those times with my sanity. However, if there’s one thing I miss about my youth, it’s how sure and confident I was in everything I believed. It’s part of what made me such a douche when I was younger, but by that same token, ignorance truly is bliss. Becoming an intellectual and becoming an academic is all about facing just how much you truly don’t know and accepting it without giving in to that bullshit need to posture that you know so much more than you really do. As a kid, it’s enough to simply believe something and in that belief, you carry the power of the entire universe.

As you get older though, you’re forced to wrestle with the endless shades of grey that are the real world. You learn just how small your place is in it and the sad truth that certain goals are likely beyond reach. Some of us are able to accept that (I have for the most part), and you eventually accept that the only meaning in life is the one you choose to take away from your short time on this Earth. Still, I do occasionally long for days when I was a little more innocent, and life was a little more simple. The song “Millstone” by Brand New from their albumThe Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me always makes me feel like this especially with lines like

“I used to pray like God was listening.
I used to make my parents proud.
I was the glue that kept my friends together,
Now they don’t talk and we don’t go out.

I used to know the name of every person I’d kissed.
Now I’ve made this bed and I can’t fall asleep in it.”

God. His words just hit you right where they hurt and for everyone who’s had to grow up and accept just how inane their old life was but also how much easier it was to appreciate, Jesse Lacey’s lyrics strike with a razor like precision. Brand New (especially this particular album) are a criminally underrated band if for no other reason than to take such tired universal themes of identity, growing up, sexuality, and love and infusing them with such a raw passion and unfiltered poetry.

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