We students — infesting the Diag, buying out the frozen meal aisles of all local convenience stores and permanently wrecking lawns with above-ground-darty cesspools — have returned to Ann Arbor. For some, this may be a triumphant return, one spent reuniting with friends and eagerly jumping into new fields of academia. For others, the initial resurgence of campus life may be a bit trickier. Me, I find myself somewhere in the middle. But for everyone, the beginning of classes is a wake-up call.

Once the haze of welcome week and the first football Saturday wears off and actual assignments begin being posted on CTools (or, what is it called, Canvas?), shit starts to get real. Honestly, my sense of security is starting to show some cracks. At any moment I feel as though an existential crisis brought on by factors such as, but not limited to: a non-air conditioned living space, weird encounters with past classmates, flashbacks of embarrassing weekend mistakes or already being unbelievably overwhelmed by class work.

But I will not fret. When I find myself facing an impending crisis, I turn to the omnipresent constant in my life — music. There is nothing that a song cannot fix (or at least temporarily distract you from). Music is an anchor.

So if, like me, your collegiate legs are not yet fully acclimated to the topography of AA, here is a playlist of songs that always take me back to a simpler, more solid mindset and will, hopefully, get us back on our feet.

1. “Everything Will Be Alright” by The Killers

Pretty much every track on Hot Fuss is a magnificent nugget of musicality, but “Everything Will Be Alright” is especially applicable when dealing with periods of uncertainty. There has never been a time that singer Brandon Flower’s foggy synth mantra of hope is unable to sooth my tumultuous mind. 

2. “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand

Let’s pick up the pace and, with a quick transition into some early 2000’s Brit-rock, confidence levels will undoubtedly begin to rise. This track makes me envision myself in a gritty music video with leather-jacket-clad men backing me up as I take out any and all obstacles in my way — tough assignments, unfortunate social conundrums, questionable dining hall food, etc. 

3. “Its Gonna Be Me” by NSYNC

Need I even explain this one? I don’t think so, moving on.

4. “Hand In My Pocket” by Alanis Morisette

The ever-prophetic Alanis manages to touch on pretty much every possible scenario college students, like myself, may find themselves in. Broke? Check. High? Maybe. Tired? Of course. But she counters each of these qualms with a burst of positivity, balancing out her sadness with laughter and her lack of direction with a hopeful outlook.

5. “What’s My Age Again” by blink-182

Tom DeLonge is 39 years old now. However, I’m pretty sure the population still thinks of him as the epitome of a guy in his mid-twenties taking on life: entirely unsure of what he is actually doing and doing so in the most amusing way possible. I like to believe that no one really knows what’s going on. So, if you haven’t yet grasped the concept of adulthood, you are not alone. Fake it ‘til you make it, right?

6. “My Generation” by The Who

I think that it is physiologically impossible to feel meek while listening to The Who.  This song especially reminds me not to shy away from what ties me to my peers — an intrinsic millennial nature. I have to own my youth, own my insecurity and own the incredible opportunity of education I have here at the University.

7. “Love Your Friends, Die Laughing” by Man Overboard

The title says it all. School is important, grades are important and all that jazz, but so is life. Spend a night in with friends, do something weird and stupid, bond with others over the dream-like experience that is being a college student.   

8. “Get Got” by Death Grips

Because life is no fun when I’m fully grounded anyway. Embracing my state of confusion is essential; letting myself be as chaotic and artful as the music of Death Grips.

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