Here at Georgia Institute of Technology we are approaching what we call “Dead Week.” This is the week before finals that involves a large amount of studying and finishing of semester long projects. It is stressful and a great playlist of songs is necessary to get through this mentally difficult time. Music is vital to my and many other’s work ethics. It can be a motivating force or simply an empathetic voice. The way I study is by playing songs that perfectly reflect my mindset. This is not as pure and motivating as it sounds though. I don’t have the same mood throughout my studying process. My mood is actually more like a carnival ride. Therefore, my playlist for this time is quite interesting.
When I begin studying I am motivated. I sit at my desk with a Grande Frappuccino, in comfortable clothes with all my materials laid out. Because I already look like a stereotypical upper middle-class white teenage girl with my Frappuccino, I flip on the music video for Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” I’m ready to go. As Ms. Swift says the haters are going to hate, hate, hate but I’m going to keep studying. I make a great plan to complete all my work, but then I step back and actually see how much work I have to do. I have a lot of work ahead of me and I am on the edge of a panic attack. I am already in the T-Swift section of my I-pod so I put on “I Knew You Were Trouble,” because I am in a lot of trouble. This is too much work, how am I going to do all of this? Why can’t I just quite college and become Taylor Swift’s trophy husband? (Probably because I would have to be four inches taller and 50 pounds lighter with the body of Arnold Schwarzeneggar fifteen years ago, and a French accent). Maybe I can have a panic attack like Dave Chappelle and move to Africa? The song ends and I still haven’t begun my actually work.
Now I need motivation to power through the start of this Mount Everest of work. “’Till I Collapse” by Eminem & Nate Dogg begins blasting on my speakers. I crack open my book or turn on my computer. I begin vigorously studying. Yes, vigorously studying. I smash the keys on my computer, I highlight as fast as possible. My desk begins to shake and my computer starts to quake, my highlighter rips through the pages of my book. I quickly realize I need a less intense song when my keyboard begins to fall apart and my textbook is on fire from the friction of my highlighter. I put on “Alchemist” by Savant. For those who don’t listen to Savant, his music is similar to electronic video game music that is literally designed to make you concentrate. This makes me buckle down and get an immense amount of work done. My fingers fly over the keyboard like a prepubescent teen playing his favorite video game. I am getting so much work done. I black out. When I black in I have finished seventy five percent of my work, five Monster Energy Drinks, two coffees and the entire discography of Savant.
Now it’s late at night and not all my studying is done yet. All the Caffeine has worn off and I am once again panicking about my work. My panic quickly deteriorates into a deep, dark depression. I grope the dark depths of my I-Pod to find “Creep” by Radiohead, a song that was too depressing, and suicidal to play on the radio in the nineties. I stare at my work and question my existence. “What the hell am I doing here, I don’t belong here” echoes through my ears and into my psyche. My attempts at studying are futile. Life is futile. Existence is useless. I immediately change the song before I hang myself with my computer’s power chord. If I can’t understand the powers against me I must resist them. Therefore, I turn on “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine. I will fight the system by becoming the system. The loud, violent, anti-establishment music motivates me to finish. The last grueling hours are filled with me listening to other Rage songs like “Testify,” “Calm Like A Bomb,” and “Killing In The Name.” Studying becomes a fight between me and my work. I randomly curse out my textbooks and punch my keyboard, but my work gets done.
Finally, at the end of my all day and night studying session I look up to the sky and say “Tetelestai” in Greek, or “it is finished” in English (the last words of Jesus on the Cross). My dynamic playlist has driven me through this difficult study battle. Music is the weapon I use to motivate me, yet it is the sword I fall on in harder times. In the end I find my favorite song “Santeria” by Sublime. The calming, heroin fueled voice of Brad Nowell sooths my spirit. It prepares me to calmly begin another day of studying or apply what I’ve learned. This song is the lullaby that caresses my mind into a well-deserved three hours of sleep.