The title is probably most unexpected, by myself, primarily. I think my last post reveals where my head was at, but not the whole story. I don’t think it’s necessary to get into that at the moment to share my moment of revelation or epiphany. I love that in my pseudo-religiousness, I keep religious language of revelation and epiphany, and I laugh at their presence, but I don’t call their names to make Lazarus rise. In any case, let’s discuss some things, like validation and confidence in the face of silence via Bieber’s Love Yourself.
Now, although the song is mellow, rather slow, and something that seems it could be whispered to a lover, the words are rather contradictory. Indeed, the song is about a love interest who was more interested in using the narrator for self gain than to build a relationship of mutual growth, trust, and love. Bieber’s song reconciles the pain that comes with these experiences, that usually transpires into anger, into a calm discussion that is not shameful to the subject. It makes note of what one person did to another.
The narrator says to his subject, “if you like the way you look that much, you should go a love yourself.” Now, imagine if love was swapped with “fuck” or “screw”. The tone changes drastically. Of course, one could read the song like that, but I think that stops the potential for meaning and would too strongly disrupt the melody. The softness of the song changes the message from one of hate to one of (detached) concern. Let me explain that. The narrator already gives examples of the poor behaviour of the subject. The narrator could easily tell the subject to fuck off or not even write the song about this subject at all. Rather, lyrically, the song cleverly detaches the narrator’s love or sexual interest from the subject, and he tells the subject that they need to learn to love themselves. A difficult lesson to learn. For, according to the lyrics, the subject is not behaving in a way that shows they respect themselves wholeheartedly, and I mean that: whole heart-edly. Melodically, the song is tender, full of hope, and addictive. The song asks you to listen to it over and over again and find closure in the lyrics and peace in the melody.
This indicates an act of empathy, rather than just writing off their behaviour as them being shite. Everyone has something. And, the narrator explains that they are not guiltless, either. The narrator was ignoring the situation and focusing on work. So, there is a complicity in this song. The song seems more of an anthem–if we can call such a smooth, mellow song an anthem–of self-growth and maturity. Don’t get me wrong, it confronts the subject quite directly and potentially exposes them to public pillory, but relationships fall into a battle of egos and wills and this song shows vulnerabilities on both sides and spaces for growth. But sometimes people just don’t fit together, and that’s just how it is.
So, how does this fit into my life? I find the song comforting because it is not dismissive. It makes you, the listener, identify with both narrator and subject–tripling empathy. You feel wronged or used, but you should not bring anger to the table. Furthermore, as you listen, you slip into the role of the subject at the chorus, when the narrator repeats “you should go and love yourself.” Then you return to the role of the narrator throughout the lyric until the chorus. It’s comforting to be told that you should love yourself, that we are all worthy of love and that that love starts from within. It’s like expecting to be pierced with a sword and being given a flower. Indeed, when one feels like all words, motivation, and meaning have slunk away it’s easy to fixate on either trying to find someone to solve those emotions for you or being decidedly stubborn in your isolation. None of us act without flaw, and so we all carry the fears, anxieties, and sins of our own narratives, but being reminded to love yourself is incredibly meaningful and inspiring.
Sometimes, you just need to sit down and put pen to paper and do what you need to do, instead of waiting for someone to validate you with the things you need to hear. You know those little voices that tell you “you can’t do this?” that is the little “fuck yourself” that you need to turn into a “love yourself.” Stop raining on your parade. Or, try one step at a time to use an umbrella and begin to love yourself. Do what you are able to, and learn to grow by taking note and releasing negativity but holding onto the moments or opportunities to grow. Take as much time as you need. The best wines have to take time to age.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.
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