The first time I truly felt at ease? Current Joys concert. June 2018. The Factory.

Months later, everything has changed. However, one thing remains—the feeling of acceptance that dominates my being when I think back to that night.

The sensation of utter awe engulfs me as I lose the ability to distinguish my own thoughts from others.

When I struggle with anxiety, I take comfort in the rawness of “Nervous.”

When I am troubled by my lack of belonging, Nick reminds me that

“The world is so big now

It’s hard not to feel alone

Without no direction

I don’t know where I’ll go

Don’t worry about tomorrow

We’ll find our way home.”

When I hurt from the disconnection from family and friends, I take refuge in “Departed.”

When I experience the irrational, idiotic moments characteristic to an adolescent’s experimenting years, Nick reminds me that

“I am just a kid

I always make mistakes

Cause there mistakes that I made.”

When I regret a decision or feel overwhelmed with the toils of life, I am reminded by “Home” to take comfort in myself and live in the moment.

My teenage years are tangled with the emotions that Nick expresses through his music.

Maybe that is why his music means so much to me. Maybe that is why June 2018 was the first time I felt at ease. Maybe that is why I fall into a trance midway through “Blondie.” Maybe that is why I feel consumed but unconstrained by his music.

As he takes the stage, a paradoxical feeling of belonging amongst strangers engulfs my thoughts. The insatiable hunger emitting from the crowd overtakes me as a chill runs down my spine. As I embrace the idea that taking refuge in his songs is not unique, the crowd’s energy engulfs my emotions as feelings of joy, nostalgia, pain, and pride render me vulnerable and raw.

Hundreds follow his figure like a pack of sheep following its shepherd. In that moment, life comes to a stop as the differences among us seem so minuscule — body against body, following the same figure whom we have idolized in our own subjectivity.

Photo Credits: Christian Park