Everyone Needs An Anthem

Enjoy the process of exploration.

Enjoy the process of exploration even without an anthem.

Yesterday, after lunch with a few friends, I decided to listen to the radio for my short drive home. Flipping the dial, I found an old favorite song playing. As I listened, and as I relived the memories associated with that song, I realized that the song no longer meant the same thing to me. At one time, it was my theme song, an anthem about who I was and who I wanted to become, that I embraced with all of the gusto of my passions.

Theme Songs

Growing up, I knew the theme songs from nearly every TV show playing and would sing along with them, much to the dismay of my family. Some songs provided the whole setup for the show, like Gilligan’s Island or The Brady Bunch. Other shows set a mood, like the themes from Taxi and M*A*S*H and Miami Vice. They captured something essential about the shows.

My personal anthems are a bit like those TV theme songs. They capture a truth about me at a point in time. They are etched into my brain permanently. And I’ve sung them, often at the top of my lungs, more times than I could count.

Personal Anthems

As I thought more about the songs that have rotated through as my personal anthems, I realized they played different roles in my life.

  • Relationship songs. These songs capture the excitement or the dreams for the future for the relationship. For some relationships, I have my song and we had our song.  (If you don’t have a relationship song, you guys need to find one!) I can’t hear How Will I Know by Whitney Houston or Head over Feet by Alanis Morrisette without blushing with the memories of now lost loves.
  • Moment-in-time songs. These songs take me right back to a major event in my life like a time machine. For example, every time I hear Jack & Diane by John Mellencamp, I’m 24 and riding in a convertible top down with several girlfriends on our way to the Indiana State Fair to see him perform.  Or when I hear We Are Family by Sister Sledge, I’m once again that 19-year-old college sophomore who just rushed her sorority and was enjoying a new kind of campus life.
  • Battle songs. These songs contained my pain and anger, and singing them helped me to stay strong in the face of a challenge. As I was deciding to start my own business, I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty was the salve I needed to return to battle each day.
  • Empowerment song. These songs capture the essence of something I want to become, and singing them inspired me to become that person. Soak Up The Sun by Sheryl Crow and Don’t Tell Me by Madonna both inspired me to change myself for the better.

I tried to recall all of my past anthems, but I’m sure my list doesn’t include them all. What I noticed is that I can’t recall ever having two anthems at the same time, even for different purposes.

Searching For An Anthem

The song that came on the radio was a former empowerment song. I have fond memories of it, and remember how hard I worked to become the person that song inspired me to be. But it doesn’t engage me like it used to engage me. Perhaps that is normal since I have become that person.

As I went back through my list of anthems, I realized that none of those songs currently has the electricity or the power of a current anthem. And that made me realize that I don’t have an anthem today. I spent some time thinking about this, and I realized something else. I also am not sure what I want to do next in my life, or what changes I want to make next in my life. Is that just an interesting observation, or do these two things have a more complex relationship. Is it possible that my current state of exploration has created both of these things, that there is a correlation between them? It seems logical.

I’m happy with my current situation. I’m happy to honestly admit that I’m exploring options and I’m not sure what direction I will head out next. I don’t feel any lack of guidance or have any sense of floundering while I’m exploring. In fact, I’m busier now than I have been at times when I had a clear direction and goal!

I would love to find an anthem about this, about being content to sit with what is in my life, to be happy exploring options without feeling any compulsion to choose a direction or path. If you know a song like this, I’d love to hear about it.

Because everyone needs an anthem, right?

About author:

Charlene is the information strategist behind Crow Information Design.

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