Listening to Olivia Rodrigo as a 25 year old

I really fought the Olivia Rodrigo craze because I have a complex about being unique and contrary and quite frankly, I re-read all the Percy Jackson books during quarantine so I don’t need another path to regressing back to my teen years.

I finally decided to give it a real shot. And I’ve heard the best way to experience it is to put yourself in her shoes. Really channel that inner teenage angst. So now I’m sitting in my building’s lobby at one of their workspaces being brought to real tears by some Disney Channel teen shill.

I feel like there’s a lot of talk about healing our inner child or re-parenting ourselves but honestly a lot of my inner work feels like sitting in a parked Honda with my 17 year old self and talking to her like I’m her cool, older sister. That’s kind of what listening to Olivia Rodrigo feels like.

I remember what heartbreak felt like at 17. It feels never ending, like you’re smack dab in the middle of an endless sea. It’s probably your first real heartbreak and you cannot fathom doing this again. But you will. And some will be as big as the first one and you will feel adrift for a while but so many more will be these tiny heartbreaks that wear you down.

As a woman it is very hard to not be a bitter nihilist. Any woman who is still hopeful and optimistic in the year of our lord 2021 deserves an award. I am equal parts terrified of and feel great affection for teen girls. They know more about pop culture than me but they are also still more hopeful, more kind, and probably more forgiving than their mid-20s counterparts.

That’s kind of what this album makes me feel like. The kind of emotional pain that is best solved by scream singing to your catharsis song of choice as you whip your mom’s sensible sedan down quiet suburban roads. The kind of hurt that feels both infinite and manageable because you know how young you still are. Because you’re still soft. This album makes me a little more appreciative of everything I’ve learned about picking myself up in the past 8 years.

Sour reminds me of the beautiful vulnerability of being a teenage girl. Maybe a 17 year old has something to teach me after all.

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