Album that changed my life: Twenty One Pilots — Blurryface

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 at 6:16 PM
Album that changed my life: Twenty One Pilots — Blurryface by Shayma Musa

Senior year of high school was the most stressful, agonizing and depressing time of my life to date. The first in my family to apply to college, I had to figure out FAFSA, ACTs and college applications with little insight from the people around me. And ever the perfectionist, I had to balance keeping a near perfect GPA, with leading student council and newspaper club, alongside volunteering. I felt quite literally that, like Atlas, I carried the world on my shoulders, and that if I were to step out of turn and crimp on my responsibilities, for even a moment, that the sky and earth would crash and shatter around me. Like cinderblocks stacked on my chest, the stress ate at me, until six months before I graduated high school, I broke. I remember going to a newspaper meeting and just crying, repeatedly saying: I just don’t want to let them down. 

I’d held the anxiety and stress about getting into college and making my parents proud inside of me for three long years. And like a magnet, it had slowly sucked my energy away until I was hanging on by a thread.  

My advisor pulled me aside, and for an hour she soothed me and helped me get all the stress and anxiety out of my system by listening to me voice thoughts and feelings that I hadn’t felt comfortable sharing with anyone else. A week later in my favorite class of high school — creative writing — my teacher Mrs. McGregor had students share lyrics to their favorite songs. One student shared the lyrics of Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out.” 

I breathed Tyler Joseph’s lyrics like a fish out of water, and for the remaining months of my senior year, the Twenty One Pilots album “Blurryface” was my oxygen. 

I’d work through physics problem sets while mouthing: “Gangsters don’t cry, therefore, therefore I am Mr. Misty-Eyed” from “Heavydirtysoul.” I hyped myself up for exams by dancing to “Lane Boy” and “Fairly Local.” 

In Joseph’s lyrics and Josh Dunn’s smashing drum solos, I found for the first time that I was not alone in my emotions. I also found a band that was able to pen raw emotional lyrics without the cursing that makes most mainstream music unattractive to me.  

Lines like, “Scared of my own image, scared of my own immaturity, scared of my own ceiling, scared I’ll die of uncertainty” from “Doubt,” and “Wish we could turn back time to the good old days when our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out” from “Stressed out,” resonated with me deeply because they captured so perfectly what I was feeling. 

Like so many members of “the Clique,” as Twenty One Pilots fans are called, Joseph and Dunn, in making art out of their life experiences, had managed to touch me when I was at my most low. The duo vocalized the thoughts and feelings I had held within me, and that, combined with their exploration of faith, and their relationship with god throughout the album, makes “Blurryface” the album that changed my life. 

Shayma Musa can be reached at

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