As originally published on a now-deleted Facebook page on December 31, 2014

Two separate streams of unfettered consciousness converged within hours of each other this May.

On one hand, the culmination of four years of an overly ambitious, high-achieving student, fresh off a semester of straight A’s that barely vaulted his GPA into the echelon of Latin Honors, off a yearlong internship that culminated in a Small Business of the Year award.

On the other hand, the culmination of four years of self-destructive tendencies, of flirting with a cutie named chaos, of escalating alcoholism functioning as a social crutch on a mass scale.

It was around 1:30 A.M. the night before the 8:00 A.M. commencement ceremony when I finally understood what was happening, the value of everything that would soon be out of reach. Months of days planned down to the minute had delayed the inevitable, and my procrastination in embracing this impending departure drastically empowered its gravitas. Crippled with an overwhelming anxiety, I submitted myself to the night, finding inspiration from DJ Snake and Lil’ John who commanded from a proverbial mountaintop, “Fire up loud, another round of shots.”

Three or four hours later, I forewent a sunrise hike and stumbled into bed, leaving behind a colossal wasteland of controlled anarchy that would likely cause the aforementioned visionary Mr. John to proclaim, “OKAY!”

The commencement, nay, the “Honors Convocation,” (we like to pat ourselves on the back, okay?) offered supremely valuable advice that I ignored at the time because of stubbornness and a miserable hangover. Specifically, Jim McKelvey, the co-founder of Square delivered a commencement speech that hit the nail on the GD head:

Today I have the unique privilege of giving you the last praise you’re ever going to receive. I’m not kidding. From the time you spoke your first words, all the way through school, you’ve been encouraged by your parents and teachers and friends, and it’s how we got you to tie your shoes, to practice that instrument, to factor that second order homogeneous differential equation. It’s a currency that we’ve used liberally to encourage you, and like most currencies, there’s been a certain amount of inflation. When you’re an infant, all we needed to do was a simple smile. Then, we used words, then stars, then stickers, then points, then grades, and today, it culminates with a diploma, Cum Laude, but that’s about it. We’re out of ammo. Tomorrow, and every tomorrow thereafter, you’re not going to get much praise.

There’s much more to the speech than this excerpt, and I highly recommend it to recent graduates.

Sometime in late July, my roommate/mother asked me to take some expiring food to a local pantry. For 10 days, I couldn’t find the motivation within myself to drive somewhere and feed a stranger, my excuse being that I needed another reason to leave the house. In actuality, I slept 12+ hours a day, grew an unkempt beard and haplessly refreshed my social media feeds as if the cure to all of my problems existed somewhere within a tweet posted by someone I barely talked to in high school. When I finally found a reason to leave my house, it was to return a book I never read to the library, any by then, the food had expired. (FOR THE RECORD, NOBODY EVER READS “INFINITE JEST”)

In late September, I interviewed for a dream job at Google and was rejected in the final round. Someone told me shortly afterward, “I always get so worried when you say you thought you did great in an interview, because I know you’re not going to get it and the rejection will destroy you.” I went for a walk and wept for, like, two hours. I believe it was Kim Jong-un who said, “You know what hurts more than nuclear bombs? Words.”

But sometimes you need that brutal kick in the ass to just get up and do something. I started running whenever a sense of dread or misery would flush over me, and I wouldn’t stop until I was out of breath and I forgot about my stupid, shitty life. You know, my stupid, shitty life where my parents cared about me so much that they let me decompress and do nothing but spend their money for five months. My stupid, shitty life where countless friends constantly checked in with me to see how I was doing, even though they already knew the answer.

Growing up, I was always told I was smart. When I received good grades or did well in leadership positions or produced anything of value, I received praise about my intelligence. And when you’re young and immature and unconfident, approval is the ultimate measure of success, so I always attributed my successes to my supposed intelligence. Of course, when I failed, I would also attribute that to my overall self-worth. See: above. My roommate/mother reminded me about how I used to spend hours every day playing basketball on my driveway, but I would be too afraid to shoot during games.

There’s a psychologist named Carol Dweck who studies motivation with an emphasis on those who fear failure. Her linked Wikipedia page contains the passage pasted below:

According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a “fixed” theory of intelligence (fixed mindset). Others, who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training and doggedness are said to have a “growth” or an “incremental” theory of intelligence (growth mindset). Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behavior. It is especially evident in their reaction to failure. Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities, while growth mindset individuals don’t mind or fear failure as much because they realize their performance can be improved and learning comes from failure. These two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person’s life. Dweck argues that the growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life.

Anyway, I think it’s pretty clear how this all relates. As far as I’m concerned, though, things are trending up. I started working for a good company with great people. I entered the Turkey Trot and ran eight miles faster than I ever had before. And I’m launching a podcast with my dear friend and former radio show co-host Kristian. (DOWNLOAD ON ITUNES FOR 10 EASY PAYMENTS OF $0 !!! Also plz like the Facebook page.) As Little John might posit, “YEAH!”

Soooo now that that whole mess is out of the way, you can find my favorite albums and songs of this year listed without comment below. Let me know about all of the things I missed so I can check’em out. Gracias.

ALBUMS

Favorite Tracks: Carissa, Dogs

19. Flying Lotus — You’re Dead!

Favorite Tracks: Never Catch Me, Dead Man’s Tetris

18. Sylvan Esso — Sylvan Esso

Favorite Tracks: Hey Mami, Coffee, Uncantena

17. Caribou — Our Love

Favorite Tracks: Can’t Do Without You, Back Home

16. TV on the Radio — Seeds

Favorite Tracks: Happy Idiot, Right Now

15. Glass Animals — Zaba

Favorite Tracks: Gooey, Cocoa Hooves

14. Walk the Moon! — Talking is Hard

Favorite Tracks: Shut Up and Dance, Portugal, Down In the Dumps

13. Foster the People — Supermodel

Favorite Tracks: Are You What You Want To Be?, Coming of Age

12. Hotelier — Home, Like Noplace Is There

Favorite Tracks: In Framing, Discomfort Revisited

11. Alvvays — Alvvays

Favorite Tracks: Archie Marry Me, Party Police, Atop a Cake

10. Broken Bells — After the Disco

Favorite Tracks: Holding on for Life, Control, No Matter What You’re Told

9. Cloud Nothings — Here and Nowhere Else

Favorite Tracks: No Thoughts, I’m Not Part of Me

8. St. Vincent — St. Vincent

Favorite Tracks: Birth in Reverse, Digital Witness

7. Todd Terje — It’s Album Time

Favorite Tracks: Swing Star (Part 1), Inspector Norse

6. Spoon — They Want My Soul

Favorite Tracks: Rent I Pay, Inside Out, I Just Don’t Understand

5. Future Islands — Singles

Favorite Tracks: Seasons (Waiting On You), Fall From Grace

4. Black Keys — Turn Blue

Favorite Tracks: Turn Blue, Fever

3. Run the Jewels 2 — Run the Jewels 2

Favorite Tracks: Blockbuster Night Part 1, Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck), Early

2. Real Estate — Atlas

Favorite Tracks: Had to Hear, April’s Song, Crime

1. The War on Drugs — Lost in the Dream

Favorite Tracks: Red Eyes, An Ocean in Between the Waves

HONORABLE MENTIONS — ALBUMS

  • alt-J — This Is All Yours
  • Future — Honest
  • Parquet Courts — Sunbathing Animal
  • Sam Smith — In The Lonely Hour
  • Taylor Swift — 1989

SONGS

24. TOO MANY COOKS

23. Flying Lotus — Never Catch Me (ft. Kendrick Lamar)

22. St. Vincent — Brith in Reverse

21. The Kongos — Come With Me Now

20. Iggy Azalea — Fancy (feat. Charli XCX)

19. Foster the People — Are You What You Want to Be?

18. Real Estate — Had to Hear

17. Broken Bells — Control

16. Caribou — Back Home

15. Sylvan Esso — Coffee

14. Run the Jewels — Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)(ft. Zac De La Rocha)

13. Todd Terje — Inspector Norse

12. Glass Animals — Gooey

11. Sylvan Esso — Uncatena

10. The War on Drugs — Red Eyes

9. Taylor Swift — Shake It Off

8. The Black Keys — Fever

7. Run the Jewels — Blockbuster Night Part 1

6. Spoon — Inside Out

5. TV on the Radio — Happy Idiot

4. Serial

3. Future Islands — Seasons (Waiting On You)

2. Kendrick Lamar — i

1. The War on Drugs — An Ocean in Between the Waves

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST

HONORABLE MENTIONS — SONGS

  • FKA twigs — Two Weeks
  • Iggy Azalea — Black Widow (ft. Rita Ora)
  • Phantogram — Black Out Days
  • Sun Kil Moon — Dogs

SONGS THAT APPARENTLY DIDN’T COME OUT THIS YEAR BUT WOULD HAVE CRACKED THE TOP 10

  • Pitbull (ft. Ke$ha) — Timber
  • Genesis — That’s All

CONCERTS

  • Kanye West
  • Deafheaven
  • Andrew Bird
  • Index Festival
  • Sylvan Esso

If you like my writing style, you can check out an essay I wrote in November called “Perks Without Repercussions.” If you don’t, you can just ignore me and move on with your life! Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!