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How Owl City's Music Helps Me Through Sensory Overload

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It is difficult for me to find music that does not negatively affect me. Everything I listen to seems to swirl in my mind. Finding a musical fit for me is like finding someone to fit Cinderella’s slipper. It is a difficult task, but once I find the right ones, I am able to experience a music-inspired joy.

Music means more to me than it might for some other people. It drags me straight into a world of colors, which I experience due to my synesthesia. It calms me down, while most other things would do the opposite. I feel a smile begin on my lips, which unlike most of my smiles, is entirely real. However, if the music does not fit me, it will do the opposite. The colors will flash quickly in front of me. It causes me to feel shaky. Often, it can cause sensory overload.

My teacher in elementary school was the first to introduce me to Owl City. She was telling us about hot air balloons, and decided to play a song along with it. “Hot Air Balloon” by Owl City became one of the first
songs I truly enjoyed. Later on, after “Wreck-It Ralph” came out, I fell in love with another one of Owl City’s songs, “When Can I See You Again?” Life decided to introduce me to his wonderful music at the most perfect time, which I realized after I experienced my first panic attack at age 11.

I soon approached the point where I was unable to leave the house without headphones. As soon as I felt a sensory overload coming on, I would remember the lyrics to one of my favorite songs.

“I was so far out of place
Watching those stars in outer space
’cause I am so far from where you are”

“There’s a light show out my window somewhere way up there”

The lyrics not only were calming, but also were relatable. I felt as if someone were comforting me when I listened to the music. Every time I felt my life was out of control, I would put on my headphones and tune out my troubles. “Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn’t want to live there,” one of his songs, “The Real World,” quotes. I relate to those words in many ways. Adam Young, also known as Owl City, might share many of my troubles. He has talked in an interview about possibly having Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. He has also discussed having insomnia, which is the inspiration for his famous song “Fireflies.”

Although I discovered his music way back in 2009, it still helps me today. I am able to shake my arms in joy when I hear his songs come on. For me, Owl City means being calm, and not only that but being happy.

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Photo source: Owl City Facebook page

Originally published: May 1, 2017
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