Let me set the scene: I’m 16, realizing that I think very differently than my family. The typical Asian narrative of the duties of the daughters doesn’t sit right in my mouth but I’m not old enough or independent enough to question it.

But the thing is, is I’m not subtle, it’s not in my nature, which leads to arguments, screaming, and words that have remained etched in me for the past six years.

Alone is a five-letter word that creates an expanse of nothingness and that is all I had.

My friends, albeit were great but they were white, they couldn’t understand it on the level that I needed them to. I did have staff members that I could trust but they couldn’t be with me all of the time.

One of my friends introduced me to All Time Low and from then on, the expanse began to shrink. The loud riffs and lyrics made me feel full, I didn’t feel alone anymore it felt that someone was there and listening.

So, I became obsessed with music, there wasn’t a day I wasn’t wearing headphones, or humming to myself. It gave me an out that allowed me, for the first time, to just stop and think. The louder the music, the more I could think.

Growing up in Manchester, I always knew the importance of music. I spent most of my time in record shops. This meant that I was introduced to all types of music from people who took the scared Muslim girl in.

Even now, when I came back home after University, my music family was still there. Music has always given me the comfort I struggled to find in my relationships.

So, when I started dating, that’s what I was looking for. That level of peace and belonging I’d only ever really found in my headphones or at a very sweaty gig!

I haven’t found it. I’ve been with people I’ve deeply cared about but I’ve never felt like I completely belonged. There was always something I felt like I had to change about myself; be less of who I am and that isn’t wholly healthy.

That vulnerability, that ‘take me as I am’ is difficult to find, but I’d always found it in music.

Honestly, I struggle to put into words why I love music, even thinking about it puts tears in my eyes. Pure and simple, it saved a very lost person and gave her the strength to take on the world.

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  • Aafiyah Shaikh

    Aafiyah is a graduate from Lancaster University with a BA in International Relations. In her spare time, she loves writing poetry, and dismantling racist and patriarchal structures