My Spotify Says I Have Changed

Is it time, as Chris Brown sang, to “Say Goodbye” to my old self?

Ria Tagulinao

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My pre-pandemic birthday celebration (author in the middle) | February 2020

At the end of 2020, my Spotify Wrapped revealed that after three years, Chris Brown — if you’re reading this, Breezy, I’m sorry — was officially dethroned as my top artist. He was now second to my girl NIKI, a Gen Z Asian indie singer who had a totally different vibe. I was surprised for about two seconds until I thought, of course, this could only mean one thing: I had truly turned over a new leaf.

I say this with full awareness of the tremendous pain this global crisis has caused and of my privilege, but here’s my personal truth: I sorely needed this pause from the pandemic.

As it is with work burnout, I didn’t know it hit me until it was too late. But when the proverbial final straw came, I quit my job, which, as fate would have it, was days before W.H.O officially sounded the alarm on Covid-19. Before you know it, our country’s infamously long lockdown had begun.

With the spare, silent, and slowed time on my hands, I was desperate to nurse myself back to a decent state of being. I imagined going back to work, back to the normal world, and being able to tell myself, “This time, it’s going to be different.”

So I drank the kool-aid of self-help, tried keto to quickly get back to shape (it worked, but I soon admitted that life isn’t worth living without carbs), and dabbled in 10,000 hobbies. But the thing that really sparked a light in me was this: writing.

I wasn’t conscious of it then, but the page had become the place where I looked myself square in the eye. My limiting beliefs, unhealthy patterns, and insecurities came into such razor-sharp focus, and I used the written word to purge myself of all those things that no longer or never served me. By the end of the year, the shifts in my thinking had become so stark, my sense of priority so refreshing it felt like I’d made a whole new me.

My “pandemic self”, I called this version. In a piece I wrote the following year, I reminded myself of my new non-negotiables — which were mostly things I used to take for granted. It made me remember how I mishandled so many things, how I was so unaware of myself. And I was afraid of relapsing to that old self. “I can never…

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Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina Writer | To stay up-to-date with my work, here's my Sunday newsletter: http://riatagulinao.substack.com