The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday February 3rd

Office DJ: Songs to ground yourself when you are tired of shape-shifting

Elevate Co-Editor Tania Tobaccowala pictured in 2005. Photo Courtesy of Tania Tobaccowala
Buy Photos Elevate Co-Editor Tania Tobaccowala pictured in 2005. Photo Courtesy of Tania Tobaccowala

CHAPEL HILL, Sept. 2021 — Exhaustion runs through my veins as I return to my apartment at 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday.          

I think through my day as my brain starts playing a montage, like a coming-of-age film. I often recap my day through a series of flashbacks, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, I'm not sure.                

When interacting with people, I am hyper-aware of how they respond to certain ideas of mine. I pride myself on paying attention to the details; therefore, being significantly affected by any glitches in nature. 

I am a sensitive person, but not many people would think so. It makes me wonder how high this wall around me is, the one I have created with artificial stones, each stone for each scene that comprises my day. 

And so it begins, with an aspect ratio of 4:3 and a melancholy piano score, the montage of my day. Close-up shots of fake smiles and forced laughter. There is no well-written dialogue of me pretending to care how someone’s day is going. It's mostly conversations where I am trying to impress others by putting on an "unbothered" persona, while the voice-over narration goes, “Tania often wonders how people don’t see through this act.” 

Am I enough? The question sometimes floods my mind. It’s a difficult tangle of feelings, and every now and then, they weigh me down like an anchor. 

Sometimes, when you are not confident in who you are, it is hard to put yourself first when interacting with others. You frequently think that they don’t really care about who you are, what you are doing or where you come from. But when you are constantly shape-shifting faster than you can even process the changes around you, it is hard to feel satisfied.  

This square-peg-in-a-round-hole nonsense had gone on for far too long. 

This is where music, being the protagonist of my life, comes in. Music has always had healing powers over me. It grounds me when I am tired of shape-shifting. Certain songs remind me of who I am and all the steps I took to get where I am today. The real building blocks of my personality and not the artificial ones I sometimes feel pressured to replace them with.  

So, let’s try again. 

CHAPEL HILL, Jan. 2023 — Take two of the montage. The mise-en-scène is the same, but my mindset is different. 

The screenplay doesn’t have too many edits and the lines are not very refined. These days, being honest with myself and others is what is important to me — vulnerable when I need to be and asking for help often. 

It is incredible how much lighter I have felt without the constant facade. This time the voice-over narration goes, “Tania feels fulfilled when expressing who she really is.”

I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t oscillate between the chaos and the calm. It's unrealistic not to feel influenced by other people’s perceptions of you. But, it's not unrealistic to try and find what makes you you. I have found the music within me and used it to create my own purpose, journey and story. 

Credits roll as these songs start playing:


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