On my iPod, I have a playlist named “Life songs”, which are songs from important moments of my life, or songs with lyrics that really struck me during an important period of my life.
One of the songs on this playlist is called Once by Shane Filan (some of you may know him as the former lead vocalist of the Irish boyband Westlife), and it’s very close to my heart because this song came into my life during one of the most stressful periods of my life: 2014, my last term in college.
But first, I would like to share how I came across this song and what I was going through during that time: I have always been a huge fan of Westlife, and I followed each member’s career closely even after they disbanded (I still do up to this day!). When Shane launched a solo career and flew to the Philippines to promote his EP, he sang several Westlife hits along with his new songs as a solo artist and I came to see him perform. While I loved all the songs he sang, my world just stopped when he started singing Once. The song really spoke to me because it was a dose of positivity that I sorely needed at a very difficult time; I was trying to finish my thesis, pass a class with a bitchy professor who loves bullying students (and I, unfortunately, was one of the favorite targets lol), and look for jobs that I can get into after graduation, among others. Most of my attempts to get by during that period were unsuccessful and I was just so, so worried about everything that I didn’t even have time for myself and my family and even got health problems because of overworking.
With all those things in my head even during the show, I was really caught by surprise when Shane sang the first few lines:
Worry ’bout work, worry ’bout money
Worry if the punchline’s funny
We worry if the sky’s gonna fall
Worry ’bout winning, worry ’bout losing
Worry ’bout the roads we’re choosing
Or worry if that someone’s gonna call
We spend so much precious time tryin’ to figure out
What this crazy maze of a beautiful world is all about
It was brilliant. And when he sang the chorus, I knew immediately that this song was for me and for all the things that I was feeling at that moment.
So kick on back, fill your cup
Put on your favorite song, turn it up
Find a little peace of mind in the sunshine
Don’t waste your days looking at the clock
Say “I love you” to the ones you’ve got
Don’t leave a lifetime of rights on the wrong side
‘Coz you only live once, once, once
It’s a very chill, very simple song. But I felt like it was a message that I needed to hear. I was thinking of so many things during that year that I didn’t even think of myself and the people around me. I was so worried that if I stopped working, everything would go downhill for me. Sure, being hardworking is great but everyone has limitations. I didn’t realize that working too hard, hanging out with people who liked to pressure me, and overthinking things were actually making things worse for me. So instead of letting all this negativity consume me, why not chill out, take a break, and give myself time to think and surround myself with positive people? After all, everything that I am going through, no matter how tough, will pass. But the things that matter most will always be there. It’s a message that’s on my mind until this day; while I like working hard and challenging myself, my achievements should not come at the expense of my personal time, relationships, and health. Sometimes everyone needs a break and it’s not a bad thing to sit down, let it all out, and bond with the people you love.