That’s Going in the Quote Book: #14

The newest in an ongoing series of Quotes I’ve collected. To see previous posts in the series, click here.

You ever hear a song and it speaks to you in a way that blindsides you, and you know you’ll never forget the first time you heard it? One that makes your stomach go wobbly and your knees weak? One that teaches you the meaning of ‘a visceral reaction?’

Yeah, that’s what Alanis Morissette’s So Unsexy, from the album Under Rug Swept did to me.

It was the chorus. Morissette writes one helluva chorus. I mean, she composes incredible music all around. But she’s absolutely kick ass when it comes to the chorus, and this is one of her best.

I can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful,

So unloved for someone so fine.

I can feel so boring for someone so interesting,

So ignorant for someone of sound mind.

alanis morissette, “so unsexy”

The first time I heard it, I thought, “I could have written that.” (Not, “That could be me.” It was far too perfect for something as distanced as, “That could be me.”) Except I didn’t even know I had any of that going on inside me until I heard it expressed by someone else.

The 25th anniversary of the release of Alanis Morissette’s first album, Jagged Little Pill, was a few days ago. I vividly remember when it was released. It was huge. Like, huge. One of the clearest memories I have about public reaction to it was how many women spoke about feeling like it was their voice, that this was an artist who was speaking both to them and for them.

I was one of those women. And I continued to feel that way with each new album Morissette released. But So Unsexy was different, in that it made me look at myself in a new way, as opposed to reinforcing and validating things I already knew.

See, Under Rug Swept was the first album I bought when I began living on my own for the first time, after my husband and I split, and I was trying to figure out how the hell I’d gotten to where I was in my life. By the measure of certain influential others in my life, I was … well, they wouldn’t have used the word ‘failure,’ but it’s what they meant. Here I was in my 30s, living alone in a bare bones apartment with not near enough money in the bank, when just a few months earlier I’d owned a house, and how could I have walked away from that? Never mind that I’d been miserable – having things was more important than being happy.

Then I heard So Unsexy, and it was like a blocked-off section of my brain opened up as I saw things from the other side. I realized that I didn’t have to judge myself by the same measures others used to judge me. I wasn’t a failure. I was simply living my own version of success. And my own version of success was a perfectly valid one.

And, perhaps most important of all, that my own version of myself is a perfectly valid one.

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