Earlier today Hayley Williams penned an essay for Paper Magazine which saw her reflect on mental health, anxiety, growth and empathy – this is what we learnt from it.
After Laughter marked a shift in the paradigm for Paramore. The band that I have always associated with unrelenting hope, released a body of work that explored feelings of dire hopelessness. It was an album that dealt with very human, very ugly emotions. It penned feelings of bitterness, betrayal and disappointment against a glimmering, saccharine 80s soundscape.
Within her essay, Hayley delves into the trials and tribulations of After Laughter’s creative process. She elaborates on the confusion that came with exploring a version of herself that was never given a voice. About embracing all the ugly, scary emotions and letting them manifest into songs.
“We wrote and wrote and I never liked what I put to the music Taylor sent me. His stuff sounded inspired. My parts sounded, to me, like someone dead in the eyes. I didn’t know the person behind those words”
She stresses the profound impact that writing had on her mental health. How it enabled her to empathise with mental illness and to unpack all the things that she was feeling. I could continue to rehash her essay but you’d be better off reading it for yourself. It would be a disservice to attempt to rewrite another’s feelings.
I owe a lot to Paramore. They were the band that taught me how to feel things, unapologetically. The earnestness within their music made it easier for me to access my own vulnerability. During my formative years, it moved me in an indelible way, it is what I turned to when nothing else made sense. It is also probably why I’m such a feel-everything-all-the-time-cry-baby.
At the core of all things, I’ll take Hayley’s essay and After Laughter as a reminder to find empowerment in all emotion. To use experiences to harness growth. The most trying times often serve as a lesson on being kinder to ourselves. To paraphrase Leonard Cohen, cracks are where the light gets in.