In times of loneliness and vulnerability, songs are our greatest solace. Nilab Siddiqi reflects on the honesty and isolation of identity through the lens of Raleigh Richie’s song “Party Fear.”
It’s an average day in my little life. It’s evening, I’m sprawled atop my bed, Spotify playlist on shuffle, staring at my ceiling and having a random conversation with myself.
A song called “Party Fear” by Raleigh Ritchie comes on, and as the lyrics move along and I listen to what is being sung, I feel myself becoming more and more upset. The song isn’t sad, per se, but as an exhausted 21-year-old, anything and everything with a hint of vulnerability starts to feel like a personal insult.
“I don’t know why I am like this / Honestly I really try.” 
I sigh as this particular lyric is crooned out.
I’d like to think that I’ve been an upfront individual till this point in my life, but that simply is not the case. For as long as I can remember, I have been hiding parts of myself. From my parents, from my siblings, from my cousins, from my friends, from my co-workers, from absolutely everyone. Frankly, it’s the only way I know how to live.
Looking back now, I can confidently say that there’s always been something different about me. I don’t mean that in a self-centred way, I mean it in a “why don’t I function like everyone else?” kinda way. But when I was just a kid, I had no idea what was “wrong” with me or how to stop being that way.
As I grew older, I began to try more and more to fit in. All that meant was that I began hiding things about myself. It didn’t matter if I was struggling, all I ever wanted was for people to stop staring at me, to stop hating me for things out of my control, and so I began to lie.
“I don’t want to be here / I wish I could disappear / Dig a hole and climb into it.” 
This lyric digs even deeper.
I can’t remember the last time it didn’t drive me into a terrible spiral of crippling anxiety to go to a dinner, a party, a date, an appointment, anything. I can’t explain to anyone why. I don’t really know what I’m afraid of, all I know is that fear is potent and all-consuming. It makes my heart race, my lungs constrict, my head swoon, my palms sweat, my world shake.
Of course, I’ve tried. I’ve tried to be “normal,” tried to go to these parties, tried to do what everyone else did. Suffice to say, it didn’t stick.
100% of the time, I panic so hard my vision goes black, and I have to squeeze my eyes shut and pretend my hair is loose, and I’m running into a beautiful little copse, or diving into the still waters of the beach, or, my personal favourite, curling into a little ball and pressing myself into the corner of my room.
These are the only thoughts that tend to calm me down. But, sometimes, they just make me mad. Make me wonder why the fuck I’m here, why am I letting a bunch of people make me feel like a freak? What have I done wrong? Why does any of it matter?
Why the fuck am I here?
“You talk first and I’ll reply / We’ll just stand here otherwise.” 
Now, this is one bitch of a line.
I never know how to talk. I’ve never known how to talk.
I’m not stupid, I know I’m an intelligent and hard-working person. I just don’t get the talking thing, and it gives me the shits. It’s not normal to sit in bed a full week before a dinner and panic about how I’m going to introduce myself to the people attending. I know that, but it’s just how I am.
It sucks because I kind of love talking sometimes. I have so many thoughts about absolutely everything. Planets? Yeah. Windows? Yeah. Monkeys? Yeah. Queer vampires? Yeah. Fucking couches? Yeah! But I never know how to approach it and, most of the time, it just isn’t in my instinct to talk. And so, people just assume I’m mean, rude, stuck up. I guess it’s easier for them to jump to that conclusion than to think critically about anything.
So, I lie. I say I’m sick, I say I’m tired, I say my family needs me. It’s easier to avoid, avoid, avoid, than to try and fail and be hated.
I think I’m much more honest these days. What I’m writing right this second is proof of that. I know now that I’m probably not “normal,” whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean anyway, but I think I’m tired of caring so much.
Hearing songs like this from people I respect so much have been absolutely crucial in me being okay with being me. I can’t even begin to explain how comforting it is to be seen and understood.
 Ritchie, Raleigh. “Party Fear.” Spotify. https://open.spotify.com/track/5TagOSob2rhCeltUpSyOP4?si=9b883096230946c7