Song Reflection – “Only”

I find it interesting when I hear a song and it affects me differently than before. I think it’s a sign of change though not necessarily a sign of growth. Whether one has grown depends on several factors that can be difficult to pinpoint and will most likely vary between individuals. However one defines or describes it, one can reflect on one’s own experience and determine whether one has grown or simply changed somehow. I think it’s important to do so.

One of the songs on my workout playlist is “Only” by Nine Inch Nails. It’s usually a warmup song, but I found myself reflecting on the lyrics recently. NiN songs are hardly sunshine-and-rainbows fare, but as I let the words of the first verse sink in, I thought about my self-image and the emotional resolution I’ve found to my lost love.

It has been an excruciating road for me, but I’ve arrived at a place where I understand and embrace confidence and self-worth. Not in a way which is self-absorbed but in a way which enables me to care much more deeply and openly about others, no longer fearing giving of myself because I now know how to set boundaries and to cut off toxic people. Letting go of what was familiar yet painful and destructive has allowed me to embrace what is real and enriched my zest for life. It has been truly cathartic and liberating. I’ll close with the lyrics to the first verse and chorus since those are the ones which apply here, and I’ll omit the repetition as it appears in the song.

I’m becoming less defined as days go by.

Fading away. Well, you might say I’m losing focus.

Kinda drifting into the abstract in terms of how I see myself.

Sometimes I think I can see right through myself.

Less concerned about fitting into the world. Your world, that is.

‘Cause it doesn’t really matter anymore.

Yes I am alone. But then again, I always was

As far back as I can tell.

I think maybe it’s because,

Because you were never really real to begin with.

I just made you up to hurt myself.

And it worked. Yes it did.

There is no you. There is only me.