I tried to be perfect
But nothing was worth it
I don’t believe it makes me real
I’d thought it’d be easy
But no one believes me
I meant all the things I said

I’ve found that as I have gotten older, my taste in music has gotten progressively more eclectic. Artists and bands that I had previously dismissed as “not my thing” are starting to get regular play, particularly thanks to the “smart radio” and “suggested playlist” type features of streaming services like Google Play Music. One such band is Sum 41.

The other day when I was out for one of my rare walks around the neighborhood, the song “Pieces” came on through my headphones and the first verse immediately struck a chord with me. In previously blog posts (and vlogs), I’ve discussed some of my existential challenges and how I feel like I’m not living up to expectations, how I’m not living up to my potential.

That first verse, though, got me thinking whether I’m trying to accomplish whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish for me or if I am overly concerned with what other people think. Am I trying to “be perfect” for someone else? Am I just trying to “fit in” and conform to societal expectations? If so, am I being inauthentic? Am I just putting on a mask? Should I focus more on being true to myself?

If you believe it’s in my soul
I’d say all the words that I know
Just to see if it would show
That I’m trying to let you know
That I’m better off on my own

In reading the lyrics to “Pieces” by Sum 41, specifically as it relates to the chorus here, we are given the impression that this song is about a romantic relationship. And you can certainly interpret the lyrics in that way.

But another way to think about it is that the song could be about our relationship with the world at large, how we choose to interact with those around us. Maybe it’s about the relationship you have with your siblings, your parents, and your coworkers. Maybe it’s about the relationship we have with the other members of Facebook groups.

In trying to appease the (expressed and unexpressed) wants and expectations of these other individuals, are we sacrificing a part of ourselves? Do you put on that Instagram-worthy smile because that’s what is expected of you and not because you actually feel like smiling?

In the music video (which I’ve embedded below), we see Sum 41 lead singer Deryck Whibley walking down the street as live displays of the “perfect vacation” and the “perfect night” drive past him. Instead of entering into or engaging with these caricatured frames, he decides that he’s better off on his own.

This place is so empty
My thoughts are so tempting
I don’t know how it got so bad
Sometimes it’s so crazy that nothing could save me
But it’s the only thing that I have

Suicide is a very difficult topic, especially when we feel like cannot openly discuss our mental health challenges. Those who suffer with depression oftentimes feel like they have to suffer on their own. Eventually it gets to be too much, to the point that “nothing could save me,” to the point where “my thoughts are so tempting.”

If we can learn anything from songs like “Pieces” by Sum 41 or by tragic stories like that which befell Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington, it’s that we need to open up these channels of communication. We need to talk. And we need to stop trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations that society thrusts upon us.