My last weekend was spent in the paradise that is the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. A magical world where hipsters from all walks of life unite under the Indio sun to drink alcohol, indulge in drugs of every form, listen music, and talk about their ironic lifestyles. We all acknowledge that half of the appeal of Coachella is the trendiness that comes along with it. Many treat it as a fashion show, some just want to be able to say that they went knowing very little about the bands playing, and others use it as an excuse to dance in zero to no clothing. Just as suspected, it was in fact four days full of dirty hippies, wide-eyed junkies, and one too many trendy girls in flower crowns. However, I am not an innocent Coachella goer. You better believe that I rocked a flower crown and had every outfit planned out down to the last accessory. I swayed to the seductive sounds of The XX, wept as Alt-J performed “Breezeblocks,” danced like a fool at Jurassic 5, and hugged more strangers than I would like to admit to.
Although the main reason that people gather in Indio are to witness performances by some of today’s most talented musicians, I truly feel that there is magic in the air that keeps everyone coming back year after year. A magic that I like to call the “festival feeling.” I didn’t understand this feeling until the second day of the festival as I lie in the grass surrounded by my best friends listening to Yeaseyar’s set. There was a sense of freedom that washed over me. Freedom from the judgments of society and the freedom to love and soak up every last drop of joy from that moment and every moment there after. I experienced a complete loss of judgment of others, which was replaced by the beautiful embrace of differences and accompanied by all the respect in the world for the people that were just being themselves. If a 400 pound grizzly bear of a man wants to howl at the rising moon during Modest Mouse, then I say, “Fucking go for it big guy, good for you!”
Strangers became friends, insecurities went out the window, and I was able to see everything in a positive light. There is no combination of words to do this “festival feeling” justice; it is something that you have to experience for yourself to create your own definition.
Sadly, my fairy tale weekend had to come to an end. Stepping back into my apartment a depression instantly swept across me. It hit me that I was back to the grind of a twenty-something college student and all of the negative energy that comes along with it. The thought of walking into my campus gym made me cringe. I couldn’t imagine subjecting myself to seeing all the stick thin, sweat free girls and guys in frat tanks only half working out. I dreaded having to return to a place where everyone walked with his or her head down, just going through the motions trying to get through the day. I didn’t want to go back to sitting in class pretending to pay attention, while I actually surf the Internet for clothes that I can’t afford. My reality that I had known was now my nightmare and the happy-go-lucky feeling I had over the weekend seemed like a distant dream.
Why can’t reality always have that “festival feeling”?
I believe that it can. Southern California has societal pressures that leave people with a harsh and judgmental mindset. We have it programmed in our brain to compare ourselves to others instead of embracing individuality. The influence of the media and today’s society are always going to be there, but if we recognize that these are only ideas manifested by American culture this feeling can become a reality. We should be fighting for ourselves as individuals and be flaunting our quirks, not disguising them.
With some digging, I discovered that my “festival feeling” stems directly from the wonderful people that I have in my life. It got me thinking about how much the people we surround ourselves with can affect who we are in the moment and who we are to become in the future. It’s those humans that see the beauty in diversity that you should have in your life. Surround yourself with the people that believe in you as an individual and make you a better human being.
This is the time. Find the ones that give you your “festival feeling” and never let them go.