Small Intro to a Big Change
Our childhood is a basis for who we hope to be and what we hope to accomplish. Eventually, we have to transition to adulthood! Transition requires a lot of flexibility. It’s a crazy change, requiring our conscious effort to move on to new things, no matter how they may treat you. It can be scary! “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots discusses this childhood to adulthood transition. Transition is like leaving one chapter behind while moving on to the next one. Though it can be scary, we can use it to our advantage to encourage the birth of the best version of ourselves! “Stressed Out” defines transition through its applicable examples, like relatable childhood scenarios, uncertainty concerning self-confidence and growth, and conclusion in accepting adult responsibility.
The general principle of this song is hesitation to move from childhood to adulthood. Written and sung by Tyler Joseph, with his college friend, Josh Dun, the song is an opinion and life story of the two friends growing up. In the chorus, we see this reluctance to transition displayed in the first two lines, as the singer remembers when his mother used to sing him to sleep. The second verse of the song expresses experiences Tyler felt represented all of what childhood encompassed. The bridge, more detailed, shows many stereotypical childhood memories, including playing pretend, building fantasy travel mechanisms, and dreaming about inconceivable places and worlds which could only be imagined by children.
Change Can be Scary!
The “brutal” world of adulthood is seen in this song as a feared stage of life. Coming from nonchalant and sometimes ignorant childhood, it is! The first verse gives the wishes of Tyler, pointing to the fact that he would improve his ability to sing and write if he was able to. He emphasizes his wishes to find “some better sounds no one’s ever heard,” and to have a “better voice that sang some better words.” These first two lines of the verse rhyme, but in the the last line, Tyler emphasizes his wish not to rhyme every time he sings. He avoids the expected end rhyme, hinting to the fact that caring about what others think has affected the way he produces content.
“My name’s Blurryface and I care what you think” is a phrase consisting of an eerie, almost absent or hollow-sounding pre-chorus that sounds like another person talking to Tyler. Observing these lines closely, we guess that there may be some underlying meaning in the character known as “Blurryface.” We can assume that “Blurryface” is a character created by Tyler used to symbolize the part of him that is insecure or the side no one else sees, who also allows negative input from others to affect what he creates. The only way Tyler would wish to “have a better voice that sang some better words” would be due to his comparison to others’ voices and lyrics. We can see Tyler’s vulnerable mentality in his specific point not to end with rhyme.
The Comforts of Childhood
Tyler raps in the second verse about the scents he sometimes smells that remind him of his childhood. He imagines turning them into a candle and selling it, but realizes his brother would be the only one buying it because he is the only one who Tyler shares a childhood with. In the second part of this same verse, Tyler accentuates that the smell would “remind us of when nothing really mattered.” This may suggest that he would love to revisit this time if it were possible. The last line of this verse, “Out of student loans and tree-house homes we all would take the latter”, reinforces that anyone would want the stress-free life of childhood symbolized by treehouses over the adult life filled with responsibility.
The song’s chorus ties the song together into one coherent piece. The chorus,“Wish we could turn back time to the good old days When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out”, is straightforward, and generalizes the idea of the song in just one line. The second line adds a necessary part to the song’s meaning, suggesting that no matter what the children did, at the end of the day they could always count on their mother’s nighttime song to take away their fears.
The final verse of the song seems to be a banter between an outside source and the singer. The major part, projected by Tyler, is “We used to play pretend,” while the line from the outside source is “Wake up, you need the money.” These phrases could be seen as an internal battle, one between the singer and “Blurryface”, or they could be two distinct people. At the end of the song, the ultimate outcome results in accepting the adult responsibilities and informing listeners that no one can escape them for long. The phrase “Wake up, you need the money”, reinforces the idea of social pressure that often exists, encouraging young people to begin work and to start making an income as an adult.
Its examples of identifiable early-life scenarios, apprehension in emerging into an adult from a child, and the ultimate necessity to accept adult responsibility make “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots a definition of what it means to transition from childhood to adulthood. Nothing in adulthood is more stressful than the fear of not having enough money, and every part of this song emphasizes just that. To be blunt, transition can be scary! As an adult, it is necessary to become fully capable of providing for yourself, completely on your own.
It’s true – no one can escape adulthood for long. Time will always go on, and children will always become adults. Eventually, everyone has to assume typical adult responsibilities. It’s a fact of life! However, as I stated in the beginning, we can use this transition opportunity to become the best version of ourselves and to grow in the best ways.
Watch Twenty One Pilot’s “Stressed Out” Music Video HERE: