By Olivia Cerci

Jacey Gould is on a quest to share some songs from her “uncool playlist.”

This year, Jacey, a junior at Wheaton College, is learning some important lessons about life, love, and vulnerability from her acting teacher. The brown-eyed brunette, clad in a pea-coat and patterned fall scarf, radiated with enthusiasm as she began to speak of her class. 

“There’s this one exercise we do that goes through what a basic day of our life might look like. A lot of people will play music in the background because it’s like they are listening to music. [My teacher] said don’t play a song unless it’s from your “uncool playlist.’”

Shyness and Soul Bearing

Jacey, who listens to a myriad of music in her own daily life, notes there is an important distinction between sharing music that will gain wider acceptance and that which might be unfamiliar and odd to listeners but have a deeper significance for the one playing it. 

“It’s easy to hear a popular song and say ‘Oh I love that song too,’” Jacey says. “But if its a song I liked when I was 12 and I still like, even though it’s not a cool song, it reveals more about me than whether or not I like the latest Ariana Grande. I’ve found in my class it’s something people have really had trouble with.” 

For Jacey, music is very important and personal. Her acting class experience has been a challenge to her comfort zone and pushing her to love others in a deeper way. There is a difficulty in sharing one’s ‘uncool playlist’ with others because of perceptions of what others might think of you and a vulnerability with songs one connects to the most. Nonetheless, Jacey is determined to share one such song with her class in an effort to be authentic and forthright with her peers. She desires to improve on being open to other people about what she is going through, as opposed to keeping most of her life very private.

Leaving a Legacy of Love

The pursuit of presenting her ‘uncool playlist’ is just one of many avenues on Jacey’s journey to greater care and compassion. A driving force in Jacey’s life is the legacy she wants to leave behind. 

“I want people to remember me as someone who was loving towards others…towards everyone,” Jacey says. “Someone who shows God’s love. I don’t consider myself good at that all the time. Sometimes I get caught up in my own thoughts and don’t focus on those around me. I want to be remembered as someone who God used to love and help other people.”

In a world with various conceptions of love, Jacey thinks that “loving people well is abandoning your care about what others think about you in order to serve other people. That is an idea that I really like because that is not how I am. I am a 4 on the Enneagram and 4s are very self-centered. I don’t want to be that and I know unless I rely on God more to help me focus on others, I’m not going to change.”

Her belief that vulnerability is a central facet to loving and connecting with others is a foundational element of Jacey’s quest. Like her music, Jacey wants to share life with people more. She says she “wants to share the little things with people more. I come off as distant to some people and I don’t want to.”

Deeper Beneath the Surface

Jacey’s present roommate, Cassidy Keenan, was able to affirm these qualities. Cassidy emphasizes Jacey’s desire to be open with others, even when it may at first be difficult. 

“When I first met Jacey, we were in class together,” Cassidy said. “She didn’t speak much, so I thought she must be incredibly shy and saw the world differently than I did. One day after class we ended up in the cafeteria together, and we decided to get an impromptu meal. We talked for three hours! I have grown to know her more and more. I have been able to see the hilarious, crazy, thoughtful, and insightful personality behind the quieter exterior.”

Even over the course of a short conversation, the depth and emotion that radiated through Jacey were tangible and real. Her continued revelation of her heart and thoughts was a delightful process. Passing the topic of music, she began some significant introspection as she considered what valuable words to share next. 

“It’s always hard for me to talk about myself,” she mentioned as she paused to think. “I’m very detail-oriented and empathetic, I can feel when another person is upset. I know empathy is a good step in learning how to love people well.”

Sharing Lessons from the Lord

She continued to pry further into her heart’s pains, joys, struggles and triumphs over the past year, sharing with me more of herself.  After contemplating some of the ways she has seen God work, she closed our conversation with a story.

“I think God has taught me a lot and is still continuing to teach me a lot about anxiety. Worrying about specific things doesn’t make those things better. It is still something I am trying to get through.”

Jacey paused as she collected her thoughts. “One time I was walking past the batting cages and there was a dove stuck inside one of them. It was just flying around frantically. I called my mom and I said, ‘I don’t know how to get this dove out. I don’t know how long it has been in here.’ ”

Her eyes sparkled as she smiled and continued. “I clipped up the net on the side. It still didn’t see it and kept flying around, so I clipped up the net a little bit more. Then I went to the back of the batting cage and chased it out. It was really sad before it left, just going back and forth and making crying noises. When I talked to my mom later she said, ‘You know, it’s kind of like you and me. The bird didn’t see the way out because it was so anxious about being there. It was flying back and forth even when there was a way out.’ At first, I thought it didn’t apply to my life, but it really does.” 

Her Hopes of Authenticity Became a Reality

Jacey, in an attempt to love others by baring her soul before them, was more than successful during my interview. While she may still be searching for a song or two to share from her ‘uncool playlist,’ she shared more than an abundance of her heart and encourages others to do the same. 

Jacey’s lessons from the Lord and her acting teacher have continued to form her admirable character and mission. In the years to come, not only will Jacey’s journey include sharing her songs, but her life will be a symphony and sweetness of heartfelt tunes of grace as she continues to compose ways to set forth her soul for others. 

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