I can really, really relate to Ariana Grande’s “breathin”

I have been listening to sweetener consistently ever since its release in August. “blazed” gets the most skip and her version of “goodnight n’ go” gets the most play. But it’s “breathin” that speaks to me the most. Whether you’re an Ariana fan or not, this song simply feels the most familiar.

And finally, after releasing her phenomenal new song “thank u, next,” we’re getting a music video for “breathin’.”

Although “breathin” keeps the whimsical quality present in all the music videos for sweetener, the music video—unlike the rich and playful images for “no tears left to cry” and “God is a woman”—takes a simpler route.

The video begins with Ariana covered by smoke. It jumps to scenes where the world around her is sped up. Then, it takes us to the clouds with Ariana. With lyrics like “I look up and the whole room’s spinning,” “Time goes by and I can’t control my mind,” and “Sometimes it’s hard to find, find my way up into the clouds,” these images are arguably visual translations of anxiety—the main theme of the song.

Although sweetener is a celebration of romance and womanhood, a huge chunk of it is dedicated to the singer’s recovery following the Manchester concert attack in 2017.

“No tears left to cry,” the first single from the album, is an anthem about picking herself up. On the other hand, “breathin” is an honest exploration of anxiety.

In several interviews this year, Ariana revealed that she has always dealt with anxiety.

“My anxiety has anxiety… I’ve always had anxiety. I’ve never really spoken about it because I thought everyone had it, but when I got home from tour it was the most severe I think it’s ever been,” she told British Vogue.

“[Honestly,] therapy has saved my life so many times. [If] you’re afraid to ask for help, don’t be. [You] don’t have to be in constant pain and you can process trauma.”

“Breathin” is also fueled by the post-traumatic stress disorder she had to cope with after the Manchester attack.

In a tweet from May of this year, she wrote:  “[It’s about] my anxiety. I felt like I was floating for like three months last year and not in a nice way. Like, I [was] outside [of] my body? [It] was [very] scary and I couldn’t breathe well. So, it’s [about] that and lots of voices in my head singing. I hope it comforts people who hear it, please.”

Ariana also understands how anxiety creeps in unexpectedly.

“You have ups and downs and sometimes you’ll go weeks at a time where you will be crushing it and there will be no anxiety. Then something will happen that can trigger it and then you have a couple of down days,” she said in an interview with BBC earlier this month.

It’s hard to talk about the things that go in our mind. It’s not easy to open up about anxiety. Ariana admits that. But if there is anything we can learn from Ariana, that is to seek help.

“[Honestly,] therapy has saved my life so many times. [If] you’re afraid to ask for help, don’t be. [You] don’t have to be in constant pain and you can process trauma,” she said in a tweet.

And of course, just keep breathing.

Art by Renz Mart Reyes

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