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Hey! My name is Max Gruber and I am a rising sophomore majoring in neurobiology at UCSD. I have worked as a Mental Health Advocate at Acacia, La Jolla over the past year and I am excited to continue my work at Acacia as a Co-Lead for the Mental Health Advocate Team this coming year. 

What are you passionate about?

A lot of things. I love learning, reading, my friends and family, my dog, and Uncrustables – among a long list of other such things. What I have found to be most universally loved and one of the things I am most passionate about, however, is music. I have yet to (and don’t think I ever will) meet someone who genuinely dislikes all music. There are quite a few conversations with people talking about songs and artists they resonate with – it’s a magical thing. Music is one of the only mediums so expansive & multi-faceted that within a matter of minutes you can go from crying to laughing to dancing – all of which may be elicited by the same artist, same album, or even the same song. 

What does music do for you?

Music is one of the key players on my, “figure out what you’re doing with your life” team. It helps me express how I feel, bond with other people during a difficult time, and fill the silence & emptiness with meaning. You know that feeling you get when you’re with that special someone… or doing that special thing you love to do… when time just seems to melt away… when you forget everything else except what you’re doing in that moment… and by the time you have to return to the real world, what felt like fifteen minutes was really three and a half hours? That’s what music does for me. Of course, it’s hard to find time for those moments amidst relationships, responsibilities, and school. But here and there I try to carve out time to write songs about the color blue or listen to songs about, “waiting on the world change.”

Music precedes social and societal change and is a driving force in the creation of that change.

What’s one thing music has taught you?

I took a music class fall quarter of my freshman year at UCSD. We learned about & listened to all kinds of whacky experimental music. One of the pieces we studied was Pulse Demon by Merzbow – check it out if you’re interested! A message that really stuck with me was that music precedes social and societal change and is a driving force in the creation of that change. Music is a tool that can be used to make difficult-to-discuss-issues transparent and can galvanize people into advocating & speaking out for what they believe in. Looking at past and present events, almost every shift in our society is accompanied by hugely popular music that is reflective of the times. From The Times They Are A-Changin to This is America, music has been and always will be a universally accessible and powerful tool in the toolbelt of change.

What’s your main takeaway?

Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about what or who you love. Whether you’re into art, writing blog posts, or packaging pastries, you’re you because you love those things. Don’t be afraid to play the music or the podcast that you love when you’re in charge of the AUX cord in a friend’s car. As they say, “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” For me, music is what helped me get into the right headspace such that I could move forward, but the key ingredient is different for everyone. Your mental health is just as important as everything else on your agenda, and taking time every day to cultivate wellness is imperative to a happy and healthy lifestyle. Trust me, I know how stressful and time-intensive the world can seem, but no matter how busy your life gets, carve out time to do what you love or to spend time with the people that you love. Do what you believe in and what makes you happy, ’cause you’re gonna be stuck with you longer than anyone else.

Your mental health is just as important as everything else on your agenda, and taking time every day to cultivate wellness is imperative to a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Final thoughts?

The world is too small and time is too short to worry about doing what you think is best for other people. To clarify, I’m not saying to not help other people and only focus on yourself – I’m saying that it isn’t selfish to take time to take care of yourself, and that it’s OK to see yourself as a priority. I hope you take time to indulge in your ‘music,’ whatever that may be, and that you enjoy each and every moment of it. Music is a way in which I hope to change the world for the better, like many before me have. I hope that whatever your ‘music’ is, you can utilize it to better your world and the worlds of others.

Over the years I’ve become a much more open person and have found something I love just as much as music: conversations with people about who they love and what they love to do – and that is a magical thing.

Author Max Gruber, 2020-21 Co-Lead of Acacia La Jolla’s Mental Health Advocate Team

Composed by Danielle Sharkey, Acacia Marketing

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