Taylor Swift: a singer, a song-writer, an entrepreneur, a country star turned pop superstar, an influencer, a friend. She's something to many, full of words of wisdom, wit, and love. We all cling to different opinions on the ever-evolving 27-year-old woman who struck the world 11 years back with her first single "Tim McGraw." Her 11 year and counting run has been nothing short of adventurous and very influential.
Now, at the top of her career with her forthcoming album, reputation, to drop November 10th, Swift lives her life in a brisk, inviting fans to her house to hear the unreleased record, showing up to fans houses unannounced just to hangout, sneaking onto fans livestreams, filming stellar and very expensive music videos, loving life with her beau, Joe Alwyn, and simultaneously living carefree – embracing the vile, cynical reputation the media has so lovingly appointed her and not giving a damn about what they have to say.
We only have a mere 25 days until Taylor Swift season arrives and we're definitely in for the long haul, full of everything Swift, per say, about, the next one and a half to two years. She'll be dropping her new app, The Swift Life™ in late 2017, and according to tickets.taylorswift.com, we're in for a tour presumably starting next year. And let me tell you – bring it on. I'm ready, you're ready, the media has already checked off their spot in line at number one (though we'll all be fighting them for it), we're all...ready for it (get it?).
In honor of Swift's sixth studio album and TS season rapidly approaching us, here are six things I've learned from her after spending 11 years of my life watching her grow and growing along with her.
1. Find the joys in life and hold onto them for dear life.
It's not everyday we come across someone or something that we want to keep in our lives forever or that we want to cherish for eternity. Whether it's the memories we make with people, with ourselves, or the experiences we face, if they fill us with joy, remember them and hold onto them. We spend too much of our lives wishing for something to happen, or waiting on something to go a certain way that we get too far ahead of ourselves. Swift taught me this lesson because she does the same – she surrounds herself with the people that make her happy, and she does what she loves. She emits joy to everyone. Happiness is one value in life to never take for granted and to hold on to until it's too late to let go.
2. Change is 100% okay, but stay true to who you are.
Taking it from Taylor herself, one who re-brands her image for every new album and changes her perspective on life continuously, change is okay. It's a tough one to face, but take the risk. If you want something, make it happen. I remember from an interview during the 1989 era, Swift talked about the process of wanting to move to New York and how she thought about it for a while and then one day, she just decided to do it without looking back. Change is important in the growing process and it's one thing that'll unceasingly resurface. We have to learn to appreciate it because in moments when life is changing, we may not realize it then until it finally occurs. It's one of the most influential processes one holds of their character throughout their lifetime. Though altering your course is hard to overcome, don't stray too far from it. If you hate the thought of change, just know it'll always be there. And if you're constantly changing, don't change too much to the point where you don't even recognize yourself any longer. Stay true to yourself and meet in the middle. We change as we grow, it's in our nature and it's far too adamant to jump its void.
3. Life moves on, even if it feels like it won't.
I can't imagine what it's like being Taylor Swift, though I have a pretty good judgement that sometimes, being Taylor Swift, makes you wish you weren't Taylor Swift. With her name constantly in the eye of the media and every move she makes being watched and documented, it probably feels a little bit like being stuck in a never-ending cycle of when is this going to end. We all have those moments, those phases in life, when it feels like it's just it, that we're stuck in that certain moment in time for eternity and we can't grasp the bar tight enough to hang on. I'm not talking life is ending, life is over type of situations, I'm talking about the months after the loss of a loved one, the days after a good friend moves away, the weeks proceeding a harsh breakup, or the days that seriously just don't want go your way. We move past them with time, but in that instant, it sometimes feels like we may never advance from them. Swift has written song after song about facing situations like this, and has proved that life eventually does move on and whatever drought your facing, eventually it'll pour and wash you clean. I've learned from Swift to be an optimistic and to get through whatever it is I'm facing to reach my holy ground.
4. Make a statement.
Who are you and what defines you? Trademark yourself, not literally, but what is your brand? Often times, we find ourselves either stuck in the simplicity of life or the mistakes that we encounter, losing who we are in the process. Swift is constantly making her statement in a positive way. She reaches out to people, she is selfless and puts others wants and needs before hers. She influences others to do good and motivates people to become better versions of themselves. She writes for people to relate to what she has to say, not for them to drag her down. She's a doer and she's a woman of action, but she does it all with a heart full of gold. She's taught me to make my statement and to do it with pride without letting others tear it away from me.
5. Listen to yourself and do what's best for you.
In the making of 1989, Swift was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2015 Grammy Awards for her fourth studio album, Red. Red, labelled country and universally agreed on that the song-writing was indeed great, but the personality was a little all over the place (according to Swift), ended up losing the award to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories. She stated in a session at the Grammy Museum that after losing, she reflected a lot on what she had already made for the next album. "We don't make music so we can win a lot of awards, but you have to take your queues from somewhere ... you can say 'Maybe they're right. Maybe I didn't make the record of my career. Maybe I need to fix the problem, which was that I have not been making sonically cohesive albums.' I needed to really think about whether I'm listening to the record label and what that's doing to the art I'm making. And so I went to bed and woke up at four in the morning and was like 'It's called 1989, I've been making '80s synth-pop and I'm just going to do that, I'm calling it a pop record, I am not listening to anyone at my record label, I'm starting tomorrow.' And so that's what I did." 1989 proved to be peak of her career, topping charts and breaking hundreds of records. Swift did just what she's taught me over the years, to do what's in your best interest. She listened to herself, and it paid off. I ferociously keep this in mind when making decisions. Sometimes we need to do what's best for us in order to succeed, rather than listening to someone else and falling flat miserably.
6. It's okay to feel a certain way about a situation and it's okay to speak out about it – especially as a woman in today's society.
If you don't like something that someone says about you, is doing, or does to you, it's okay to have feelings over it and it's okay to speak out. As a woman in today's society, we are expected to genetically engineer ourselves to ignore the issues. Whether it's sexual assault, a breakup, a fall-out with a friend, a disagreement, or pretty much anything else that coincides feelings, we're reckoned to brush it off nonchalantly as if it never happened. Swift writes love songs, but so do many other artists, so why is she always being called out for it? She's constantly in the media for being boy-crazy or writing yet another love song but isn't she just feeling a certain way about a situation, as we all do? And you bet the minute she dropped "Look What You Made Me Do," a song written for anyone who has ever stood in her way or shed a negative light on her, the media had thrown that into the pessimistic bargain of Swift having a feeling about any situation whatsoever. I mean, come on, the woman sued a man for one dollar for sexually assaulting her, just to prove her point that it is indeed okay to feel a certain way about a situation in today's society and speak out about it, standing behind your beliefs. I can't begin to explain the woman empowerment that she has taught me to match. I write, as does Swift. For a while, I struggled with not wanting people to read my work, afraid of what they'd think, in fear of publishing it, because I'm a young woman in an industry dominated by lethal opinions. But I did it anyway, as did Swift. I still do it anyway, as does Swift. She has taught me to embrace the feelings I encounter and to express them with dignity, as hard as that may be.
Swift is a woman of her word, and has, in so many other ways, impacted my life and influenced me in such a positive light that it's hard, in my opinion, to find anything negative to say about her. Because she's a woman incessantly in discussion, we've all created our own opinions of her. But as someone who has not only watched her grow as a woman, but as an artist in a demanding industry, an accomplisher in many outlets and so much more, I uphold nothing but respect for her and will continue to grow along with her, as I have for the past 11 years.