6 Lessons I've Learned From Taylor Swift

6 Lessons I've Learned From Taylor Swift

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.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Abby Graf

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"
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I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.


We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Quotes That Will Remind You What Life Is Really About

“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”
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Sometimes you just need a reminder that everything happens for a reason, and the struggles you are going through now are only temporary. We are all human and we all belong. We aren't perfect, we make mistakes, but that's all a part of being alive. Here are some quotes in case you forget:

1. In case you forget that we are in a nation founded by immigrants

“Maybe you weren’t born here, but you found this empty shell and you made it your home”

-Avatar Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

“I am human, so nothing human is foreign to me”

- Terence

2. Failure only brings you closer to perfection

“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all in which case, you fail by default.”

-J.K. Rowling

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried.”

-Stephen McCranie

“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same."

-Colin R. Davis

3. For all the writers out there, keep writing

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

-Ernest Hemingway

“We see with the eyes, but we see with the brain as well, and seeing with the brain is often called imagination.”

-Oliver Sacks

4. The future isn’t everything. Don’t forget to enjoy today

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

-J.K Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

5. Remember… don’t be petty

“There are many who pretend to despise and belittle, that which is beyond their reach.”

-Aesop

6. Our faults are what make us unique

“We are more than the parts that form us.”

-Patrick Rothfuss

"You can be wild and still be very wise."

-Yoko Ono

7. Keep an open mind

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

-Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird)

8. Remember to be kind

"Where there is kindness, there is goodness, and where there is goodness, there is magic."

-Fairy Godmother (Cinderella)

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

-Dalai Lama

9. Be the change you want to see in the world

“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”

-Maya Angelou

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch without doing anything.”

-Albert Einstein

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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