In my adolescent eyes, Taylor Swift was a real-life princess. The baby curls that fell past her shoulders were like ribbons of gold, and her guitar was a magical relic used to conjure up sounds of wonder. Yet, when her raw voice filled the speakers and her naive fantasies about love and life reached me, I felt that she was not a fairytale creature, but really just a young girl who was trying to find "a place in the world," just like me.
At eight years old, I danced around my room belting her song "Love Story" through a mouth full of rainbow braces.
In the same year, I made a ridiculous video to "You Belong With Me" where I acted out her entire music video in a way only a child could. Click here to see it. I can't get it off the internet, and trust me, I've tried.
I dramatically auditioned for my elementary school talent show with "Teardrops On My Guitar," much to my mom's embarrassment.
On my first day of high school, I listened to her song "Fifteen" and played it in my mind as I walked through the doors.
I screamed the words to "Dear John" while crying when the first guy I thought I loved broke up with me, in an ironically similar situation to Swift and the man the song was about (Hint..it was John Mayer. Hint #2...my guy wasn't John Mayer. Sigh.)
I felt like she was there for every one of my life phases. As she matured, I was maturing too. We both began to shift away from fairytales and butterflies to real, complex emotional situations and life struggles. Together, we moved from tales of Romeo and Juliet to harsh life realities and the beauty tangled up in them. Each one of her albums marks a different point in my life.
For me, Red was really her turning point into something new. She shedded her pretty princess persona, but I liked it because I was shedding mine too.
So many of those songs got me through so many breakups. Whether it was the exciting feeling of starting a relationship, the unraveling of love, and the aftermath of heartbreak, she had a song for it. I felt vindicated in my feelings, like it wasn't so crazy to mourn the loss of a silly romance or pine for something unattainable.
When Reputation came out, I was in college. This could not have been a better album to accompany my life. The album was all about embracing your darker side and unapologetically doing what you want. Sure, it might have been a little petty, but it was exactly the stage I was at.
Dealing with frat boys and an endless cycle of parties, I really related to the themes in the album. One line in "Delicate" stuck out to me: 'We can't make any promises, now can we babe? But you can make me a drink.' That was definitely my freshman year motto, and I really embraced this attitude along with her.
In between all this, I started caring about the world because I begun to understand it, and I really wanted to make a difference. I was shattered by the 2016 election and fueled with so much passion and fury. I still am. It was a little while after my activism began that Swift decided to break her silence and let her voice be heard. She had become a strong woman with firm beliefs and finally begun to own her power. Her new album Lover touches on politics and feminism, the kind of things I work to be knowledgable on and active about. And now she speaks loudly about injustice, just like I do.
Though I'm not in a place where I've found the one like she is, I love her descent back into fantasy, only with a real, mature perspective and insight. I've realized that you can still be a kid and an adult at the same time, and I've decided that's exactly how I want to live my life. You can be a princess and a social justice warrior.
If you wonder why she is so famous, maybe take a minute to listen to her music and the meaning behind the words. Because the thing that makes good music is having something to say. And for all these years, what she says has directly spoken to me and so many other women out there, too. I used to feel lame liking her because as a young, preppy white girl, it's exactly what you'd expect of me. But I don't care. I love so many things, and I'm proud of those things. As Swift says, you are what you love.