I remember 5 years ago on Valentines Day, 2010, the radio played it’s part with a mellow playlist with all the love songs you could name. I recognized Fifteen within 10 seconds the first few strums of the guitar, it was so familiar. As the chorus came in, I noticed I was feeling sorry for myself. I was 16 at the time and was admittedly upset about not having a chance to live the fifteenth year of my life exactly the way Taylor Swift describes it in the song.
Whether it was Love Story or You Belong With Me or even Picture to Burn, each of her songs reeked of the kind of desperate love a 16 year old romantic girl carried around on her sleeve. On most days I danced to her in my room in my boxers exactly the way she did in her You Belong With Me music video, hoping my crush from across the street would steal a glance and be mesmerized by my awkwardness.
And then came the next set of songs. You fall in love for the first time, no harness. Once the love is gone, it’s really just a fall that ends exactly how an actual fall does – painfully. I found comfort in the fact that Taylor Swift was heartbroken as well. There was a sense of familiarity because she so accurately preached about a first love so similar to mine. If she was upset and heartbroken, me being upset and heartbroken seemed like something I could deal with. There was Back to December and Story of Us and Mine that brought up this whole new concept of dysfunctionality that prevails in a relationship heading toward doom.
At this point I have to mention, she was doing the same thing I was – emotionally investing all of herself in a series of boys who could never sustain a love that was deserved. I also have to admit, she made a promiscuous reputation for herself, Taylor Swift became the serial dater for whom just no boy was good enough. I started to deny being a fan. She’s crazy, all the guys she was with couldn’t be fucktards – something had to be wrong with her. In retrospect I can see that this sudden disengagement was because I could relate so much to her that it was almost scary. I had my heartbroken enough number of times by enough number of boys to start to wonder if something was wrong with me itself. If she was crazy, I probably was too. So denial seemed to work just fine.
And then something happened. She grew up. Suddenly there were no more new John Mayers and Harry Styles popping up in the news with her. Taylor Swift did what seemed like some really rewarding introspection and began to prioritize. Now the poster girl for heartbreak gave no importance to love, or more importantly the idea of it. There was 22 and The Last Time and the entire Red album to be honest. She was spotted going to the gym more often than going on a date. The only outrageous expression of love was for her family and close friends. All the overflowing love she had within her was channelized into a kick-ass girl squad – friends she’s made for a lifetime.
You see, this new Taylor Swift did what no one expected her to do. She stopped fueling the paparazzi with retaliation and focused on herself. She made herself her only priority and discovered who she really was. Nude lipstick, long blond curls and frilly dresses is not her. Short straight hair, bright red lipstick and tantalizing crop tops is who she is. And she’s left no stone unturned to prove it. There’s never been anything to gainsay about her in the talent arena. Couple that with the rock star of a person she’s become – you get a role model that could potentially change thousands of lives for the better.
Between Red and 1989, there has been no boy on the scene and what we got as a result is a new definition of Taylor Swift that has absolutely nothing to do with boys. Blank Space, Style and Shake it Off are testimony to the fact that she’s figured her stuff out and that there isn’t going to be anymore trampling over her. She knows what she deserves and will not accept anything short of it. There’s a sense of healing, closure, maturity, discovery and subsequent excitement about all that she can be in the 1989 album.
This morning I read a few articles about her alleged relationship with Calvin Harris. Had this come out two years ago, I would have maybe rolled my eyes and continued to be on the anti-Swift campaign. But instead I was proud. Read the articles online and you’ll know I’m not the only one. No article questions her dating mannerisms or possible craziness anymore. There’s this collective agreement that she knows what she’s doing and the only person that deserves credit for this unimaginable change in media attitude is herself.
So yeah, it goes without saying. Taylor Swift gives me hope and inspires me to discover myself. And yes the fact that I suddenly love red lipstick is slightly ironic in terms of the idea of finding my own individuality. But this is a start and something is always better than nothing.
Maybe I’m reading too much in to a bunch of albums that could really not be any more than just chart-topping inanimate tracks. In a way, her songs are the underestimated band aids that have the potential to cover up and heal the abyss that the bullet holes of 21 years of existence have left on me. And for that, I am truly grateful.