I’ve never met her, but Taylor Swift has been there for me during some of the brightest and darkest days of my life.
(Yes, you read that correctly.)
Her music has shaped some of my most influential moments.
I think every teen girl who has ever heard “Teardrops On My Guitar” blast across her radio can agree that hearing Taylor pour her heart out for the first time over an unrequited love felt like therapy for the soul – at least, for those of us who ever liked a boy in high school who didn’t feel the same way. I remember lying on my bed sophomore year of high school and staring at my ceiling as tears dripped down my cheeks, with “Teardrops On My Guitar” playing on my iPod dock. I might as well have been cradling a guitar in my arms, just like she did in her famous music video.
“White Horse” carried me through the bleak days of feeling inadequate for someone who I knew didn’t deserve me, and who I couldn’t wait to leave behind because “this is a big world, that was a small town, there in my rear view mirror disappearing now.” Taylor’s lyrics reminded me that life isn’t a fairytale, and I can’t wait for a prince to sweep me off my feet (sadly, years later I forgot this advice and settled for the wrong man anyway). But every time I need reminding, I put “White Horse” on and it soothes my heart.
Possibly one of my favorite Taylor Swift tunes ever is “Enchanted” which is, truly, enchanting. Every time I hear this one, I can’t help but smile like a schoolgirl with bashful, pink cheeks and a beaming, hopeful heart. I can still see myself dancing around my childhood bedroom while listening to Taylor sing, my face stretched into a large grin and my heart filled with butterflies. I dare you to listen and not feel the magic that is practically radiating from Taylor’s voice.
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” brings me back to college days and dancing in my dorm and singing along in the car with friends to this hit after I ended a toxic relationship.
Then there’s “Clean” which, to this day, still resonates deeply with me. These words in particular – “Rain came pouring down when I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe. And by morning, gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean” – carried me through my first major breakup, my heart-wrenching divorce, and then even now I listen to it every time I feel hopeless and afraid of experiencing life by myself. Simply put, “Clean” is more than just a break-up song – it’s a reminder that you can always come out stronger on the other end of trauma, and not just survive, but thrive and blossom into an even more beautiful version of who you are meant to be.
I’m thankful that Taylor’s beloved single “Lover” existed for many reasons. The first reason is that it’s a gorgeous and sincere love song. The second reason is because when I told my now ex that I wished our love was more like the kind Taylor sings about in “Lover”, he grimaced and told me, “That is an unrealistic expectation. This song is so fake.” His words stung me with a poison so ghastly, I found myself unable to finish listening to “Lover” for months afterwards. A sadness so overwhelming would creep up within me the moment it started, and I would change the radio the instant it came on. It wasn’t until we had separated for good that I could enjoy the song again, and remembered that asking for a lover to “save my seat at every table” isn’t an unrealistic expectation. I know that someday I will find my true lover, and he will “save all [his] dirtiest jokes for me.”
Then folklore came out, right after I had experienced the loneliest breakup of my life, during a pandemic. It was as if Taylor was singing for me and only me. “cardigan” was the painful remedy I needed while trying to find who I was without him (“You drew stars around my scars, but now I’m bleedin'”). “illicit affairs” reminded me of the man I took up with most recently after my ex, who made me fall for him and led me to believe he wanted something serious, then later claimed ignorance to the pain he’d caused me. And “invisible string” fills me with the faith that I, like Taylor, can find my happy ending with the right person someday.
There are so many songs of Taylor Swift’s that have carried me through tidal waves of emotion, supporting and cradling me to safety. “Tied Together With a Smile” was played on repeat during my awkward, insecure teenage days. When one of my closest, truest friends and I stopped talking in high school, “Breathe” was there to comfort me. In the end days of my last relationship, I listened to “Last Kiss“, because I knew what our fate would soon be and somehow knowing that Taylor Swift could relate to my pain brought me comfort (“So I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep, and I’ll feel you forget me like I used to feel you breathe.”) “Treacherous” reminded me I can’t give my heart and soul away to a man who doesn’t appreciate who I am, no matter how tempting he is. “All Too Well” makes me nostalgic for autumn and for all the loves that could have been, and “Shake It Off” reminds me not to sweat the people who misunderstand and judge me for my imperfections. “Daylight” gives me the strength to stay positive and hold out until I see the light. And finally, “Peace” reminds me that the next time I fall in love – true love – I’ll savor it and keep it to myself, for the best kept secrets are the happiest ones.
“People haven’t always been there for me, but music always has.” – Taylor Swift