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  • Writer's pictureLogan Rose

What It's Like to Grow Up with Taylor Swift

So many of us were fortunate enough to come of age with the marvelous Taylor Swift.


To celebrate the release of her 10th studio album, Midnights, and her upcoming Eras tour, here is my story:


How I Became a Swiftie

I first heard of Taylor Swift when my freshman-year math teacher, Mr. Waters, moved into a new apartment and found the self-titled Taylor Swift album inside.


He asked if anyone wanted it, and my bold, beautiful best friend, Seva, volunteered.


I remember listening to the album in her bedroom, putting Our Song on in the car, and our young, teenage hearts connecting deeply to Teardrops On My Guitar.


Later, I remember Seva playing Forever & Always on the piano. Seva has an exceptionally beautiful voice and is one of the most musically talented people I have ever met.


One night, we had our cool older friend, Jade, over, and together in Seva's music room, we belted out every track on Fearless and went out to loiter downtown.


We really did feel Fearless.



(Photo from Lawrence Journal-World)





The Album that Made Me a Swiftie


I think Fearless is when I really became a Taylor Swift fan. That album was the perfect soundtrack to my dumb, dramatic teenage dating life.


I remember crying to the break-up songs, feeling oh-so empowered by White Horse (my favorite song on the album) and reading the Fearless album insert:

"To me, 'FEARLESS' is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, FEARLESS is having fears. FEARLESS is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, FEARLESS is living in spite of those things that scare you to death." - Taylor Swift

Bravery is a big part of how I define myself, and Taylor Swift's definition of fearless is a big part of how I define bravery.


At 18, Taylor Swift had such big realizations about fear and courage, and today, I'm still grappling with those concepts (and so is she, from what I can gather).


I think fear is one of the most powerful forces we deal with as humans. Sometimes, I think it's more powerful than love.


Needless to say, Fearless spoke to me deeply. I also think it's meaningful that Fearless is the first album grown-up Taylor chose to re-record.


It was her coming of age; it was our coming of age, and one thing we can always admire about Taylor is her ability to honor every stage of growth.


When you're young, it doesn't feel silly to get your heart broken by an idiot teenage boy. Everyone else seems to brush off your feelings, but Taylor never did.


Speak Now

As me and my relationships started to mature, so did Taylor Swift's music.


Speak Now is a fabulously dramatic album that was very fun to rock out to when my crushes disappointed me, but Mine presented a grown-up way of looking at relationships, and Never Grow Up reminded me that growing up is exactly what we were doing.


Back to December also dealt with the fact that you, too, can break other people's hearts.


Speak Now came out during my sophomore year of high school, which was the first time I realized I could hurt others, romantically, the same way they hurt me.


It wasn't intentional, the hurting. I just truly didn't realize I had that capability before.


Still, it was a while before I learned to take relationships seriously and foster other people's feelings the way that I do now, so songs like Speak Now itself were welcome.


Red

"Taylor Swift's a grown-up now, and so am I," Red seemed to scream.


Now, Taylor Swift was falling into real, red love, and we were, too. Red came out around the time I lost my virginity, and Taylor was rumored to have lost hers to Jake Gyllenhaal.


Interestingly enough, Red was also Taylor's foray into the mainstream, and the singles from that album really shaped that era of my life.

Red came with me to college, where I celebrated my 22nd birthday screaming the lyrics of 22 with all my friends.



I listened to I Knew You Were Trouble when the boy who everyone told me would break my heart did exactly that. (He also gave me mono, but that's another story).


I gave that boy so many chances I ended up singing We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, too.


1989

1989 came out while I was in college, and I felt very grown up indeed.


Ironically, I ended up seeing Taylor Swift on her 1989 tour with my college boyfriend, Austin -- and his parents. So, maybe we weren't quite grown up yet.


Nevertheless, this album helped me sort out my tangled mess of emotions about leaving home, breaking up with my high school boyfriend, and all my 'situationships' before I started dating Austin.


I loved this album, and the 1989 era was the first time I really fell for Taylor Swift as an artist and person.


Taylor's 2014 Rolling Stone cover story was absolutely incredible, and I truly think she's one of the most genuine, down-to-earth and inspiring women working today.


I remember reading that article and having it blow my mind.


She looked like a real-live Disney princess on stage, but she's really just a person; an ordinary person with an extraordinary life.


Reputation

To be honest, I didn't love Reputation when I first listened to it, but at this point, I loved Taylor Swift so much it hardly mattered.


I knew the Kanye West version of events could not be true, and I knew that the media coverage of Taylor Swift was -- and always had been -- deeply unfair. The way people turned on her was really startling, and I could see why she would want to do something different with her music.


After a few listens, I started to admire the way Taylor Swift leaned into the fact that she was always being villainized and appreciate how much fun she had with her album.


At the end of the day, I also had a lot of fun with the album. My friend, Rebecca, and I bonded over it, and I saw the Reputation tour with my aunt and little cousin.

I remember watching Taylor on stage and thinking, "she belongs there." It's such a pleasure to observe someone doing exactly what they were put on earth to do.


The whole experience of the Reputation album also made me look up to Swift as an artist -- even more than I did already. Who else would take such a big creative risk at such a challenging moment in their career?


Of course, Taylor wasn't only taking professional risks. The Reputation era is also the very beginning of Taylor's relationship with her longtime boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. Songs like Delicate are the best on the album, and I still love them today.



Gorgeous, for example, is the lusty feminine anthem every 20-something needs when they meet someone hot they'd like to get to know better.


More than anything, I felt like knew what it felt like to have your whole life fall apart (post-college was rough, man), and all the chaos might come to something beautiful for me, too.



Lover

One thing I love about music is that you can always apply it to whatever you're going through when you listen to it.


I think of my current lover of three years, Sam, when I think of Lover, but it came out about a year before I met him.


I cannot only remember dancing to the song Lover with some fling from my past but also jamming to London Boy with my very own boyfriend, who just so happens to be from London, as well.


Lover has a bunch of wonderful songs about falling in love and being in love, but there's also some very mature songs about staying in love, like Afterglow.


Lover is the perfect album for coming into yourself and falling in love, and I'm so glad Taylor and I got to do that together.


Folklore

Folklore, of course, came out during the pandemic, when we all wanted to run away and disappear the woods.

Many of the songs were stories, which was some welcome escapism, but the song, 'the 1,' helped me come to terms with all those relationships that didn't quite work out, and 'epiphany' was the perfect song for the grief and loss of COVID.


Further, 'invisible string' and 'peace' are some of the most romantic songs imaginable, and they really helped me settle into my new relationship.


Sam and I listened to Folklore together on a road trip early on in our relationship, which is a memory that has become really special for me. I think he's a Taylor Swift fan now, too.


His favorite song on the album ended up being the bonus track, 'the lakes.' We still listen to it together. The most recent time was while we were driving to Walden Pond.



Evermore

2021 ended up being a hard year for me, personally, and Evermore really was like a warm 'cardigan' during that time.


Also, 'champagne problems' is an absolute jam, and I've listened to 'happiness' about a thousand times.


Taylor also put out 'Renegade' with Big Red Machine around this time, and let's just say the songs I've mentioned so far, and 'tolerate it,' were my jam as I learned how to navigate sharing my life with another person, set boundaries for myself, and negotiate the kind of relationship I wanted to be in and the kind of life I wanted to have - forevermore.


(You can dip out of my blog if you want to now; I understand that pun was bad).


Midnights

Taylor Swift and I started out as teenagers, and now we are women. And what do women deal with? If you yelled out, "self doubt," "shame about things we can't control," and "self loathing," here, have a cookie!


Just kidding, sort of, but how Taylor Swift of her to put out an album like Midnights when she's basking in her hard-earned personal and professional success.


Taylor Swift's willingness to be vulnerable, always, is what keeps us coming back to her.


She may have totally different problems at 32 than I have at 27, but you know what? She still makes an effort to connect through her music. And I really connect to Midnights.


I, too, have felt the pressure to advance my relationship before I was ready (Lavender Haze), settled into a different flavor of intimacy with a long-term partner (Maroon), and thought about my exes (Question...? is one of my favorite songs on the album).


Sweet Nothing is also a beautiful refrain to 'peace,' and Mastermind the loveliest foil to 'invisible string.' Mastermind is also the perfect way to end an album about self-doubt, because it's Taylor accepting herself fully, and Joe accepting her with a knowing smile.


"...words are my only way of making sense of the world and expressing myself." - Taylor Swift via Rolling Stone.

Taylor Swift never loses sight of the music, nor the story she sets out to tell. She has used music to document her life as she grows from a girl to a woman, giving all the girls and women listening something to hold onto.


Listening to Taylor Swift feels like talking shit with an old friend, but more than anything, it feels like coming home and getting a hug from the big sister you were lucky enough to grow up with.

That's what it's like to grow up with Taylor Swift.


"It's me. Hi. I'm the problem, it's me."

But if being a Swiftie is wrong, I don't want to be right!


See you all at the Eras tour ;)

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