Speak Up, Speak Now

There’s something that’s been weighing a lot heavier on my head and heart recently than I think it needs to, and I think that’s because I’m not talking about it. In a lot of ways, it feels trivial, or like talking about it will paint me as hopeless or victimizing myself, which is not what I want to do.

But I’ve gotta speak up, and speak now: I freaking love Taylor Alison Swift.

This isn’t news to most people. Everyone who knows me knows that. In high school, I was that “Taylor Swift girl.” I had the twitter fan account–in fact, I had two because I couldn’t keep her off my personal (or FB or insta). From the age of 10, I was not embarrassed to do things like write lyrics on my arms and upload photos to Facebook. There was an entire summer that I drew a heart on my foot every single day. I went years wearing my Speak Now bracelet every day, and I really believed Taylor was the best thing that had ever been mine (though of course she has always been shared).

I was quick to defend her, to serve people facts and educate them on her philanthropy. I gave several school presentations on her. I attended the Speak Now and Red tours with my mom while in high school, and had floor seats to 1989, the first show I planned to share with my boyfriend. We ended up being unable to attend, which I talked a bit about in my Rep tour post. It meant so much to me to spend my 21st birthday with her this year, especially with the guy I love–he makes the lyrics make sense in a way they didn’t before, but anyway..

A lot has happened in the last 11 years of looking up to Taylor. Her albums have gotten me through tough experiences and helped me celebrate the best moments of my life. I appreciate who she is as a person and who she is as a songwriter. I’ve gotten to watch her grow as an artist and individual while the art she’s created has affected my own growth. Her writing makes me think and inspires me to work on my own. I’ve gone from that small town girl who wanted to write to studying writing in my favorite city, filling the pages of a notebook with her face on it with my own words while working on cool, professional projects I’m really proud of.

That’s a connection that can’t be broken, and I’m one of the millions of lucky people who get to identify Taylor as a lifelong role model and friend–with or without meeting her.

However, meeting her is an especially huge thing right now, as she’s trying very hard to meet fans she hasn’t before. The process isn’t really explained, but the gist is that Taylor and her team try to find deserving fans based on their social media accounts and how hard they show up for her at her concerts. They get invited to secret events where they finally get to hug her, take a photo, and tell her how much she means to them.

This era has been full of thousands of people shouting their love and subsequently getting to meet her. And though my love for her feels very clear to me, I haven’t shouted it as loudly as I could have in the last several years.

I’ve made heartfelt posts when I was feeling it, but I’ve been quieter on social media. I can cite two reasons for this: the first is because I was afraid of annoying or upsetting others, and the second is because I was trying to allow myself to feel okay in knowing that my love for her was there whether or not I tweeted about it constantly.

I still think the second reason is a big mood. The internet fandom culture has always been bizarre to me, though I used to be a lot more involved/obsessed with being involved. Like real life, it can be so cliquey and based a lot on socioeconomic status and what I’m going to call extrovertedness (I just mean willingness to put yourself/your thoughts out there). Those parts of being a fan don’t come easily to me; I think friendships are hard to create and I can’t fathom being able to buy every single version of an album the minute it comes out. And posting every single Taylor-related thought that occurs to me just feels like too much. These aren’t excuses; I love the community around Taylor and everyone who seems to create content effortlessly. I just didn’t want stanning her to feel like my whole life. But there’s a difference between balancing your love for something and holding it inside.

Which brings me to the first reason–16 year old me should not have been bothered that I lost followers after tweeting with abandon during music award shows or album releases. Nineteen year-old me should’ve been okay with having a discussion with the girls in one of my science labs that were concerned about Taylor and appropriation. Because the biggest thing I can take away from my time of holding back, and maybe not feeling as connected with her, is that it’s okay to criticize the artists we love.

In real long-term relationships, you have discussions about things that bother you and it doesn’t diminish your feelings one bit. You acknowledge that people aren’t perfect. One of my pet peeves about fandoms is that it can seem like the artist can do no wrong, and that isn’t true. Artists are people, too. For example, I wish Taylor would be more outspoken politically, but I know where her heart is (and it just so happens to be the anniversary of her sexual assault trial).

Anyway, I’ve been overthinking my relationship with Taylor because of the current stress on meeting her. Recently, everyone (literally everyone!) I know IRL who also loves her has met her. Met her!! I don’t know the exact details of their experiences, but somehow they’re all shooting their shots and it’s paying off. That’s so beautiful for them, and instead of feeling bitter about that, I want to admit that I think I’ve been too timid to.

That stops today. I love Taylor Alison Swift, and I want everyone who knows me to know that because I want her to know that someday too.