I love Taylor Swift’s new song ‘Shake It Off.’ Because the way I see her new song, it’s much more than the weird, sometime inappropriate, video. Now, disclaimer: I don’t like the butt-shaking in her video. I think objectifying dance moves have no place in….well, anything. But her song has been making waves in the world and I think it speaks a little louder (and a little better) than her poor choice in moves. The major criticism I have heard is that it doesn’t stay true to that sweet ideal everyone has of Taylor Swift. Everyone is heralding the next Miley Cyrus episode and it’s starring you, Taylor. But I don’t see it that way-I see this song as a window into the reality of growing older and actually, dare I say, liking it.
Taylor has evolved so much from her first days of getting water all over her acoustics. I never was a Taylor Swift ‘fan’ but certain songs of hers have definitively been played on repeat by me…possibly for days. And today, as I listened to a playlist of her old songs at work (put your judging face away), I realized that I am a lot like Taylor Swift and maybe that is why I love her new song so much.
Wait, what? Kathryn, you don’t even like her!
But I have learned, In my twenty-two years of existence, that those people who are very similar to me I either love or I heartily dislike. This is because I see my great qualities in one and all of my imperfections in the other. In Taylor, I see that starry-eyed, naive side of me that reveled in a crush, that fell hard and fell fast. I tended to jump from crush to crush and was literally ‘crushed’ every time. I never wrote songs or had my dating life plastered all over the world, but I was like the Taylor Swift of the crush world. I hated it and I don’t think Taylor liked her dating troubles either. But, she made a lot of money off of them, and I have earned a lot of experience off of my own escapades. And, from the lack of young men in Taylor’s public life as of late, maybe she has learned as well.
The fact is, I am grateful for those times now because they are, number one, done and, number two, I grew from them. I don’t give my heart away anymore. I try and do meaningful things with my life, rather than thinking about the boy I like or when will my Prince Charming come (I still hope and want him to come, but I want him to find a woman when he gets here on his horse, not an immature girl). I am glad to have left that part of my life behind. I am happier and I am different. I have grown more into my own person and I am striving to continue to grow, even if growing means growing apart from friends or hobbies I once loved, or painfully ending habits that only brought me down.
That’s what I see in Taylor’s new song-she sees past faults (or perceived past faults-like dating kamikaze), she sees she has moved on, and she owns it by shaking off all the haters. She doesn’t want to be that Bambi-innocent, cowgirl anymore. And I respect that. I don’t want to be the person I was freshmen year of college anymore either. Those people who stay in the past, who dredge up past mistakes: you don’t need that, I don’t need that, Taylor doesn’t need it. If she wants to change her vibe, so be it. If I change my mind on what I want to do with my life, so be it. As one if my favorite quotes says, ‘Love and then do what you want.’ That’s the most important part of life: love. Good love: the type that calls you out, holds you up, doesn’t quit, and isn’t just a feeling. The type of love that gives all and has no fear of holding back. That love should be held onto as life goes on, rather than the bad haircut you had in first grade or your self-confidence issues from the past. And as long as you are living and living what you do, other people’s opinions and your past cannot stop you.
I hope Taylor continues to mature, that she isn’t afraid of being herself and embracing who she is at each stage of her life. I hope the same for myself as well-and for all of you. So, don’t be afraid of growing up, of changing, of leaving parts of you behind: just shake it off.