Taylor Swift released her newest single "The Archer" yesterday and, let me tell you, it's had me in my feelings. I felt her emotion in my core as she sang the words my own mind hadn't been able to conjure, expressing that heavy feeling in my chest that had come and gone over the last few months in the aftermath of losing a best friend. In listening to the song on repeat, I came to the realization that, in a figurative way, Taylor Swift had become the friend I really needed in such an oddly hard time.
Now there's a phrase I never believed I would write, especially so close to 30, but here we are, and I'm not at all embarrassed about it (though 2006-emo-me may be shocked). I'm by no means discounting my actual friends, who have all been there for me and are amazing. At a certain point, you just feel the need to shut up with your friends; you have to stop repeating the same situation that you should be over by now, especially in a situation like mine where I know it was for the better. but when you can listen to a song on repeat that feels the same way you do, it's its own sort of release.
But why Taylor Swift, you may ask? I have a pretty eclectic catalog of music, so the fact that I've focused on just this one artist may be odd. Well, for starters, I'm sure the fact that she's just a year older than me allows me to relate to her on that basic human level, but I think the rest of it makes sense once we look into my own personal history listening to her music and its involvement in this loss.
While Taylor Swift has been on the music scene since I was in high school, I was drawn to her music in 2014, when my oldest daughter (3 at the time) became obsessed with "Shake It Off." Watching the music videos from the 1989 album on YouTube was a wonderful bonding experience for me and my two daughters during what was honestly a pretty emotionally difficult time for me.
From there, I started noticing news of her then upcoming reputation album from a few friends who loved her and her music. I unintentionally kept up with the information and, when the music dropped, I was hooked. I instantly purchased the album and had no regrets listening to the whole thing on repeat for days and days.
Like 1989, reputation was another fun way to bond with my children. When I saw the rep tour was coming to my city, I knew I wanted to take my girls, but I also knew I didn't want to go alone. Through a Facebook status, I found out one of my close friends was also a huge fan. We somehow didn't know that about each other, and it was something that brought us closer, to the point that we often got caught up listening to song after song when I really should've been going home (like for my date night with my husband while she watched my children.)
We decided we'd take our daughters to the rep tour show together. It was a huge deal to us. So much so that we even made a song and music video parody to Taylor's Wildest Dreams to announce it to our kids (believe me, we cared more about that than our kids did. but I digress.)
The concert came and went and, despite our young children breaking down for being out so late past bedtime, it was magical. So much more so than we could have imagined. The kids even agreed, despite the sleep deprivation. We couldn't wait for whenever her next album would come so we could attend her next tour the same way.
But things don't always work out that way. Without going into too many details so as to not appear to be bashing this woman (truly not my intentions), that friendship completely exploded in my face. It was unexpected, and rough, though ultimately, I believe, necessary. She handled some things that were happening in her life in a way that made me extremely uncomfortable, and she felt the need to ghost me because of it.
In addition to the obvious stress of that situation, a silly fear set in. I was afraid I'd lose my love of Taylor Swift's music. I have a tendency to dissociate from ended chapters in my life and I was terrified that this part of me would be a casualty from that. In that fear, I reminded myself that her music was mine and my kids' thing long before she entered the picture. So I made myself listen to her music. Jamming to the darker songs found on reputation was actually a great catharsis for me in this period. And, so, the love stayed.
It wasn't just about the actual music, though. It was the (semi-) parallels in the situation I was in to what inspired the reputation era. As most of you all probably already know, Taylor Swift became the subject of a very public feud with some other celebrities and dropped out of the public eye in the aftershock of it. She focused on her private life, not retaliating as her reputation was dragged through the mud, and grew because of it. I knew that I needed to do the same in my life.
But that was hard, because in the loss of this friendship, I knew that on some level, I would become a villain in her story. It killed me that she controlled the narrative, and not knowing what she may be saying about me was a real struggle for a while (sometimes still is, if I'm being completely honest). Remembering to grow was difficult as I found myself physically ill from anxiety before a meeting with my church leaders over the situation (I was her small group leader, and she requested to leave our group, so the ghosting had to be addressed with them). After that meeting, it dawned on me, though, that it didn't matter anymore. Anyone who truly cared about me knew the whole story, not just the one side, and anyone else? Who cares? Let her say what she needs to say to make herself feel better. As Taylor so fittingly sang, "they're burning all the witches, even if you aren't one...so light me up." And I could grow in the aftershock. And then, I took Taylor's (still cryptic at the time of writing this) advice to "step into the daylight and let it go," removing her from social media she forgot to block me on.
Even in knowing you've made the right choice, though, you can't help but look back at every other failed friendship and think that maybe the problem is you. No matter how much you've grown since each ending, both in physical age and in what you hope is maturity, it just happens all over again. And, I'm sure you can guess at this point, enter: Taylor Swift.
"The Archer" perfectly encapsulated that notion to me. It was as though she knew exactly how I was feeling: having so much you want to say, but knowing it's pointless at best and mean at worst; the almost self-loathing that you've found yourself in exactly the same high-school-drama-filled scenario and you're almost 29, not 15; the anxiety that keeps you up thinking you'll always end up like this; knowing your worth in one breath and questioning how anyone sticks around you the next; and finally, the hope that someone actually could stay. I needed to hear that song.
I know it may sound weird to say a celebrity you'll likely never meet was a friend for you in your time of need, but I believe maybe some other people can relate. Her music, and the parts of her story she's been vulnerable enough to share with the world, have a way of being there for you when you feel completely alone, even if you aren't.
This song came out at the perfect time for me. It's allowed me to feel emotions I feel I should be over by now. And I seriously can't thank Taylor Swift enough for being here for me through this, both through "The Archer" and other songs.
And, for the record, if you haven't already read her article "30 things I learned before turning 30", you NEED to read it. Wonderful advice!
Hello! I'm Lindsey. I'm a writer with a ton of random thoughts bouncing around in my head. So I share them here in hopes that they reach others with these thoughts.