Last Friday, Taylor Swift released the re-recoreded version of her album Red. Although the bulk of the album contains songs we’ve been blasting in our cars for years, Taylor did treat us to a handful of new songs from her “vault.” Her new “vault” songs are all impressive, but one touched me in particular–Nothing New featuring Phoebe Bridgers.
This Taylor-Phoebe mash-up is too relatable for its own good. The song perfectly encapsulates the feelings of dread and confusion that accompany growing up. A true coming of age song, Nothing New, describes a specific shift in every young adult’s life. This “shift” is the moment when we all inevitably realize that we have no idea what we’re doing. Taylor sings “how can a person know everything at eighteen, but nothin’ at twenty-two?” Taylor touches on a nuanced notion that I myself have never quite been able to put into words. When we’re seventeen, eighteen, even nineteen, we think we have it all figured out; we think we know how the world works and what the future holds. We believe we’re grown up, mature even. However, in reality, our late teenage years are filled with innocence and naivety that protect us from the real world. Sadly, just a handful of years later, our rose-colored glasses fall off–leaving us in the stark light of adulthood. Taylor’s right; at twenty-two, we realize that our grasp on the world around us is not so firm. As someone who’s a month away from turning 21, I find Taylor and Phoebe’s expert lyricism hitting a little too close to home. I certainly don’t have a well-thought-out plan for the rest of my life, and I definitely don’t have the astute understanding of the world around me that I thought I did when I was eighteen. In reality, I can barely manage to keep my apartment clean and turn my assignments in on time.
I suppose the most difficult truth to accept from Nothing New is that we can never get our years of ignorant bliss back. In the song, Phoebe Bridgers asks “how did I go from growin’ up to breakin’ down?” The question itself is simple, but the meaning behind it is powerful. The process of growing up is fun, liberating, and even whimsical at times. But what happens when the process is over, and we’ve actually grown up? I suppose that’s the hard part.
Ultimately, this song made me ponder the passage of time (maybe a little too intensely). Even though Nothing New has me longing for simpler times, the song also comforts me. Taylor and Phoebe reassure the rest of their listeners and me that the fear and nervousness that surround adulthood are shared. No one is alone in feeling lost at the beginning of their adult life. Yes, being a “grown-up” is challenging, but at least, the challenge is universal. So go listen to Nothing New. You might shed a tear, but you’ll also find solace in the fact that we all have no idea what the hell we’re doing.