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Some people will get it, and some people won’t. To be fair, it’s hard to eloquently put into words how a stranger has changed my life so drastically without sounding at least a little insane. But, then again, Taylor Swift’s music has always felt like advice from a friend. I’m not going to pretend I know her personally, but her masterful songwriting and relatability have never made me feel so seen. With her new album evermore, Taylor is writing about things that I - quite frankly - didn’t even know could be put into words. Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s start from the beginning.

The first song I ever heard from Taylor was “Our Song” (a classic). There’s not much else to say other than it was a complete smash and immediately hooked me. Next thing I know, I’m a third grader standing in a merch line with my mom and sister, waiting to get Fearless tour shirts to commemorate my first ever concert experience. Fearless is Taylor’s second album, with legendary hits like “Love Story” and “Fifteen.” We were in the nosebleed seats of Toyota Center, and I was probably around four feet tall in a sea of adults, but that didn’t stop me from having the time of my life. I remember going to school the next day in my tour shirt with Taylor’s lucky number, 13, written in green on the back of my hand, and I’m telling you: everything was at peace in my little ten-year-old heart. 

Even if my swiftie story had stopped with that concert, she still would have changed my life. Concerts have become a source of happiness over the years. Hearing my favorite artists live, being surrounded by people who know the words to every song, dancing for hours, and ignoring the pain, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s an atmosphere that’s hard to explain but easy to fall into. 

Fast forward a few years and a few albums, I was a junior in high school. Taylor’s sixth album, reputation, came out. Long story short, my sister and I cried because we hated it so much (which is so hilariously ironic to me now, because it’s currently in my holy trinity of Taylor albums). I was never not a fan, but I chose to focus on her older music after that. When senior year rolled around, my IQ must have shot through the roof or something; I finally began to appreciate reputation for what it was: a brilliant album detailing how a woman, who was constantly brought down by men, started to understand and expertly wield her power. 

After graduation, I found myself in a state of anxiety and confusion. I was so excited to attend UT Austin, but so much was changing in my life, and it was overwhelming, to say the least. Lover, Taylor’s seventh studio album, was released on the day of my move-in and became the soundtrack of my freshman year of college. Even now, over a year later, it still feels like I’m walking through campus whenever I listen to this album. Classes were so scary and frustrating, and I was questioning whether I was in the right major (I was not). For the first time in my life, I didn’t know what my plan was, but Taylor’s hopeful lyrics of finding love and peace after tragedy soothed my soul in a way nothing else could. 

When quarantine started, I had a dog, my best friend, Levi. Unfortunately, he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in June. I won’t go into details, but it was extremely traumatizing and broke my heart into a million pieces. It seems Taylor always knows when we need it the most because exactly a month later, she released a surprise album called folklore. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s perhaps my favorite album of all time. I know for a fact that any and everyone who said she could only write breakup songs is punching the air right now. Folklore is revolutionary. The songwriting, the storytelling of characters that she made up in her head, and the hard truths of hope and acceptance behind every song slowly mended me back together. 

On December 10th, Taylor decided to start World War III with the announcement of a second surprise album, a companion work to folkloreevermore. I’m writing this a day after its release, and it’s still early, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that she has done it yet again! She’s completely broken down every barrier in music. She’s described aspects of living that I didn’t think could be written in words. She’s perfectly captured the human experience. 

So there you go, that’s my swiftie origin story. I’m not saying she’s the answer to all of my problems or that she’ll be the answer to yours, but her music has been there for me when I needed it the most. From 2010 to now, Taylor has never failed to provide me with solace, peace, and hope in moments of transition and uncertainty. If by some miracle she comes by this article, I just want to say thank you for helping me and so many others. If you haven’t yet listened to her new or old albums, give them a try and contact me if you ever need someone to talk to about it. If you’ve read all of this, thank you. I’ve wanted to write down these thoughts for a while. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

Hello! I'm currently studying Advertising at the University of Texas at Austin. In my free time, I'm constantly baking, listening to true crime podcasts, and spending time with my family. Connect with me on IG: www.instagram.com/unorachel
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