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Growing Up With Taylor Swift: Things I’ve Learned from Each Taylor Swift Album

The first time I ever heard the name Taylor Swift, I was six or seven years old. I was in the back of my best friend’s mom’s minivan. A country song came on the radio, and my best friend’s older sister exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! I love Taylor Swift!” When I asked who that was, everyone in the car looked at me like I committed a crime. (Looking back, I basically had.) I didn’t listen to country music and I had two much older brothers who were more into the punk scene. How was I supposed to know who Taylor Swift was? My best friend and her sister were kind enough to give me a quick backstory on Taylor Swift. They told me the song on the radio, which I immediately loved, was called “Our Song.”

When I got home, I hurried to my TV and went right to On Demand’s Music Choice to see if they had any music videos by Taylor Swift in their library. I found the music video for “Our Song” and maybe watched it about 300 times over the course of two weeks. Ever since then, I have been a Taylor Swift fan. 

Over the years, Taylor Swift has released nine studio albums and is now re-recording her old records. As I impatiently wait for her to release the re-records, I can’t help but think about how I grew up with Taylor Swift. Each of her albums represents not only an important era in Swift’s own life, but also taught me something about growing up as well.

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Taylor Swift

To be honest, I didn’t learn much about growing up from this record specifically. I was six years old when this came out. The only thing this record taught me was that maybe I did like country music.

Fearless

Growing up I was very much a tomboy. When Fearless was released, I used it as the outlet for my feminine side, which was a side of myself I was unfamiliar with. The record taught me that it was okay for me to embrace my femininity.

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Speak Now

Any fan knows that Speak Now is an important album in Swift’s discography. Critics speculated that Swift didn’t write her own music. Her rebuttal? Creating her third studio album without the help of any co-writers. This record taught me about proving yourself despite other's attempts to doubt your abilities and worth.

Red

Red taught me all about relationships. The record taught me that you are going to meet people in your life that will change everything for you. They can give you more happiness than you ever thought possible, but they can also hurt you in ways you’ve never felt before either. Red taught me the importance of taking something for what it is and knowing when to let go.

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1989

Ah, 1989. This record has a special place in my heart. 1989 taught me about self discovery, independence and self-love.

Reputation

I’ll admit I was not the biggest fan of Reputation during its initial release in 2017. However, the album has grown on me and I really appreciate it now. While 1989 taught me about self discovery, Reputation was the test of that self discovery. The record taught me about embracing who you are and stepping out of your comfort zone, even when the world is against you. (Figuratively in my case, literally in Swift’s case.)

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Lover

Lover taught me something similar to Fearless. Lover reassured me, once again, that it was okay for me to like things that were traditionally feminine; that I shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed to like things that have an audience where the majority is female. This was a big step in releasing some internalized misogyny. 

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folklore & evermore

folklore and evermore taught me the importance of creativity and imagination in my life, especially during the pandemic. Both of these records gave me a burst of creative energy to write while we were quarantined when I was feeling stuck.

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Bonus: Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is fearless in that Swift bravely claimed what belonged to her. This re-release taught me to take ownership over my life and that I am in control of my happiness and success. 

Growing up is scary; but there is something about seeing Taylor Swift grow up and become the powerful, confident, and independent woman that she is that makes it seem a little less scary!

Victoria Dodd

U Mass Amherst '22

Victoria is a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a major in communication. When she's not writing, you can find her listening to music, watching too many movies, or meditating. Victoria has a wide range of interests such as pop culture, film, music, history, politics, and health and wellness. You can follow her on instagram @flicksfromvic or @vic_dodd.
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