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You’re Calling Me Basic? A Reflection

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Who’s your favorite artist?

It’s a common question, one that we’re asked all the time. And with someone’s favorite artist seeming to reveal some deep insight into their personality, this isn’t just a casual getting-to-know-you question. Between Billie Eilish (too mainstream to be edgy?) or One Direction (stuck in middle school?), the assumption is that you must be cautious with the persona you portray with your answer. 

My favorite artist is Taylor Swift. Others have challenged this position, and their relative obscurity serves as a confidence booster in my belief in my ability to find undiscovered music. But, if I could pick only a single song to have blaring on repeat, anything from Swift’s discography would be my go-to. 

Yet whenever I’m asked the question, there’s always a moment of hesitation before I answer. I dread the fact that if I answer, “Taylor Swift”, the person will almost definitely think, or even say, “Ehhh. That’s just so…basic.”

As we navigate this world of trying to stand out (but not too much), is there any bigger blow to feeling accepted? Here’s a thought for you. Basic people call other people basic. Not in that roll-your-eyes, they’re-just-jealous-of-you type of way. No. Basic people call other people basic because they don’t stop to think, or more importantly, ask why.

If you ask me why I love Taylor Swift, I’d tell you about getting ready for my first day of high school with Fifteen playing in the background. The lyrics, You take a deep breath / And you walk through the doors / It’s the morning of your very first day gave voice to my very-present anxiety. 

Or I’d tell you about the release of the ten minute version of All Too Well and how my roommates and I sprawled out on our living room floor, belting out the lyrics  like our hearts depended on it (they did). I’d tell you about my fear of finding myself stuck in a career and then being forced to roll with it for literally the rest of my life. I find inspiration in Taylor Swift’s willingness to step outside country music – at the risk of losing her fanbase, and in turn her entire career, to experiment with other music genres. Also, I just love her music, and that’s enough of an explanation, too. 

Because in truth, you’re only basic if basic is how you choose to view other people. Rather than asking questions and digging deeper into who people are, you assume things about them based on their likes and dislikes. 

Stop hiding what you love, because it’s an important part of you, whether it’s considered basic, too different, or just-cool-enough. If people listen to you talk about what you love and automatically think AH! She’s basic! or AH! She’s cool!…in all honesty, look elsewhere. You deserve to surround yourself with people who are interested in you – the real you, beneath your likes, dislikes and interests, both mainstream and obscure. The people that matter will want to know and appreciate the real stories of who you are.  This is the circle you deserve, the circle of support you should seek, and yes, it really is as basic as this. 

Hi, I'm Julia! I am a senior at UW-Madison, double majoring in International Studies & Legal Studies with a certificate in Chicanx & Latinx Studies. I love to travel and hope to teach or work at a nonprofit abroad someday.