It’s easy to look at Taylor re-releasing her albums as a complete financial gain, or in another light, as a big middle finger to Scooter Braun. I won’t deny that both of those are probably prominent factors in the decision, time and effort involved in re-releasing all of your albums at this incredible speed. But I can’t help but believe that there’s more to it, that re-releasing these albums has a lot to do with Taylor herself, with the woman she has grown into.
I don’t know if it was initially intended that way, but Taylor’s Version has become about more than just the music, to Taylor and the fans. Who could have ever predicted that not only would the albums do well, but they would be a momentous event that people counted down to, they would dominate social media platforms like Tiktok and Twitter, and they would surpass their originals on the charts? Because Taylor’s version isn’t about changing a bass line, replacing a young voice with a slightly huskier one. Taylor’s Version is about control, ownership, identity and acceptance. Taylor’s Millennial fans are approaching songs they loved as teenagers and realising that they still apply, that the time that passed hasn’t really passed at all.
Taylor’s version is about ownership, not just of songs, but of your entire identity. So let’s learn from Blondie, and become the Taylor’s Version of our own lives.
Photo: "Taylor Swift RED tour" by janabeamerpr is licensed under CC BY 2.0
If there was ever a time to stop caring about what everyone thinks, it is now, it is today. Because the past two years have taught us a lot, such as the joys of an online pub quiz, the usefulness of food delivery apps, and that life is so incredibly short. You don’t realise that until it’s too late in one way or another. So don’t waste a single day more focused on what people might be saying about you or the crap that they’re already saying - because they don’t matter. Because they are reflecting their own insecurities or pain onto you, and you are the one allowing yourself to be weighed down by it. I am not claiming that it will be easy, far from it, but I will promise you that it is worth it.
Taylor got a lot of crap from the media, from fellow celebrities, from listeners across the world. It was considered embarrassing to be a Taylor Swift fan. She was torn down for everything related to being a woman. She discusses it really well in her documentary, Miss Americana, and explains how she was told she takes herself too seriously, and then she dates too much, and then she’s too much with her friends, and then she’s gone. She couldn’t win; no matter what you think of her music, you must be able to recognise that.
The hate tore her down for a long time and seriously affected her mental and physical health. Finally, she came to realise that she couldn’t keep listening to it, that something had to change.
You will never win in the eyes of your critics. The people who write scathing personal comments to you will never be pleased by your actions. You can’t please everyone because everyone wants something different. So don’t waste your time trying, as you’ll only lose yourself in the process.
As difficult as it is, you need to leave the critics to their own games; you need to shake off the haters because they’re a waste of your time, energy and love. Instead, focus on the people who support you, who love you. I get really negative comments on my articles sometimes, ones that have reduced me to tears, and somehow it easily erases the positive responses I get, the emails that thank me for writing about such personal topics.
“'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake”
Taylor stepped out of the limelight for a year, and barely anyone saw her during that time. She couldn’t keep doing it, keep smiling whilst everyone slowly turned on her. She didn’t want to play their game, and so she left it. Some could consider that weakness, but I actually think there is a strength to taking a step back, to recognising your limits and acknowledging them.
You know when you can’t take anymore, so look after yourself and take necessary action. You need to take time to do what you need.
My relationship of four years ended in May (I know, I always bring that up, it’s no wonder I’m such a Swiftie!), and I was left with a total loss of identity. So for the past few months, I’ve been taking things slower; I’ve been embracing time with myself. I go to the cinema on my own, and I savour the walk home in the evening air. I’m trying out different styles, hair colours and more, just to see what feels right now. I’m thankful to have moved to a new city because it feels like something that is all mine, that I don’t have to share with him or anyone else. I am being alone, and it is precisely what I need.
Sometimes we need some time on our own, not just out of a relationship, but out of situationships or even some friendships. Sometimes we need the space to breathe, because this allows us to reset and work out our new route. Taylor did this, and I think it was vital in becoming the artist she is today, one with the courage to re-release her songs and embrace who she is.
It is tempting to run from our pain. It is tempting to laugh off our pain, to pretend it doesn’t hurt as much, to package it nicely for everyone else. I have spent years running from the constant pain I lived in, and nothing got better because it was always there, in the corner of my eye.
When I look at Reputation, I see someone running from their pain but acting as if they acknowledge it. It’s still a great album, but it misses a level of honesty to me. But when I listen to Folklore or Evermore, even though many of the songs employ storytelling devices, you feel what she went through. Songs like Mirrorball and Exile feel far more honest, like she’s opening up about what it was really like to be here during all of that negativity. Looking at the Vault songs from Red (Taylor’s Version), they seem more honest, and maybe that’s why they were cut the first time around. But now, she’s ready to share her pain and to use it in her art.
Running from your pain is so tempting, but you never get far enough to shake it. As scary as it is to embrace how we’ve suffered, it allows us to use this pain and take ownership of it. It could be through art, through music, writing or painting. But it can also just be in who you are. You could become a person who discusses how you’ve suffered, so that people can use it to understand you and help. You could become a person who sees the pain in others and gives them the space to open up.
To become the Taylor’s Version of your own life, you need to embrace the pain that made you who you are today, and use it to become the best version of yourself.
From a young age, we are taught that we are not good enough. There is always something we should change, some product we need to buy, some person we should be trying to imitate. There is always something. And whilst it’s important to leave room for growth, we can’t live our lives unhappy with who we already are. We need to love the core and then grow from there.
Taylor spent years trying to mould herself into what people wanted of her, and my favourite part of Taylor’s Version is that she is embracing who she is. She is playing up to the stereotypes that she was boy-crazy or vindictive and accepting it. She is releasing songs about guys from over a decade ago because they mistreated her. She released a ten-minute song with no shame, and her fans adore her for it. Taylor demonstrates that you should accept who you are because so many will love you exactly for that.
For Taylor to become Taylor’s Version, and for you to become your own version, you need to play to your strengths, even if people mistakenly think they’re weaknesses. I am a highly sensitive person, and I’ve always been told that I am TOO sensitive. But what if it’s also a good thing? What if it allows me to be emotionally intelligent and aware of others? I am also a total Swiftie, something I hid for years because people were so judgemental and claimed her music was “bad” when it’s subjective taste. But now I wear it with pride because I am passionate about Taylor Swift, and that’s something people can take or leave; I write dozens of tweets about her releases and entire articles on the subject of her. That is simply who I am. Find out who you really are and stick to it, embrace it, love it.
There are people out there who will love you for just being who you are. Family, friends, partners and more, are all waiting for the chance to appreciate your true self. Just like you love other people for who they are, quirks and all.
Too often, we unconsciously reject the love of others because we can’t comprehend how someone could love us. We push people away because that feels better than being abandoned later. We hide who we are so rejection wouldn’t sting so deep.
Part of the immense success of Taylor’s Version lies in the vulnerability. She is opening up the door to her mind and her heart; she is opening old wounds to show us how they really felt; she is giving us a chance to love her, not just who her team marketed her to be. I think it’s something we could all stand to do a little more. To let someone in and risk the pain. Because that pain, that abandonment, that vulnerability, that’s what makes love and life taste so sweet, that is the gift of a heart, even when it hurts so much sometimes.
Taylor’s Version is about giving her fans a behind-the-scenes look at the albums we adored, showing us the songs that weren’t ‘right’ for it, showing us the narratives that got left behind. Just look at All Too Well, and how much deeper the ten-minute version allows us to go, the immense pain that was ‘too much’ at the time.
Give people a behind-the-scenes look at you. Allow yourself to be a human with vulnerabilities, shortcomings, lessons to be learned, and in that, allow yourself to be loved.
Because you’ll be loved as the honest, unfiltered version, you’ll be loved as the Taylor’s Version.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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