As it is known by my iTunes billing company and the majority of my Twitter followers, I am one of the most avid Taylor Swift fans in the world. I know every superfan says that about everything they love, but, like, how am I supposed to even be considered a superfan if I don't denote myself as the greatest fan to ever exist?
No matter what my status in the audience, it is March 13, 2014, and it is my One Year Anniversary since meeting Taylor Swift. We only had a 30-second window that included hugs, compliments, and everything you can assume, but it was something I had waited my entire childhood to do. Taylor was the first person to give meaning to my feelings and inspire me to write and communicate them, which is one of the most powerful gifts I have received in life. She also carried me through most of my middle school fashion choices and has really continued to be a very refreshingly feministic role model for me as I've aged through the world of princesses and pirate ships (bonus points if you get that reference). Today, I stand before you as someone who wears red lipstick and writes blog posts about my existential crises because I was raised under the idea that genuine feeling is the backbone of harmony, and I have Taylor to thank for that confidence.
Since our meeting and my experience at the Red Tour a year ago, I've gone through a curly hair to straight hair transformation, and, to celebrate, I thought I'd give a little chunk of that wisdom to all of you.
1. Never be ashamed to love. This idea has always been somewhat hidden behind my already-enthusiastic exterior, but I've learned in the last year that one of the worst things you can do is hold yourself back from expressing appreciation towards something. As long as you can stay healthy in regards to that affection, by all means, adore everything you possibly can.
2. Know your limits. As a follow-up, I think it's absolutely vital to be aware of your boundaries and the boundaries of others. Definitely push the envelope when it feels right, but don't spend your life playing the lottery to keep things exciting. Let your situations have their own coming of age, and don't force yourself into maturing into someone who can deal with everything immediately.
3. Tell your story. If someone asks you a question, do not hesitate being completely honest in your answer. Live like you mean it, because you're probably a fictional character in some alternate universe, and the world really is waiting on you to deliver the best dialogue lines in history. But also, as a human being, your memories and your personal struggles are the most dependably beautiful things to invest in.
4. Let the world affect you. Never think you are immune to feeling. Allow yourself to be inspired and hurt and helped, because your growth depends on it. And also, you're going to need something to tell people at dinner parties when you're 28 and can't believe you're actually attending dinner parties.
5. Assert your independence. This is kind of like knowing your limits, except it's a lot more empowering. Take your understanding of the world and employ it like you sign its paychecks. Be able to distinguish yourself in any situation, and know that your perception is the most complex and compassionate part of you, and you get the privilege of rediscovering it every single day.
6. Collaborate. As the story goes, you have to take your individual talents and serve them on a silver platter to something considered "the greater good." I think the great and good things in the world all come from a blended little mix of empathy, synergy, and effort. You should try the best you can to put yourself into a team where creativity is the bullseye.
7. Do what you want. I think you should follow instructions, and I think you really should get started on that 6-step algebra problem (when you're done reading this), but I also think you should be able to visualize and seek opportunity in the hemispheres of your world that don't always get as much attention as they should. In the words of Tom Haverford (literally the best character on Parks & Recreation), TREAT YO SELF.
8. Talk. Communicate with people and allow them to confide in you in a way that makes you both completely susceptible to respect and value. Then use those traits to feel at the highest voltage of electric connection. Knowing others and being curious about their lives is everything. Dwell in your world, and know your species.
9. Be brave. Take on challenges like they're another blanket to cover you at night. Leap into things like your survival depends on it, because, in retrospect, it really does.
10. Sing along in the car. I don't care who you are. If you know the lyrics and the atmosphere is right, sing the song. This is how bonds are formed. THIS IS HOW MEMORIES ARE MADE. (The same goes for dancing to the Electric Slide at wedding receptions and the Cupid Shuffle at Homecoming.)
11. Take pictures. Stop being afraid to smile because you have braces or because your hair doesn't look right that day. It will 20 years from now, and you're going to want to blow the dust off your yearbooks and photo albums when someone asks you what it was like being on the debate team in high school. If you live being propelled by passion and fascination, the candid pictures from a random Tuesday and your wedding day will both be nothing short of unforgettable.
12. Stay grounded. I mean, really plant yourself as the most well-rounded seed you can find. Give yourself the greatest foundation possible, and build up from there. Don't strive for too much, but don't stay settled in one spot. Reach, but don't pull a muscle.
13. Don't worry if you aren't there yet. Don't be concerned if you haven't met all of these life lessons, because half of them could potentially be wrong, and the ones that are right will introduce themselves to you in due time. That sounds like such a guidance counselor thing to say, but just keep in mind that the fluctuating journey from foreign territory to home is happening all around you, and you're never too far away from a dream.