Each of us grow up admiring and respecting someone or something, or maybe even multiple someones or somethings. And, when the fundamental idea, image and what you thought you knew of the person or thing you held so highly of is altered, much less destroyed and shattered, you not only question who or what you supported, but also what it is that you stand for and what in your life is actually true.
For me, one of the people I have always looked up to was, and is, Taylor Swift. And, last night, the character and credibility of Taylor Swift was undermined and called into question when Kim Kardashian released Snapchat video of Kanye West and Taylor Swift speaking on the phone about incomplete lines of "Famous." Naturally, when news first broke and the internet reacted, my heart raced and I was thrown into a state of confusion, a feeling of anger, disappointment and yes, doubt, all at the same time.
It's been a couple hours—I have been struggling to decide how to feel, much less who and what to believe and trust, continually sucked back into Twitter to see how this will play out. I tried going to bed, but at 3AM in the morning, as I write to try and process my thoughts, I think I finally have an answer: I stand by and trust Taylor Swift.
What happened yesterday was an attack at the basic trustworthiness of Taylor Swift, in a society where accountability is important social capital, assumptions and conclusions are prematurely drawn and facts, or sometimes, opinions presented as facts, are chosen to fit a binary narrative. In a way, I believe it fed into the people who so desperately wanted their narrative of Taylor Swift to be right, proof that they wanted all along that Taylor Swift is calculated and insincere. However, this post is not about Kim Kardashian or Kanye West, and therefore, not about my opinions on either of them. This post is also not a defense of Taylor Swift, because the truth is that not only is that her job, but also, as with each of us, she is flawed and has made plenty of mistakes. Some of the criticism about her is justified; for example, while she has frequently used her platform and her voice for good, she has failed to speak out, at times, when she is not directly involved, such as with intersectional struggles that women of color encounter or speaking about feminism with a backdrop of all men at the Grammy's. Most importantly, however, is that this post is not about my analysis of what unfolded.
What this post is about is why I chose and choose to believe in Taylor Swift. While the court of public opinion may have harshly sent out its verdict last night, I still choose to believe in Taylor Swift. I choose to believe not out of blindness nor ignorance, but because of how she has helped me grow and what she has consistently demonstrated in the last decade since she has become a household name.
Taylor Swift taught me to always be Fearless, to love more, to try new things and to strive to do better.
Taylor Swift provided me a refuge with her music for lonely days and nights when no one else in my life understood.
Taylor Swift pushed me to always Speak Now, giving me words to eloquently express thoughts that otherwise would have been lost in translation.
Taylor Swift helped me Shake It Off and grow comfortable with exactly who I am, from something as trivial as dancing shamelessly in front of everyone to something as important as loving shamelessly in front of everyone.
Taylor Swift is an integral part of who I have become.
People often ask why I love Taylor Swift. There is no doubt that it began with her music. When I discovered Love Story, still my favorite song today, and then You Belong With Me, I had no idea who Taylor Swift was. But, when Forever & Always got stuck in my head, I finally connected the dots, going back and purchasing her self-titled debut album, Taylor Swift, and Fearless. Since then, there has not been a Taylor Swift song I did not like. As her music became a more important part of my music library, her authenticity, grace, humility and what her fame was built upon also stood out to me, especially in an industry so famous for producing artists who found spotlight at too young an age, like Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. Taylor Swift has remained focused on her work and consistent to what she believes in.
At the core, this is the reason I love who and what I love: I love them because of what they support and represent, as well as the commitment to important values they have taught me to live by. This is true of Taylor Swift, Google and United, and equally as accurate for the people I care most about. As such, while I care about loyalty, it is equally as important to me that my support and the investment of my energy and time is justified and thoughtful, not simply given because of naivete. The people and things that we love are not immortal and immune to doing wrong that may disappoint us or force us to end our support—I have certainly had to learn this with friends in my life.
I do not believe that Taylor Swift can do no wrong, as some of my friends may think I believe. Instead, Taylor Swift has consistently demonstrated who she is and the values she stands for both privately, as confirmed even by those that do not know her, and publicly in ways that are concrete. Her past actions transcends the complexities and intricacies of the current situation.
I stood by and trusted Taylor Swift yesterday. I stand by and trust Taylor Swift today. And I hope I can continue to stand by and trust Taylor Swift tomorrow.
It's okay, life is a tough crowd—your string of lights is still bright to me, Taylor.