Thursday, March 07, 2019

END GAME

Taylor Swift wrote a piece titled 30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30, and because, after five years, I can no longer pretend to be a closet stan, I have picked out the ones I thought resonate strongest with me, or things that I should really, really, really try to remember.
ONE: I learned to block some of the noise. Social media can be great, but it can also inundate your brain with images of what you aren’t, how you’re failing, or who is in a cooler locale than you at any given moment. One thing I do to lessen this weird insecurity laser beam is to turn off comments. Yes, I keep comments off on my posts. That way, I’m showing my friends and fans updates on my life, but I’m training my brain to not need the validation of someone telling me that I look 🔥🔥🔥. I’m also blocking out anyone who might feel the need to tell me to “go die in a hole ho” while I’m having my coffee at nine in the morning. I think it’s healthy for your self-esteem to need less internet praise to appease it, especially when three comments down you could unwittingly see someone telling you that you look like a weasel that got hit by a truck and stitched back together by a drunk taxidermist. An actual comment I received once.

THREE: Trying and failing and trying again and failing again is normal. It may not feel normal to me because all of my trials and failures are blown out of proportion and turned into a spectator sport by tabloid takedown culture (you had to give me one moment of bitterness, come on). BUT THAT SAID, it’s good to mess up and learn from it and take risks. It’s especially good to do this in your twenties because we are searching. That’s GOOD. We’ll always be searching but never as intensely as when our brains are still developing at such a rapid pace. No, this is not an excuse to text your ex right now. That’s not what I said. Or do it, whatever, maybe you’ll learn from it. Then you’ll probably forget what you learned and do it again.... But it’s fine; do you, you’re searching.

EIGHT: I learned not to let outside opinions establish the value I place on my own life choices. For too long, the projected opinions of strangers affected how I viewed my relationships. Whether it was the general internet consensus of who would be right for me, or what they thought was “couples goals” based on a picture I posted on Instagram. That stuff isn’t real. For an approval seeker like me, it was an important lesson for me to learn to have my OWN value system of what I actually want.

SIXTEEN: Before you jump in headfirst, maybe, I don’t know... get to know someone! All that glitters isn’t gold, and first impressions actually aren’t everything. It’s impressive when someone can charm people instantly and own the room, but what I know now to be more valuable about a person is not their charming routine upon meeting them (I call it a “solid first 15”), but the layers of a person you discover in time. Are they honest, self-aware, and slyly funny at the moments you least expect it? Do they show up for you when you need them? Do they still love you after they’ve seen you broken? Or after they’ve walked in on you having a full conversation with your cats as if they’re people? These are things a first impression could never convey.

EIGHTEEN: Realizing childhood scars and working on rectifying them. For example, never being popular as a kid was always an insecurity for me. Even as an adult, I still have recurring flashbacks of sitting at lunch tables alone or hiding in a bathroom stall, or trying to make a new friend and being laughed at. In my twenties I found myself surrounded by girls who wanted to be my friend. So I shouted it from the rooftops, posted pictures, and celebrated my newfound acceptance into a sisterhood, without realizing that other people might still feel the way I did when I felt so alone. It’s important to address our long-standing issues before we turn into the living embodiment of them.

NINETEEN: Playing mind games is for the chase. In a real relationship or friendship, you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t tell the other person how you feel, and what could be done to fix it. No one is a mind reader. If someone really loves you, they want you to verbalize how you feel. This is real life, not chess.

TWENTY-TWO: How to fight fair with the ones you love. Chances are you’re not trying to hurt the person you love and they aren’t trying to hurt you. If you can wind the tension of an argument down to a conversation about where the other person is coming from, there’s a greater chance you can remove the shame of losing a fight for one of you and the ego boost of the one who “won” the fight. I know a couple who, in the thick of a fight, say “Hey, same team.” Find a way to defuse the anger that can spiral out of control and make you lose sight of the good things you two have built. They don’t give out awards for winning the most fights in your relationship. They just give out divorce papers.

TWENTY-THREE: I learned that I have friends and fans in my life who don’t care if I’m #canceled. They were there in the worst times and they’re here now. The fans and their care for me, my well-being, and my music were the ones who pulled me through. The most emotional part of the Reputation Stadium Tour for me was knowing I was looking out at the faces of the people who helped me get back up. I’ll never forget the ones who stuck around.

TWENTY-FIVE: I remember people asking me, “What are you gonna write about if you ever get happy?” There’s a common misconception that artists have to be miserable in order to make good art, that art and suffering go hand in hand. I’m really grateful to have learned this isn’t true. Finding happiness and inspiration at the same time has been really cool.

TWENTY-EIGHT: I’m finding my voice in terms of politics. I took a lot of time educating myself on the political system and the branches of government that are signing off on bills that affect our day-to-day life. I saw so many issues that put our most vulnerable citizens at risk, and felt like I had to speak up to try and help make a change. Only as someone approaching 30 did I feel informed enough to speak about it to my 114 million followers. Invoking racism and provoking fear through thinly veiled messaging is not what I want from our leaders, and I realized that it actually is my responsibility to use my influence against that disgusting rhetoric. I’m going to do more to help. We have a big race coming up next year.

THIRTY: My mom always tells me that when I was a little kid, she never had to punish me for misbehaving because I would punish myself even worse. I’d lock myself in my room and couldn’t forgive myself, as a five-year-old. I realized that I do the same thing now when I feel I’ve made a mistake, whether it’s self-imposed exile or silencing myself and isolating. I’ve come to a realization that I need to be able to forgive myself for making the wrong choice, trusting the wrong person, or figuratively falling on my face in front of everyone. Step into the daylight and let it go.

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