My Year with 1989

In the days of my youth (reminder: I am literally not even twenty years old), I used to rock out to Taylor Swift with reckless abandon. I jammed so hard to timeless hits such as “White Horse” and “Dear John” and didn’t give either of them much thought, because I had never been in any romantic situation even remotely, so emotional connections to the songs didn’t really click. I was just a teen with a dream of french-kissing Joe Jonas, and Taylor Swift’s music was the closest thing I had to that.

I’ll forever know in my heart that Red, Taylor Swift’s pretty much full-on love letter to Jake Gyllenhaal, is my favorite Swift album, and maybe my favorite record of all time. I dare you to not scream along to “All Too Well” on full-volume while driving down a road filled with color-changing trees in autumn. It’s impossible! You can’t do it.

Despite my deep, unending appreciation for the basically October-themed Red record, I have to openly admit: 1989 is me. Everyone has a Taylor Swift album that speaks most to their soul, and 1989 fucking nailed it.

In some ways, I feel that 2015 has been my own personal 1989 year. Maybe it’s because, for the first time, I’ve really related to Taylor Swift’s music on a more mature and understanding level. This album is a piece of true modern art, a statement of pop poise and control, of romantic ideals paired with painful heartbreak, which is then coupled with renewal and self-restoration. As I’ve gone through this year, I’ve changed and grown so much. When this album was first released 12 months ago, I was a totally different human living a totally different life. And now I’m sitting here, writing this, listening to “Wildest Dreams” and thinking, “Wow, I never thought I could apply this to my life ever, but I can attach these lyrics to actual memories.” Like what the FUCK, Taylor Swift?!

1989 is a huge emotional mess, which is a lot like me too. Although it was written as a satirical response to tabloid gossip regarding Taylor Swift’s personal life, I (sadly) identify with the insane, jealous girl described in “Blank Space”. I have almost tweeted the lyrics to “I Wish You Would” like, a bajillion times, and I have the drafts to prove it. I stopped listening to “Style” for a couple months because it reminded me too much of someone I didn’t want to be reminded of. I secretly want to be betrayed so I can live out my Selena Gomez “Bad Blood” fantasy. There’s a lyric in “I Know Places” that says, “I know for me, it’s always you,” and I’ve felt that about someone.

Sometimes, listening to 1989 is painful. It reminds me of feeling sad, of crying in my car, on the treadmill, in my bed (okay, I cry a lot while listening to Taylor Swift). It drags me back through some of my lowest moments, reminds me of New York, pours salt into wounds that are still super fresh.

But then I sit in my car in the pouring rain and listen to “Clean” and I realize that, as the year begins to come to a close, everything that has happened has led me to this peak, this moment of extreme clarity in which I really am changed and washed away of everything that hasn’t served me for the better. Sometimes we’re meant to be dragged through our low moments so we can rise again. I think, in its most pure form, 1989 begins with a story of romantic love, and ends with a story of self-realization and acceptance. And I think I am finally clean.