By Ada Zhang
After years of hiding in the closet with my old-school hip hop and Bon Iver, I’m finally coming out. I hereby announce — without shame and without regard for the friends who might turn against me — that am a Taylor Swift fan. Go ahead, you obscure-indie-listeners and rap-music-devotees, say what you want. Call me a “Swiftie,” even, because that’s exactly what I am.
Her latest album, “1989,” is what did it for me, and more specifically, her single, “Blank Spaces.” Not only is it incredibly catchy (like literally all of her songs are), it’s clever. Taylor is taking back the narrative of the “crazy ex-girlfriend/serial dater,” allowing herself to embody the character the media accuses her of being.
Frankly, it’s genius.
When it comes to dating, there are three major concepts we can all learn from my new friend, Taylor Swift.
1. Turn Heartache Into Art
Taylor gets a lot of flak for constantly writing about her exes, which I never understood. Even when I claimed to be anti-Swift, it wasn’t because she wrote about her exes that I disliked her. (I disliked like her because I was too busy putting myself in a box that didn’t leave space for enjoying country music. A story for a later time.)
Adam Levine writes about his past relationships. So does Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Usher, Robin Thicke, and a number of other male artists.
When men write about their past relationships, however, reactions from the public are vastly different. There’s no “Ugh, there he goes again, complaining about how his heart got broken” or “Can he please write about something besides his exes?”
Heartbreak is one of the most intense human experiences, and we shouldn’t be afraid to dance about it, sing about it, or turn it into an eight-by-11-foot oil painting. Our feelings and emotions are our own, and we should have the liberty to do with them as we please, without the fear of being called “obsessive” or “crazy.”
Creating is how we make sense of our experiences, both the best and worst of them. By expressing ourselves, we come to a clearer understanding of why things happened the way they did, and why it was important to let certain people go.
Using heartache to create your next masterpiece doesn’t make you a crazy ex-girlfriend—it makes you an artist. More power to ya.
2. Revel in the Madness
In interviews, Taylor has talked about how, unlike her previous albums, “1989” portrays love in a manner that is complex, colorful, and joyfully mad. It’s obvious that Taylor has come to a nuanced understanding of love, a game in which there is rarely an obvious winner and loser, but rather a draw. Both lose, and both also win.
The reason I keep playing “Blank Spaces” over and over again is because I can’t get enough of how the upbeat, fun melody contradicts with some of the borderline depressing lyrics. One of the stanzas goes, “So it’s gonna be forever/ Or it’s gonna go down in flames/ You can tell me when it’s over/ If the high was worth the pain,” but sung in Taylor’s youthful voice and juxtaposed against lively instrumentals, the lyrics convey a feeling of bliss amidst chaos, of reverie that is at once bitter and cheerful.
Once the initial sucky-ness of the breakup has passed, we should try and think about our past the way Taylor sings about hers. We should laugh at our blunders, make fun of our haughty, overly romantic expectations, but beyond that, we should appreciate a relationship even when it crashes and burns—because at one point, it was everything we were looking for.
3. Keep On Trying
Despite how nasty the media can be, Taylor keeps doing her thing. She ignores the noise and continues seeking out that one person for whom she’ll stop writing breakup songs. Some call her a serial dater; I call her a love enthusiast.
Feeling insecure and confused after a breakup is normal, so it’s good to give yourself some alone time before diving back into the dating scene. Contemplate, eat pizza, write a song about your ex, do whatever you need to do to grieve and heal.
But afterwards, don’t be afraid to try again, and then again after that. And then again after that if you need to! Cherish every failed relationship along the way, and know that a love that is at once passionate and gentle, exciting and enduring, is out there, but you’re never going to find it if you don’t actively look. People might call you a serial dater — ignore them. They’re salty because they don’t have the courage to be vulnerable.
Good luck in all your endeavors at romance. I wish you the best of luck—in finding love, and in dealing with heartbreak. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have years of lost time to make up for. Why I have deprived my ears from the poeticism and lyrical sentimentality of “Tim McGraw” for SEVEN YEARS beats me. I’m currently obsessed.