Taylor Swift’s latest albums, Folkore and Evermore, aren’t only perfectly vibed masterpieces that I can’t stop bopping to. These albums are straight up professional development tools. They’re my own personal Lean In-esque musical manifesto, offering insights that invigorate me as a blogger and content creator.
8 Lessons I Learned From Taylor Swift
Boundaries Are Important
Taylor Swift was famous for writing songs about her personal life, particularly her relationships. Her first handful of albums were full of clues (easter eggs, if you will) about her own life. She’d scatter her secrets among key changes and liner notes.
And fans scooped them up like the delectable bread crumbs they were.
Today, Swift seems more conspicuously private. She’s in a relationship she cherishes, with an extremely private man she adores. Therefore, Taylor found a new way of doing what she loves (writing songs) without sacrificing pieces of herself. She found a way to detach, to write and sing about emotions without them being so immediate.
This inspires me to draw clear lines around what’s mine. I don’t need to show my audience every stretch mark, every dust bunny, share every defeating thought, to be accessible or “real.”.
Reinvention Is Good
I wonder if she was nervous to make such a change? Fans loved (perhaps obsessed over) combing her videos, social media posts, liner notes, fashion choices, etc, for clues about Taylor’s life. Would Swifties still feel as connected without the soul baring?
But her new circumstances, perspective, and boundaries made it necessary to find a way. She had to create. And she had to keep some things to herself.
(Spoiler alert: Swifties did feel as connected. Her fans embraced her Folklore and Evermore.)
This reiterates that self-acceptance generates overall acceptance. I feel better when doing what I love and expressing myself clearly. That better feeling initiates a glow that others respond to. And if they don’t? Eh. I’m still sleeping better at night.
Just Be Yourself
And if it’s time for reinvention, it’s best to become…more yourself. After thirteen years in the spotlight (ooh, Swift’s lucky number), Folklore and Evermore strip Taylor to the essentials: incredibly written songs sung in an unaffected voice.
Swift didn’t start writing songs to tease facets of her life, but for a love of weaving musical storylines. (Also, who even was that girl who sang the first two albums? All twangy. For goodness sake, Taylor Swift is from Pennsylvania.)
Swift’s return to her love of songwriting prods me to worry more about my content than my aesthetic. To worry less about staging the shot and more about how I show up and serve in the caption and comment section. I don’t want to post randomly, or self-servingly. I want to post stories that inspire, serve, and entertain.
Happiness is Possible After Personal and Business “Failures”
Swift had a rough go of it during her Reputation era. She was “outed” as a snake by Kim Kardashian West, endured subsequent online mockery and schadenfreude, and left her long-standing record label after tussling over the rights to her music. Then, after she left, her old manager went and sold those rights to this dude she hates.
So, yeah. Rough couple of years.
But Swift remained prolific, motivating me to do the same, despite external circumstances. Life is fickle. The business world is fickle. My content output doesn’t need to be. If I’m doing what I love and delivering content I believe in, all that other stuff is just noise.
No Need To Announce A Pivot
When something no longer works for you, it’s important to pivot. Whether it be out of a contract, a relationship, or a style of expression that no longer feels true. You don’t have to announce it. You can drop bombs on your own terms. And you don’t have to explain. Or ask for permission.
While of course, I want to connect with my followers, I don’t want to be dependent on my audience, you know? I don’t want the hypothetical reactions of my followers to dictate anything as small as my online content or as big as my real-life choices.
Swift’s bold, successful, and (seemingly) abrupt reinvention inspires me to focus on doing what works for me, regardless (or in spite of) the reactions of others.
Your Terms Are The Best Terms
In this time of less personal disclosure, it’s interesting to note the details that Swift does reveal. Like, when announcing her departure from Big Machine Records for Universal, Swift specifically wrote that she would own the rights to her music with this label change.
It’s almost as if not being able to own the rights to her music severed Taylor’s relationship with Big Machine Records.
Her behavior towards her work encourages me to treat my content like gold. To guard it against plagiarizing, know what I’m worth, negotiate aggressively, and walk away when I need to.
Talent Speaks For Itself
The songs on Folklore and Evermore tell stories, as good as any novel. In fact, some songs are inspired by novels. My favorite song (“Happiness” on Evermore) is a reimagining of The Great Gatsby. The lyric from that song,
And in the disbelief
I can’t face reinvention.
I haven’t met the new me yet.
make my very guts clench. Every. Time. These lyrics inspire me to hone my creativity and discipline.
Folklore and Evermore were written during the unsettling Great Quarantine of 2020. Though I don’t have the comforts of a mansion, private studios, and the jets to get to them, I too can turn inward in weird times. I can nurture and tend my creative spark. I can take risks when life is uncertain.
I’m My Own Niche, Dang It
Everybody loves a good pigeonhole, don’t they? There’s incredible pressure, personal and professional, for people to do the expected. To stay congruent. A mother should act like what we expect a mother should act like. Or a banker. Or a waitress. Or a young blond country singing darling. You get what I’m saying.
Taylor Swift went from Twangy Princess (Taylor Swift) to Synthesizer Queen (1989), despite the real dismay of her record label and the hypothetical dismay of her fan base.
And now she’s pivoted again with Folklore and Evermore (albums Rolling Stone called “folk goth”).
There’s an expectancy in the blogging world to niche down as tightly and specifically as possible. It’s certainly can be a quicker way to rank for a subject than churning out disparate content. It’s also just…easier to concentrate on one subject.
But that’s not me. Disparate is my middle name. I want to be a book blog and a parenting blog and a lifestyle blog. So I will be. After all, if Taylor Swift had stayed in her original niche, we’d never have 1989, Reputation, Lover, Folklore, or Evermore.
Listening to Taylor Swift’s Folklore and Evermore fills me with creativity, hope, and courage. I’m digging this Taylor Swift era: she’s older, more introspective, less opaque, and (still) incredibly talented.
How do you feel about Taylor Swift? Folklore and Evermore? Let me know in the comments.