Learning to love fearlessly

Photo courtesy of Maya Torres, Student Publications

Like every other bright-eyed girl in my second grade class, I listened to Taylor Swift religiously. I owned the “Fearless” CD and played it on my Sony music player constantly. In the days before lyric websites, I relied simply on my own listening and memorization to know and cherish every word on the album.

I laughed and cried and smiled along with hits like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” and looked forward to the day where I too would fall in love and have my heart broken and have the strength to do it all over again. Like the song, I too would one day be “Fifteen” and experience everything Queen Taylor promised would happen when I hit high school.

Eventually, though, the magic wore off. I became an emo kid, sporting my Fall Out Boy t-shirts and despising anyone who still had the courage to like Taylor Swift. Love was a thing of fairytales, not of the fluorescent lighted halls of my middle school.

High school came and went, and I didn’t even remember to miss out on the great romantic adventure I had been promised years ago. When Taylor made her powerful return with “Reputation” and “Lover,” I didn’t notice. I didn’t care.

With “Folklore” and “Evermore,” I at least batted an eye. I liked “August” and “The 1” and “Cardigan.” But none of Taylor’s folk-pop bliss would ever stimulate me emotionally the way “Fearless” did when I was seven years old.

And then Taylor’s Version, a newly rerecorded version of the “Fearless” album, was announced, and the new “Love Story” dropped. Was it a marketing stunt? Most likely. Did it sound the exact same? Yes, and this is a hill that I will in fact die on. But did I care? No; in fact, I listened to it on repeat.

Before the rest of Taylor’s version dropped, I wanted to be ready. I listened to the original album a handful of times, crying and singing along, and something clicked. I never fell in love in high school like I had wanted to. But this, right now, is when I can most relate to “Fearless.”

“Fifteen” is the story of freshman year of high school, experiencing the highs and lows of romantic infatuation and realizing that one’s true potential lies outside of a relationship.

Currently, perhaps a few years delayed, this is precisely what I am going through.

This past year has been one of extremes: the depression of quarantine and the euphoria of starting college and the rage of current politics and the terror of the future.

This past year, I’ve also fallen in love. And through that process, I’ve realized my own inner power: the power to survive, to flourish, and despite everything, to love fiercely.

The lyrics of “Fearless,” describing a feeling of utter devotion and infatuation, pretty much sums it up. Taylor’s promise, albeit later than expected, is finally coming true. I am growing, changing, and evolving beyond what I thought to be possible. And I’m so grateful that Taylor Swift has become the soundtrack to it all.

For me personally, I need “Fearless” now more than ever. Right now, there is no better time for Taylor’s Version.