Taylor Swift’s music perfectly encapsulates so many of life’s biggest milestones. Her earliest albums taught Swifties how to tackle the challenges of high school, her more recent ones have touched upon serious topics like sexism and mental health, and the releases in between all dished out wisdom on relationships Swifties found invaluable. Throughout her career, when Swift opened and closed a chapter, fans did to. Her life played out publicly for fans to see, and as she grew from her pitfalls and heartbreaks, fans grew right along with her. These life lessons from Taylor Swift’s albums changed us all.
What makes Swift’s music so special is not her lyrical prose and catchy beats, but its relatable quality. Swift has the innate ability to make her fans feel like they’re her closest confidants, infusing her songs with personal, detailed life stories. She hasn’t shied away from getting specific with the details, and once even shamelessly name-dropped an ex. Perhaps the biggest lesson of all is not to break Swift’s heart.
Whether you’re a day-one Swiftie, or a newcomer to her dedicated fanbase, there’s a lesson to be learned from each of her albums to date.
Taylor Swift (2006)
1. "Picture to Burn" taught you relationships can get messy.
Swift’s angsty breakup song directed at a cheating ex taught us all one thing: not to settle, and, if you’re feeling bold, seek revenge. Looking back, it might not have been the best advice, but since Tay was just 16 years old at the time, I’ll give her a break.
2. "A Place In This World" taught you adolescent years can be downright confusing.
Swift’s 2006 song "A Place In This World" was all about trying to figure out a life path, and what’s more relatable than that? If there’s anything to be learned from Swift’s lyrics here, it’s that no one is alone in navigating the confusing years of adolescence. When Swift sang, "I don’t know what I want, so don’t ask me / ‘Cause I’m still trying to figure it out," I felt that.
3. "Fifteen" taught you that dating the high school football quarterback won’t make you cool.
Swift sings about the pressures to be cool in high school on "Fifteen," and whether it’s your freshman year of high school, or you’re gearing up to graduate, the song hits home. Most importantly, it taught us to take a lot of deep breaths throughout those tumultuous high school years.
4. "The Best Day" made you appreciate your parents more as you got older.
"The Best Day" was a beautiful ode to Swift’s parents, and even featured never-before-seen footage from her childhood in the music video. Teenage years are tough, but Swift was sure to show appreciation for her parents help on Fearless.
5. "White Horse" taught you to be wary of fairytales.
On "White Horse," Swift gave her relationship a more realistic approach, realizing it may not be destined after all. "I’m not your princess, this ain’t a fairytale," she sang, before walking out the door on her whimsical romance.
Speak Now (2010)
6. "Mean" taught you how to rise above bullying.
Swift’s "Mean" is actually an anthem for kindness, rising above the bullies around you, and never stooping to their level. Swift happily sings about breaking out of her small town and leaving the nay-sayers who plagued her life in the dust. Basically, the song is inspo at it’s finest.
7. "Innocent" taught you the value of forgiveness
After hearing the lyrics to "Innocent," fans presumed it was written in response to Kanye West’s interruption of her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Swift later confirmed this, but insisted the song was written to him, not about him.
8. "22" taught you that your early 20’s are a time for fun.
Swift let loose on "22" in the most fun-loving way possible. Aside from being almost-annoyingly catchy, the song taught us that it’s perfectly OK to be happy, free, confused, and lonely all at once.
9. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" taught you some exes are meant to be left in the past.
We’ve all had an on-again, off-again relationship, but, sometimes, it’s important to stand your ground. That’s the most important takeaway from Swift’s "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" where she kicks an ex to the curb for the final time.
10. "Welcome To New York" taught you that moving to a new city can be invigorating.
"Welcome To New York" is a shimmering tribute to the Big Apple’s sights, sounds, and opportunities. Tay’s ode to the city taught us that taking chances and facing new beginnings are always worthwhile, even when its daunting.
11. "How You Get The Girl" taught you the right way to win back an ex.
Some relationships are meant to come to an end, but if there’s an ex you simply can’t stop thinking about late at night, "How You Get The Girl" is a lesson in how to be brave enough to show up at their doorstep and tell them.
12. "This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things" taught you that friends come and go.
Presumably written about her second fallout with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, track 13 off Reputation is an ode for anyone who’s had a friendship spontaneously combust into a full-blown feud.
13. "New Year’s Day" that you that real love endures through hard times.
On New Year’s Day, Swift likens a healthy relationship to New Year’s Day, after the glitzy holiday parties are over and the cleanup begins. It’s metaphorical, of course, for the hard times that coincide with even the happiest relationships.
14. "The Man" reminded you sexism is alive and well.
Swift envisions how much easier life would be as a man on this track, which provided one of her most-important learnings to date: sexism is still prevalent in the music industry, as well as society, and must be acknowledged.
15. "Paper Rings" taught you that authentic love is free.
As nice as a hunk of pricey bling sounds, Swift vows to walk down the aisle with a paper ring on track 8 from Lover. The romantic track taught us all that the value of love should be placed in what a partner has to offer emotionally, not financially.
16. "ME!" taught you about self-love.
With lyrics like: "I’m the only one of me, baby that’s the fun of me," Swift’s self-love anthem was not only one of the catchiest singles from Lover, but it provided an instant self-esteem boost with each listen.
17. "The 1" taught you memories may linger long after a relationship ends.
Swift takes a walk down memory lane on "The 1," reflecting on a failed relationship and what she could have done differently. It’s not a sad song per say (Swift insists she’s doing good), but it’s an introspective take on the process of healing that anyone could learn from.
18. "Peace" taught you about self-awareness.
"Peace" was one of Swift’s most introspective songs yet. Written as if speaking to a lover, she explained that for all the wonderful qualities she has to offer them, peace isn’t one of them. More than anything, it was a lesson in appreciating all of the qualities, good and bad, in a partner.
19. "Evermore" taught you there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
At the beginning of "Evermore," Swift sings about long-lasting pain, but by the end of the track, she realizes that the pain she’s experiencing "wouldn’t" be forever. Many fans viewed the title track as a nod to the coronavirus pandemic, and the glimmer of hope we all see ahead.
20. "It’s Time To Go" taught you to listen to your gut.
Whether it be a job, a relationship, or a friendship, Swift’s bonus track from evermore perfectly described the sinking feeling in your gut when you know it’s time to close one door and open a new one.
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