I used to have strong opinions on Taylor Swift. She was the object of my disdain, the punchline of my jokes, my all-purpose receptacle of haterade.
There were many reasons to dislike her. There were the videos, her songs, her very public dating life; there was the infamous 2012 interview where she completely missed the mark on what feminism actually means.
Then someone made a video where a goat bleeting was inter-cut with one of her music videos and the comparison stuck.
BUT THEN she made that little ditty — “Shake It Off”. I tried to resist but when that number made it onto my half marathon playlist, I knew that Taylor had made the same deal with the devil as Rihanna.
I started thinking about Taylor seriously. She sang songs about breakups gone wrong. Just like many artists before her. They may have been able to do it more deftly, but their feelings were just as valid as Ms. Swift’s.
You can argue that Taylor’s music is manufactured drivel, but she’s doing a job and she’s performing above expectations. Her work is valid, just like the work that anyone else does 9-5.
By accepting that her words and actions were just as valid as anyone else’s, I overcame my Tay-hate.
We have the tendency to dismiss actions and feelings as not valid — those of others and, more frequently, our own.
I’ve found that when we deny the validity of our thoughts and actions we’re likely to designate more stress to them than it’s worth. We don’t see it as part of the landscape — it becomes a gnarled obstacle jutting into our consciousness.
Accepting that you want to break a chair over someone’s back when you see them as a valid reaction is a lot healthier than insisting that you’re “totally ok”. I wouldn’t, but accepting that I had that feeling helped that feeling eventually go away.
The biggest obstacle to harmonious interaction may in fact be acceptance of others’ feelings as valid.
I have this friend, Sarah. We say the most ridiculous things to each other, our thoughts are able to spill out of our head and we exist in white girl’s Shangri-La, “The Judgement Free Zone”.
Sarah and I have wondered to each other how this relationship is able to exist. That’s when I realized what it was — when we said things to each other we didn’t feel compelled to have an opinion on them, we just accepted it all as valid.
After months of listening to Taylor in secret, I finally accepted her valid. And now I’m letting her shake it off.