This week’s epiphany: we live in a world full of glittering people and things.
Sometimes this place feels a whole lot like the Hunger Games – everyone is crazy talented and you better believe they’ll use their strengths to knock you down. Other days it feels like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood: warm cardigans for everyone and encouragement to boot. Ultimately, you have to shine extra bright if you want to fly to the top.
I enjoyed a glittering thing on Monday night with three best friends. We lay on the floor tackling interfaith dialogue, Elizabeth Gaskell, international politics, and interpersonal communication, but we tackled with extra energy because we had Taylor Swift as motivational support. If you’re a girl between 8 and 28, her latest album will make you want to be an 80s pop princess for the rest of your life.
Listening to her new lyrics, I began to wonder what being Taylor must feel like. Or rather, what it’s like to be anyone who’s anyone.
To be known by a glimpse of your profile.
To have piles of money.
To be featured on magazine covers, distorted by airbrushing and worse, distorted by perceptions of all those readers.
To have Hollywood all of a flutter.
To know that same Hollywood can also rip you to shreds in an instant.
To have complete strangers screaming your name, worshiping you, mocking you, adoring you, defining you.
I thought about being Taylor Swift and then I thought about being average and how nice average actually feels.
As Taylor Swift’s mom grocery shops and runs errands, I’m sure she sees her little girl posing on the cover of Vogue and she probably glows with pride – that’s my baby. God did her good.
Stacking cereal and dishwasher detergent on a Target conveyor belt, Mama Swift must imagine her daughter in stilettos and red lipstick, jet-setting to some big production meeting or rehearsing on a bright stage.
College has presented me with so many Taylors. I have bumped into glittering young adults with dreams bigger than mine and the confidence to snatch them out of the air – to tell success why yes, you’re coming with me and you’re helping me go places.
On multiple occasions I’ve felt like the soccer mom in sweats, standing in a Target aisle with my 2% milk and my uncertainty, rooting for everyone else and forgetting to root for me.
Because when you’re surrounded by stars, it’s easy to step backstage, into the shadows, and to find security in anonymity.
But I’m willing to bet that Taylor Swift’s mom is awesome. I mean, a girl like that doesn’t come from lackluster origins.
I will always support the celebs of my twenty-something career – they are extraordinary people and I know that they will fly all the way to the top. When it feels as though I’m being left behind or my victories pale in comparison, I’m going to remember that somebody has to be Taylor Swift’s mom. Somebody has to stay at home and answer the phone when Taylor has a bad day.
Yet between those phone calls and invitations to be #1 fan are also opportunities to live and breathe with anticipation of our own moments in the spotlight. That is why we must continue to nurture audacious dreams – dreams that seem impossible but, as Audrey Hepburn told us in her prime, simultaneously whisper I’m possible.