This past year has been very isolating, physically as well as emotionally. I remember how much in disbelief I was when we got the email last spring saying that we had to go home and take classes online for the rest of the semester. I honestly believed that by the summer, life would be back to normal. I believed that I would be returning to campus in the fall and seeing my friends very soon. I did not picture spending many long months in quarantine, isolated from everyone. I did not imagine the toll this would take on my mental health. I did not expect to feel so anxious, lonely, and fearful of the future. But something else I didn’t expect was to be listening to three new albums by Taylor Swift. This past year, Taylor Swift released the albums folklore and evermore, and just recently, her 2008 album, Fearless, but rebranded to Fearless (Taylor’s Version). I do not know if it was fate or some higher power that knew I needed these albums when I did, but every single one was released right when I needed her music the most.

That summer, after we first went online, I was struggling a lot with being isolated from my friends and family. I felt really unsure of what to do with my time in quarantine. My plans were changing. My study abroad trip to Spain had just been cancelled. It was around this time when the University decided to move all classes for the fall semester to an online format. My roommate and I were told that we would not be able to live together in Sharp Hall for the fall. I was devastated. I kept expecting more and more bad news each day. With the number of COVID cases rising fast in the summer, I felt that an end was nowhere in sight. Yet, right when I was dealing with all of these negative emotions and thoughts, Taylor Swift released her album folklore. This album is so unlike any of her previous albums. Her songs on the album have themes of pain, betrayal, and struggles. The music tends to have a darker feel about it. And surprisingly, this album gave me a sense of peace and comfort, for the stories she told in her songs made me feel less alone. I felt that I could share in the pain and sadness of her songs. Taylor Swift’s music gave me a sense of hope when I was feeling so isolated.

Then, the fall semester came around, and I began to feel that loneliness again. Being away from friends for so long and not being on campus was really hard. And it was especially difficult when finals came around. I was feeling burnt-out, overwhelmed, and anxious. But right when I needed it, evermore, the sister album to folklore, was released. Her songs on this album are more hopeful and a continuation of the journey she took her listeners on in folklore. In her songs, she is making it past the pain and the struggles she described in folklore, and is reaching a better place. I was able to just listen to her music and forget my worries for a bit. Once again, her music helped me deal with my anxiety and fears, and it brought me some much needed company while I finished out the semester. 

And, just recently, as I tried to study for my exams, write my many essays for Mr. Peters’ E316 course, and plan out my fall schedule, Swift released a new version of her album Fearless. The songs on this album have brought me so much comfort and joy over these past weeks. These songs remind me of summers spent at camp with friends. They remind me of times without stress and uncertainty. They have also been an outlet to just focus on the present moment and combat my anxious thoughts and worries. 

Taylor Swift’s music has always had a special place in my heart. I think having these albums as a source of comfort during these past few stressful and isolating semesters have reminded me to focus on the little things. They have reminded me to seek out those little sources of comfort and joy to help me feel less alone. I know that, as Honors students, it is easy to get caught up in all the work we have to do and forget to take care of ourselves, but I have found that while listening to Taylor Swift’s albums, I am able to appreciate the present more. I can take a break from my busy schedule and simply enjoy the music and the moment. While I have struggled a lot this past year, as I sit here, writing this blog and listening to Taylor Swift, I tell myself, “this is me trying” to not let my thoughts control me, and instead focus on the right now.

Listen to “this is me trying” by Taylor Swift HERE!

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