The Culture Shock of New Taylor Swift Eras

Last night, I stayed up until midnight when in reality I was ready to go to bed at 10, maybe even 9:30. But, I had to stay up to watch in real time as the new era of Taylor Swift was born.

I remember watching the birth of 1989 Taylor. I was at band practice. It was towards the end of practice so everyone was in their own little groups “independently practicing music”. My sister came over and we watched the “Shake It Off” music video on her phone. I didn’t love it at first.

Same thing for Reputation Taylor. I watched “Look What You Made Me Do” with my sister in her bedroom. I didn’t like it.

And it may come to no surprise that I didn’t like “ME!” either.

That being said, I have watched the music video twice and listened to the song about four times while I was writing my last college paper today (!). And I love Taylor Swift. She was my most listened artist on Spotify in 2018.

(Okay this is a total side note but I love the heavy-handed symbolism at the beginning of the snake to the butterflies. That part was great. )

I think the reason that I don’t love the new songs the day they come out is that they are always aggressively new. They don’t feel like Taylor because they are barely reminiscent of the “old Taylor” on the first listen. But the longer I listen to the song, the more this version of Taylor mixes in with my other vision of her and I start to like it more. It’s like culture shock but with Taylor Swift Eras.

While she has been posting new visuals and I was not at all shocked by the aesthetic of the new video (it did take things a little farther than I thought it would), the sound and lyrics were not what I was expecting.

The Laubach Ladies at the Reputation Concert

Her Eras, Our Seasons

The idea of eras is really interesting to me in my own life because not only embraces change but forces it. If the new song was just like the songs on Reputation with all of the same imagery, we would have been disappointed.

I like that idea applied to my own life. I don’t have to be the same person I was a year ago, in fact I can’t be.

However, applying TS-level eras to real life has its drawbacks. She has a life outside the public eye where she can cultivate the new versions of herself and then debut them after a highly anticipated and theorized 13 day countdown. Whereas the rest of us slip in and out of our eras without any defined start and end point (for the most part) with more of an in between time where you are both eras. While Taylor Swift has eras, the rest of us have seasons.

Thinking about those seasons helps me thinking about where I want to be in my next season, while knowing that it won’t be my last season. I think there’s a lot of pressure for everyone, especially right after you graduate, to have their whole lives planned out— with career paths of constant upward movement in the same industry. And while I definitely want upward mobility (and the perks that come with it), I think at this point in my life lateral moves are much more exciting. Seasons and eras allow for those lateral moves.

I want to experience more of what the professional world has to offer before locking myself in to one place. I want to do more, in more places, with more people before I pick one. Ideally I’d never have to choose.

So here’s to Taylor Swift’s next era and our next seasons…I’m sure we’ll love them (and if we don’t, there’s always the next one)

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