Before You Judge Someone For Liking Taylor Swift 

My 16-year-old daughter and I sat shoulder to shoulder scrolling for updates on whether Taylor Swift would make it to the Monday Night Football game of her love interest, Travis Kelce. My husband looked at us and laughed, “You two are spending a lot of time researching their travel plans.” 

My daughter Lola sat up, squared her shoulders and said firmly, “You watch seven hours of football on Sundays alone. You have a ‘fantasy’ team that’s not even real and you spend hours and hours on that….” She was gearing up for a well-delivered diatribe when Penn cowered and said, “You’re right, you’re right! Carry on!”

There is much wrong with the world, so when someone finds something they love – I try to celebrate it. You like to go to conventions dressed as your favorite movie character? It’s amazing that you have a community interested in the same thing. You spend your weekends building tiny furniture for fairy houses to sit in your butterfly garden? So cool! Do you like a sport enough to watch hours and hours and create make believe teams to compete in make believe games? Have at it. 

My husband and son sit (without shame) and watch the NFL for hours every week. For the past 20 years, my husband Penn has spent actual money to travel in order to hold a draft of players into this ‘fantasy’ league. Entire websites and apps exist to create imaginary games for these fictional teams and we do not ridicule the participants. 

Finding What Makes Your Heart Smile

Restaurants have Sunday football drink specials. There’s an entire cable network that employs people who do nothing but analyze videos of other people playing football. My son saves his allowance to buy the jerseys of men who play a game. Every year he asks for an updated version of a video game where he controls the men who play the game and I make sure it’s wrapped under the tree. 

So when (mostly) women and girls spend time tracking the relationship of an artist they admire what do we do? We mock and tease and say, “don’t you have something better to do?” We’ve posted some videos about my new interest in Taylor Swift’s relationship status. There are so many comments with people of all ages who lovingly admit they, too, are spending time online watching multiple angles of ‘the kiss’. Still others have written:  

“This is a cult” 

“You need to find a better use of your time”

“Make a video about all the people who don’t care about this”

“I can’t believe with everything happening in the world this is what you’re thinking about”

The last comment is precisely why I think my middle-aged brain loves this real-life romcom playing out in front of me. The utter devastation and imagery coming out of the Israel-Gaza war feels like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me. Furthermore, both Jewish and Palestinian friends here have experienced direct hate and persecution. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in my lifetime and I feel completely helpless. 

I read and listen to the news and I’m trying to educate myself on the history of this conflict. In order to maintain the loose grasp I already have on my mental health, my therapist recommended I also indulge in joy. She says I will burn out and recommended finding moments that make my heart smile. 


Letting People Find Happiness

I am on so many text strings with smart, talented women in which we are just sending each other different angles of a post-concert kiss. We write things like, “I love this for her!” and “She deserves this!” It’s as if we’re all watching the same, sweet Hallmark movie play on our screens at the same time. 

Before seeing the Eras tour this summer with my daughter, I would have called myself a fan of Taylor Swift but I wouldn’t have fallen into the category of full-fledged Swiftie. My husband, technically, was more of a fan because he’s always been in awe of her prolific songwriting abilities. I joined the frenzied fandom when my daughter insisted I memorize song lyrics on her setlist. Lola and I would spend every car ride reciting the words of Swift’s songs. She laughed at me while I struggled and had to repeat lyrics like I was going to be tested: 

And I ain’t trying to mess with your self-expression

But I’ve learned the lesson that stressin’

And obsessin’ ’bout somebody else is no fun

And snakes and stones never broke my bones so

And then, when I saw her perform and witnessed the community she’s created in her fan base. I understood the devotion. Listen, I get it. If you’re a hardcore football fan, you may not want to see the same shot of a celebrity you don’t follow after every play. That’s a valid critique. I’m also guessing Taylor Swift doesn’t want to be filmed – she wants to watch her boyfriend do his job. 

I’m not asking that people match my admiration for Taylor Swift, I’m just asking they not mock my interests. In a time when there’s so much conflict, can we just let people have some happiness wherever they find it? 

Be right back, I’m going to find out Taylor’s latest surprise song.