13 years ago I was a 13-year old girl hugging Taylor Swift. A singer I was enamored by. From her lyrics, to her guitar-playing to her personality, I could not get enough. I looked up to her. I wanted to be just like her.
I vividly remember sitting in a crowd of maybe 100 people (including my dad) on Mt. Sequoyah and enjoying every minute. I would’ve sat there for hours singing along! She promised to stay afterwards and meet everyone who came and sign whatever we brought. Of course I had her sign my copy of her Taylor Swift cd! Still one of my favorite possessions, y’all!
As amazing as the concert was, and getting a signed cd, there was one major moment that made this night so memorable for me.
I got to have an actual conversation with Taylor…and it changed my entire life.
I knew that Taylor had taught herself to play guitar and wrote all of her own songs and I wanted to know, how? How did she teach herself to play guitar and was it hard? Did writing songs come easy to her? Could I teach myself and chase my dreams too? So, I asked her.
Taylor paused, looked me in the eye and said, “Just go for it. Try your best and chase whatever dreams you have. If you want to learn to play guitar, look at videos on YouTube and practice everyday. If you like writing, write something every single day to practice those skills. Don’t worry if you’re not perfect at first. Just don’t give up on yourself!”
Y’all, the very next day I had a guitar in my hand and taught myself the chords to her song “Tim McGraw”. I started practicing every chance I got, wrote songs every day (i hope those are never found haha), and most importantly, I found the confidence to do whatever I set my mind to.
13 years later, I still play my guitar occasionally and I’m still writing all the time. Only now my writings are more blog post format than song lyrics. It isn’t only my writing style that changed though. These days my confidence in knowing myself and my ability to accomplish my dreams just isn’t as strong as when I was that innocent, bright-eyed 13 years old girl. Insecurities and comparison have crept in and clouded my view of who I am, what I’m capable of.
Life has a way of stealing those little moments from you. You don’t even realize what is missing until you pause to look back at your younger self and wonder, where has she gone? It’s not that you don’t like the woman you are right now, just that you miss the innocence, the wild dreaming, the “I can and I will do anything I set my mind to” attitude from your youth. As you experience life, you naturally grow and adapt, become wiser and a little more guarded. Priorities shift and those wild dreams sometimes become just that, dreams.
Taylor’s advice went far beyond just guitars and song lyrics, though. It stuck with me when I got pregnant my senior year, worked 2 jobs and still graduated with my peers. It stuck with me when through rough college exams and long clinical days, reminding me to keep going. And even now, it’s still tucked in my memory encouraging me to keep writing, even when I’m not sure what I’m doing. I have refused to give up on myself, and that has made all the difference.
Looking at the girl in this picture I am reminded of how much I can accomplish when I stop worrying about measuring up or being successful. When I stop wondering if anyone really cares what I have to say and just write it all anyway.
I’m reminded that the younger me would be wildly proud of the woman I am today, simply because I’m doing my best and refusing to give up on my dreams.
What can you learn from your younger self this morning? I’ll bet she is just as crazy proud of who you are too, friend.