It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of Taylor Swift.
Her behavior goes beyond entitled teen pop sensation and actually borders on that of a sociopathic serial killer, ahem, dater. We enable this because it keeps resulting in stupidly catchy music, and like a horrific traffic accident, no one can pull themselves away from the soap opera that is Taylor Swift’s dating life.
I digress. This is not a hate post on Taylor. There’ll be plenty of time for that after she’s sued for musical harassment and nailed with a bunch of restraining orders. This is a post about reality. Her newest hit single off her album Red is entitled “22”. Red is responsible for such earworms as “I Knew You Were Trouble” (you really have no one to blame but yourself here) and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (you must be so over it if you wrote this song to prove it). Bridget had told me that the first time she heard “22” she hated it, but after that she loved it. Bridget is a dance coach – it’s kind of her job to have good taste in music – so I listened to it.
Then I listened to it again.
Then, for good measure, I listened to it one more time.
Typically when you listen to a Taylor Swift song three times in a row the song becomes permanently scorched into your internal soundtrack that plays when you analyze your life choices (luckily I’ve avoided this phenomenon so my personal reflections only invoke Carmina Burana: O Fortuna). However, listening to “22” three times in a row resulted in me wanting to beat Taylor over the head with my college diploma and stack of car payments.
The theme of “22” is – similarly to all of her songs – a special boy who makes her feel warm and fuzzy inside, which she equates to being 22 years old. In the Taylorverse, being 22 is a fairytale come to life, full of magic and dreams and fireworks and dancing and, of course, love. There aren’t problems or worries or sad, rainy days.
22 is The Best Thing Ever!
As someone who has just spent 364 consecutive days being 22, I can assure you this is not the case.
Which reminds me, this is my birthday post.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all sad clown and lament with pitiful angst how being 22 ruined my life. Given my life experience to date, I doubt 22 will be my worst year ever (here’s looking at you, forty), but it was absolutely not a fairytale.
See, being 22 isn’t realizing that “everything will be alright if I’m next to [a boyfriend I haven’t gotten tired of yet].” Being 22 is realizing that you’re expected to be an adult, but absolutely no one is going to treat you like one. Yes, no one wants to listen to a song about the harsh reality of growing up and going out into the real world, but Taylor used her Get-Out-of-Bullshit-Free card when she tried to convince everyone that Romeo and Juliet had a happy ending.
At 22, young kids acknowledge that you’re older than them, but not as old as their parents which voids your authority. The same goes for middle and high schoolers. College students see you as a peer, which is fair since you probably spent at least a portion of 22 still in college. Older twenty-somethings think it’s adorable that you think you’re a real person, which is painfully reminiscent of being a freshman. Finally, anyone over the age of thirty will act like you have the attention span and understanding of an infantile gnat while giving you the responsibilities and pressures of a very human adult.
Of course there are exceptions to every single thing I just said, but if Taylor Swift gets to write blanket statements that every relationship is one for the ages and every break-up should have killed her, I get to write a blanket statement that 22 is the great void between universes.
22 is volatile. The first few months is the last time in your life that the only thing you have to worry about is studying for a test and what you’re going to wear out to the bars on Friday night.
Then life starts.
22 is when people move out on their own and start not just jobs, but careers. New cars are bought, mortgages to buy houses are borrowed, and student loan payments are collected. People get engaged and married and start having kids at 22. And while all that’s happening, strangers trying to make small talk on the train ask you if you’ve decided what college you want to go to next year.
Now do I really think 23 is going to loads better than 22?
Of course not, but at least Blink-182 already set my musical expectations for the next year: “nobody likes you when you’re 23.”
22 is a confusing, chaotic, and frustrating 365 days. So actually, it kind of makes sense why Taylor would relate it to one of her relationships.