What Taylor Swift taught me about personal development

Taylor swift is a great performer. I can’t say that her music is exactly my cup of tea, but I can really appreciate the fact that she makes and delivers pop music that is fun and doesn’t insult her listeners. She has great videos and on all of her appearances, it’s easy to spot that she really enjoys what she is doing and makes a lot of fun doing it.

I wouldn’t expect though that listening to any of her songs would teach me something about personal growth. As much as her songs are catchy easy and fun, I don’t think that they have an incredible depth that would have you thinking of the song and analyzing it once it’s over.

Well, I guess I was wrong.

Candies

I don’t really follow Taylor Swift’s career or actions. we are in different circles, sort of speak, but if you haven’t been living under a rock in the past decade or so, you probably heard her name and heard some of her songs.

She’s incredibly successful. She has 5 albums, won tons of awards and even did a few minor roles in various films. Her most popular videos on youtube have close to 2 Billion views (yep, that’s not a typo). So I think it’s safe to say she is currently a part of the A list of artists in the world.

Her songs are very easy and fun to listen to. They are also not incredibly deep and
thought-provoking, so it’s no wondercandies millions around the world love them. Most of her hits are like candies. They are fun, tasty, you want more of them, but if you only lived on them for nourishment, you would probably end up dead.

The songs do speak about life and relationships, but I can’t say that I heard any song of hers that speaks about personal growth or reflects the nature of life. Except one.

Shake it off

“Shake it off”  is a part of Swift’s last album “1989“. It currently has 1.9 Billion views on youtube.

I probably wouldn’t have heard about it unless it was casually played in the office I currently work in. Once it started someone saw the number of views that the songs has, and was surprised. This started a whole discussion regarding Swift and her success.

Te first time the song played I haven’t really paid any particular notice of it, it sounded like just another pop music to me. After hearing the song for the second time and really listening to the words, it suddenly got me thinking that the song actually depicts a very important principal in personal growth and in living in general.

Since this comes from an artist who’s realm is the pop culture it’s easy to shrug it off as another flat pop song (that’s what I did at first) but I think that if you take a closer look at the words, it’s easily noticeable that the principle that Swift is talking about is really important to anyone who really wants to achieve something in life.

So in case you somehow missed this song, or don’t really understand what I’m talking about, here’s an analysis of the song line by line. You can see my interpretation in square brackets in red.


I stay out too late, got nothing in my brain
That’s what people say, that’s what people say
[People criticize me for not paying enough attention to the “real life”, and focusing on having fun]

I go on too many dates, but I can’t make them stay
At least that’s what people say, that’s what people say
[People criticize me for being too light-minded and can’t decide what I want]

But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
[But despite what people say, I follow my thought and don’t want to change that]

It’s like I got this music in my mind
Saying it’s gonna be alright
[something in me (intuition, infinite intelligence) says that everything is going to be alright, and I choose to believe it]

Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
[People who understand how the world really works, are going to continue to do what they do and succeed, and people who don’t would continue to do what they do and criticize]

Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
[I’m just going to shake all that noise off and continue to do what I feel in my mind to be the right way for me]

Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
[people would continue to do what they do and try to hurt others, let’s accept that]

Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
[I’m going to ignore all those people and won’t let their opinions affect me]

I never miss a beat, I’m lightning on my feet
And that’s what they don’t see, that’s what they don’t see
[Despite what people think I’m perfectly aware of what I’m doing. And I just want to move even faster. ]

I’m dancing on my own, I make the moves up as I go
And that’s what they don’t know, that’s what they don’t know
[I’m following my own tune. Don’t know where this will take me, but I know it will be good. Most people don’t understand what I’m doing]

But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop grooving
It’s like I got this music in my mind
Saying it’s gonna be alright
Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake

Taylor Swift

Credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
[see interpretation above]

Hey, hey, hey!

Just think while you’ve been getting down and out about the liars
And dirty, dirty cheats of the world you could’ve been getting down to this sick beat
[Instead of focusing on the bad, focus on the good]

My ex-man brought his new girlfriend
She’s like, “oh my God”, but I’m just gonna shake
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
Won’t you come on over, baby, we can shake, shake, shake
[Not everything that happens to me is good, but instead of seeing it as negative and focusing on it, I rather find the positive in it and move on]

Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I shake it off, I shake it off


Shaking it off

I think that what everybody can take from the song is that if you want to be free, and follow your own path, it’s important to learn to ignore the criticism and cynicism around.

If you want to go your own way there will be people criticizing you. It would probably disturb and annoy some people, and there will be people who intentionally or unintentionally try to discourage you from pursuing your path. It’s okay, they doing the only thing they know how to do and what they think is best for you.

You already know what is best for you, and all though you might not be able to explain or “defend” your actions, you just need to make the moves as you go and take the next step you feel is the step needed for you.

In other words, just shake it off and move on.

6 thoughts on “What Taylor Swift taught me about personal development

  1. Hey Ido,

    I’ve had the same thought about “Shake it Off.” It’s a great message. In fact, there’s a LOT to like about Taylor Swift, if you know her story. She broke into the business with her own songs (mostly, in Nashville, new artists are encouraged to record other people’s songs first, because it’s viewed as safer). I’m told she refused record deal offers that didn’t allow her to do her own thing. She stuck to her creative guns, and look what’s happened.

    Her music isn’t really my cup of tea, but I have an enormous amount of respect for her.

    Keep up the great work!

    Kevin

    • ido

      Never knew that about her.
      I think this only makes her even a bigger person. I’m sure that part of her success came from the fact that she stuck with her beliefs and had faith in herself. If you read Napoleon Hill’s “Think and grow rich” I think it’s possible to see traces of his philosophy in her actions, and in the song as well.

  2. Hi Ido, it is odd because I am not really a big fan Taylor Swift either, I do like some of her songs, but she probably would not be in my top 10, however, I absolutely love this song you have chosen and went through a period of singing it aloud all the time, and would turn up the radio when it came on, much to the annoyance of my girlfriend…

    I really like how you have paraphrased the lyrics with your own thoughts and views, you have made some very good observations.

    This is one of my favourites also:

    I never miss a beat, I’m lightning on my feet
    And that’s what they don’t see, that’s what they don’t see
    [Despite what people think I’m perfectly aware of what I’m doing. And I just want to move even faster. ]

    Best wishes

    Neil

    • ido

      Thanks, Niel!
      “Shake it off” is really catchy and fun to listen. I heard it countless times once I got acquainted 🙂

  3. It might be a ‘cutesy’ unit-shifter record, but it does have a strong message. Kudos to Ms Swift.
    I also read that she didn’t have a great time at school. I guess she has learnt to take criticism and negative words on the chin. Just like anyone should if they want to be successful.

    • ido

      I guess you’re right. Everything we experience in life prepares us to become our better versions, and Taylor’s story is a great example.

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