The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

Listen Up

I heart Taylor Swift

In the 17 years I’ve been on this earth, there are three distinct days I refer to as the days my life really started. The first was the literal start of my life: August 15, 2005. The second was September 3, 2018, the day before my first day of middle school, when my dad downloaded all six Taylor Swift albums onto my laptop. The third was March 23, 2020, the day I first picked up a guitar.

The first date really needs no explanation. I was born smack dab in the middle of the summer, landing me with one of those birthdays where none of your friends are around because of summer travels. I was content with only having my family. At least, I was back then. This changed drastically in March of 2020, but we’ll get to that later.

The second date is interesting. It’s less of a specific moment and more of a moment that led to a bunch of other moments all strung together. I can vividly remember walking down the stairs and seeing my father hovering over my laptop, which was sitting on our dining room table. The room was dim and the screen cast a sharp, bright light onto his face.

I peered over his shoulder to see the six classic album covers. Now, I have been a fan of Taylor Swift since third grade. My parents purchased an autographed guitar from an auction, and around the same time my aunt scored six tickets to Taylor Swift’s “1989” tour. Only a few months before my dad downloaded the albums, I had gone to the “Reputation” stadium tour and had my mind absolutely blown. It was the perfect time for an obsession, which blossomed that very day.

I was able to memorize every lyric of those six albums within a month. It was all I listened to, and so rest assured that I listened a lot. Prancing around my room with headphones on, I mimed a microphone and sometimes even a guitar.

It was around this time when I decided to dust off that signed guitar and learn to play. I found the chords to Taylor’s song “Teardrops on My Guitar,” and got about halfway through the verse when I realized playing guitar was not that easy after all. The perfectionist inside me crumbled. How was I not automatically a music prodigy? That night, I had a full on meltdown in my parents’ bedroom. My mother suggested I take lessons, which only made me cry more. I was young, shy, and terrified of one-on-one lessons with a complete stranger. The reality of the situation was clear—if I couldn’t take lessons, I couldn’t play guitar. I immediately quit.

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, I didn’t actually quit. Two years later, in March of 2020, we went into lockdown. We all know what happened, so I’ll spare you the details. Remember that birthday story I told you? Turns out, I actually hate being alone. Is there a word stronger than hate? If so, you can replace the word hate with that word. Deprived of social interaction, I needed an outlet to combat my intense feelings of loneliness. Inevitably, I turned to music.

I had been listening to this newer artist named Conan Gray. He had just released his heavily Swift-inspired debut album, and I fell in love with track ten, “Heather.” After three days of nonstop listening, I charged downstairs, dusted off the guitar, and gave it one more try.

And, magically, it worked. Well, maybe not magically. What I failed to see at the time was that the song had a capo on the 7th fret, making it easier for me to push down on the strings. I could then instead focus on the chord transitions and strumming. I arrived at a place where I felt somewhat confident, that, just maybe, I could do this.

Three years down the line, I can now look back and smile. It was really by chance that I had chosen a song with the capo that far up on the fretboard. I like to call it fate.

While it would’ve been satisfying for this to be a story of overcoming my perfectionism, it is most definitely not. But, it did serve as a meaningful lesson. There is never going to be only one way to do things. Also, taking an easier route doesn’t mean you’re being lazy. A good amount of the time, it’ll keep you from giving up entirely, which in my opinion, is way lazier. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, but you’ll also probably miss a couple if you immediately try to do trick shots.

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