From breakups, to make-ups, Taylor Swift is never short of a valuable life lesson. And her inspiring speech at the Teen Choice Awards proved exactly why her wisdom holds universal appeal.
If there’s a valuable lesson to be learned about life, love and discovering your true identity, you can always turn to Taylor Swift for answers.
But while we’ll happily while away a weekend diving into T-Swift’s archive circa 2008, when the country vibe was as strong as the lyrics on heartbreak, dreaming big and beginning all over again, the pop star is no stranger to sharing her life lessons off stage too. This year, on the run up to her 30th birthday in December, we’ve been blessed with all sorts of gems, such as cultivating our self-esteem offline, celebrating our female friendships, and using our voices to influence change.
Over the weekend, the pop singer took the mic once more to spread her wisdom as she accepted the inaugural Icon Award at the Teen Choice Awards.
Beginning her speech, Swift paid tribute to the World Cup-winning US women’s soccer team, who are currently battling a federal lawsuit against the US Federation for equal pay, encouraging the audience to raise their voices in support of the boundary-breaking players.
“Please, please, please support (Morgan) and her teammates, because this isn’t over yet,” said Swift. “It’s not resolved. Get online, talk about it, let people know how you feel about it, because what happened to them is unfair, it’s happening everywhere, and they are heroes and icons for standing up.”
Swift is right, of course. We all have the power to challenge the political narrative through our day-to-day behaviours, and digital activism has given us new ways to organise and protest. Whether we’re sharing our stories through hashtags, signing petitions, or joining Facebook campaigns, our online actions can effect real-life change.
But Swift also had an important message about accepting our imperfections, telling the crowd that “mistakes are inevitable.”
“I think one thing I wish I would’ve known as a teen is that mistakes are inevitable,” she continued. “Sometimes you think if you try hard enough to make every decision perfectly, you think you can possibly, like, ace life, and never make any mistakes. But it’s normal to make mistakes, and I just want you to know that if you’re out there, and you’re being really hard on yourself right now for something that’s happened, or messing up, or feeling embarrassed, it’s normal. That’s what’s going to happen to you in life.
“No one gets through unscathed,” she added. “We’re all gonna have a few scratches on us. We’re living in an insane time, please be kind to yourselves and stand up for yourself, please.”
In a society that conditions us to strive for perfection in every realm of our lives, it’s difficult to admit when we’ve messed up, even if it’s part of the perfectly normal and healthy learning process of life. But by freeing mistakes from the associations of shame, guilt and sadness in our minds, we can begin to understand that they are in fact valuable life lessons in disguise, and are an integral part of our growth to become better version of ourselves.
So, if you’ve made a mistake recently, take the time to come to terms with it. But remember that it doesn’t define who you are. Tomorrow, it might well become the inspiration you need to achieve something great.