Taylor Swift: Precocious Talent and Self-determination

Taylor Swift - RED tour2013Taylor Swift On Feminism

“As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities.

“What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means.

“For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all.

“Becoming friends with Lena [Dunham, creator of HBO series Girls] – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realise that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”

On gender bias and misogyny

“I really resent the idea that if a woman writes about her feelings, she has too many feelings.

“And I really resent the ‘Be careful, buddy, she’s going to write a song about you’ angle, because it trivialises what I do. It makes it seem like creating art is something you do as a cheap weapon rather than an artistic process.

“They can say whatever they want about my personal life because I know what my personal life is, and it involves a lot of TV and cats and girlfriends. But I don’t like it when they start to make cheap shots at my songwriting. Because there’s no joke to be made there.”

From article: Taylor Swift: ‘Sexy? Not on my radar’ by Hermione Hoby, The Guardian, 22 August 2014.

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Video: “All Access:” Taylor Swift (2009)

Seeing a TV bio of Taylor Swift a while ago, I was very struck by her self-assurance and belief in her abilities from an early age, and her assertiveness to realize her exceptional musical talents.

In her performance at the CMA Awards (the 44th annual Country Music Association Awards, 2010), she impressed me even more with her confident presence and grace – and talent.

In fourth grade, she won a national poetry contest with her poem “Monster In My Closet.”

At eleven, she went to Nashville to try to get a record deal by distributing a demo tape of her singing to every label on Music Row..

She started writing songs and playing 12-string guitar at age twelve. At fifteen, she “rejected a development deal with RCA Records because the company refused to allow her to record her own songs.” [Info from Wikipedia.]

A profile in The Week magazine (March 20, 2009) notes, “Taylor Swift is determined to avoid the pitfalls that have tripped up other precocious stars, says Matt Allen in Q.

“The key, says the 19-year-old country music phenom, is to stay focused on her art and to always remember that the myriad distractions that attend fame and wealth are just that—distractions.

“Such determination has been apparent since she was a musical prodigy growing up in Hendersonville, Tenn. “When I was 13, I was told that country music didn’t appeal to anybody other than 35-year-old women. I decided to prove them wrong.’

“So Swift began grinding out songs, playing guitar so relentlessly that her fingers bled. She turned down invitations to dances and other typical teenage activities if it meant missing a gig.”

Home schooled and avoiding destructive habits

“She graduated high school with a 4.0 grade-point average after finishing her junior and senior years in just 12 months of home-schooling. Swift still leaves nothing to chance, saying she neither drinks nor smokes—nor is she tempted to.”

An interview in The Independent [UK] adds more:

Taylor Swift“I don’t drink because I don’t really feel like it. It’s not like I judge people who do [or that] I don’t hang out with people who drink. I just don’t really feel like it. Plus, it’s not [been] legal.”

Does she not like being out of control?

“I think that the reason I haven’t really experimented with drinking is because I don’t like to feel like I might say something that could hurt somebody’s feelings. Or I might come off in a way that I can’t control. Maybe I should just lighten up!” she says, smiling.

“But for me, I just kind of do what feels right.” She insists that, “I don’t live by all these rigid, weird rules that make me feel all fenced in. I just like the way that I feel like, and that makes me feel very free.”

Songwriting, she says, her eyes shining with bliss, is her other liberation. “I write songs to figure out how to feel about something. And then that helps me get past it. I’ve been writing songs since I was 12, and when I started I would write about how my days at school were really lonely. And I would get through those days by saying to myself, ‘It’s OK cos I can write a song about this later, and then I’ll feel better.’

“I’ve applied that saying and that phrase and that thought process to my entire life and every single intense shocking, nationally televised curveball that has happened.”

[From Taylor Swift: ‘Maybe I should just lighten up’ By Craig Mclean, The Independent, 24 October 2010]

There are, of course, many other examples of highly talented young women with focus, drive and assurance.

Maybe you can think of examples.

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Related site: Women and Talent



  1. I love the fact that Taylor Swift chooses to avoid destructive habits. I hope that little girls everywhere look-up to her as a role model. I haven’t always been perfect, but I am always striving to do better when it comes to personal growth.

    Blair Singer, from his book “Little Voice Mastery,” has taught me how to maintain my power in any pressure situation. I love it! It has all ready bumped up my professionalism in my work. I went to his web site yesterday and found that he is even offering a free chapter in pdf or mp3 form.

What do you think about these topics?