it’s gonna be okay

taylor swift 1989 cover

Confession: I did not take this photo.

Life is much more pleasant when you’re willing to lower your standards.

When I was in 6th and 7th grade, I was one of the mean popular girls. For various reasons I was ousted from – and kinda voluntarily retired – from that clique full of preppy jerk faces, and found myself with no other acceptable clique to join. I “dated” a kid named Bobby who liked me because he thought I was into heavy metal – not sure how he got that idea – and two days later we “broke up.” Lost and lonely, I took up writing, met someone who became a lifelong high school-only friend, and entered my goth/industrial years.

I bought custom-made corsets, dyed my hair every color but blue (which would have looked better than black since I have blonde eyebrows, but whatever), tried to pierce my own nose, and generally got into a lot of trouble. This was the 90s and alternative music was the popular music of its day, but I still managed to like music that no one else but my goth friends listened to: Skinny Puppy, Type-O Negative, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, VNV Nation. You get the idea. I fully embraced my adolescent world full of angst and discomfort. I did things that could have gotten me suspended. I threatened to sue my high school. I won almost every battle and arrived in New York with a delusional sense of grandeur, similar to Kim Jong-un. I was used to always winning, always succeeding, and most importantly, never listening to Dave Matthews or Squirrel Nut Zippers, ‘N Sync, or Britney Spears. Oh, don’t get me started on the talentless and hideous Britney Spears.

A lot has changed since then, most notably in my choice of hair color (i.e. au natural, including the grey!) and taste in music. I still love Nine Inch Nails and have a soft spot in my heart for Morissey even though he deflates the air in any room, but recently I’ve taken to liking what I consider to be good pop music. Honestly, who can deny the catchy power of Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, or Katy Perry? The songs may be vapid, but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with having some fun, girls.

I do try to keep my love of popular music under wraps, however, since I have sophisticated friends with Masters’ degrees in things like English literature, clinical psychology, and linguistics. I also have friends who make their own cheese, eat only what they can grow in their organic gardens, and shop at natural foods coops because it’s fun to spend $6 on a box of cereal. They look down on Whole Foods. You know what? Whole Foods is awesome. There. I said it. Not only have I embraced popular culture; I’ve also embraced that shining beacon of yuppie culture. I no longer go out of my way to make things harder on myself (unless I’m climbing a mountain, but that’s different). I’ve accepted the relentless value of targeted Amazon ads following me around like sick puppy dogs until I take them and feed them buy something. But I also read a lot of historical nonfiction, follow politics semi-closely, and sort of speak a couple languages. So really I’m a little bit of a savant, if the definition of a savant is that you’re not super great at any one thing, which it isn’t.

I’ll break this down: it’s okay to like both Lady Gaga and Phillip Glass. There are so many real struggles to be had. If the only awful habit you have is listening to Bruno Mars instead of Prince, you’re gonna be okay.

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