Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Months later, I'm still thinking about this one song

Even though the song was popular several months ago, something about Taylor Swift's 'Fifteen' really hits an emotional nerve in me, and not in a good way.

It's this song that's supposed to resonate with American girls everywhere, and though there are countless songs to which I can't really relate, this one is the ultimate example. It bothers me more than her more stylized 'Love Story' because it rings so true. So true to all the books I read, about girls who felt different, and/or supposedly were 'weird and unpopular' (yet somehow all of them went to some kind of traditional school and had at least two friends who they saw on a near-daily basis). Not true to ANY of the life I've known. I've always lived outside that social construct, never spent enough time with anyone of my own who did, to really believe in it as anything other than mostly fiction.

Taylor Swift's music is supposed to be appealing because it's so relatable, so fresh and honest, yet 'Fifteen'  seems to be peddling the Hollywood idea of young adulthood which I've always believed is mostly a myth.
And all the logic, protestations, internet ridicule for 'expecting the world to be all about me' or explanations that I'm really not missing much, are missing the point and don't make me feel any better about the song. This song brings into sharp emotional focus, how I feel about this young adult world: what bothers me is not that I never got to experience these things, but I never had the choice, or the chance to find out if what's written in the song is remotely realistic.


You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors
It's the morning of your very first day
You say "Hi" to your friends you ain't seen in a while
Try and stay out of everybody's way
It's your freshman year and you're gonna be here
For the next four years in this town
Hoping one of those senior boys will wink at you and say
"You know I haven't seen you around, before"
 (Among many things I don't regret, never having had a 'first day of school' is one of them. Never had 'friends' I saw more than a few times a year. Never had groups of boys to have a nervous hopeful feeling about, either. This last may or may not be a good thing.)

'cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen
Feeling like there's nothing to figure out
Well count to ten, take it in
This is life before you know who you're gonna be
(By 'someone' I think she means 'boys' and boy did I never have a boy tell me he loved me at fifteen. Still haven't, and probably never will. I'm not lamenting, it's just how it is.)

You sit in class next to a redhead named Abigail
And soon enough you're best friends
Laughing at the other girls who think they're so cool
We'll be out of here as soon as we can
And then you're on your very first date and he's got a car
And you're feeling like flying
And your momma's waiting up and you think he's the one
And you're dancing round your room when the night ends
When the night ends
(Best friends as opposed to what? No friends? I have never been able to comprehend the idea of having more than one friend; it was the realm of books and movies which we all know, are the prettified version of life. In books, if you're lucky, you have 'only' five friends you see on a regular basis. In what I've understood as real life, you're lucky if you have one friend you see more than three times a year. And the description of the 'first date' sounds like a complete and total fantasy, a myth invented by the media to sell to love-hungry teenagers longing for more than their lonely life. Sincerely, what fifteen-year-old boy actually has a car these days, and since when do girls actually dance around their rooms after going out with one? Classic Hollywood movie material to be sure, but that doesn't mean it happens often.)

'cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
When you're fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin round but
In your life you'll do things greater than dating the boy of the football team
But I didn't know it at fifteen
(Never had a first kiss and never have had dreams of dating football boys. But I bet REAL first kisses are usually highly awkward and vaguely embarrassing affairs, not wonderful ones.)

When all you wanted was to be wanted
Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now
Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday
But I realized some bigger dreams of mine
And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy
Who changed his mind and we both cried
(Ok, wanting to feel wanted by people who don't have to love me has been a huge problem for me lately, so I'll give the song that one first line. But the marriage bit really bugs me. Bigger dreams than marriage, huh? It's a prime example of this idiotic culture, which deifies romantic love yet devalues marriage as something a woman does if she has nothing more important to do--like have a career. As for best friend Abigail, one would think that a writer who seems to trivialize marriage, would have a similar attitude about sexual purity instead of describing it as 'everything she had'. Or maybe that's how Abigail saw it, but if that's the case, it's muddled writing.)

'cause when you're fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You're gonna believe them
And when you're fifteen, don't forget to look before you fall
Ive found that time can heal most anything
And you just might find who you're supposed to be
I didn't know who I was supposed to be at fifteen
(I can't even begin to comprehend this chorus. I'm sure it's full of great and specific meaning to  the person who wrote it, but to me, it's a bunch of  emotional gobbledygook. I think I had a better idea of who I was supposed to be at fifteen than I do now, and years of time haven't healed what really needs healing.)


Hearttohearts said...

Just because you never experienced those things doesn't mean that nobody ever has. That song described pretty much my high school experience. It rings very true for me and a lot of people that I know

bukesova180 said...
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bukesova180 said...

I haven't experienced those things in high school either, maybe in my dreams when I was bored. I don't regret it though. However, I met my first love in high school, we are still together.

I was never interested in football boys either, they never seemed intelligent enough. And I have to agree on the subject of first kisses. Its always very awkward for the first time. It feels great after though. I felt like I could fly.

Bright Circle said...
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Bright Circle said...

Heart, that's so weird! It's like talking to somebody out of a book.
But it doesn't really matter if it's real for some people or not--what really bothers me is that I never had the CHOICE to even have the chance to find out if it's a common experience. To find out if a majority of American girls experience it like the song acts like, or a tiny minority.

Hearttohearts said...

bright circle, that's one of my arguments against home schooling

Southern Belle said...

When you're home schooled most or all of your life, you do miss out on things such as what this song is talking about. In my opinion, I think it is a common thing. Maybe not the WHOLE song, but most of it.

Bright Circle said...

That is a highly-misinformed argument against homeschooling, not to mention indication of questionable priorities. From what I've heard, my experience was the exception, NOT the usual. I think most homeschoolers these days have a comparable level of the oh-so-important 'socialization'. Which of course, doesn't mean general socialization, but socialization with the all-important Peer Age Group.

I never got the emphasis to the exclusion of much else, on spending so much time with one's age group. Why are they so much more important than any other age group?

REAL socialization should include spending significant times with ALL age groups, including but NOT exclusive to one's own.

Hearttohearts said...

like I said, it's *ONE* of my arguments, I'm not misinformed about it. And just so you know in school you're not socializing with only one age group