Taking a Page out of Taylor Swift’s Book

Real life is a funny thing, you know. I think most of us fear reaching the end of our life and looking back regretting the moments we didn’t speak up. When we didn’t say ‘I love you’. When we should have said ‘I’m sorry’. So there’s a time for silence, and there’s a time for waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you’ll know it. I don’t think you should wait. I think you should speak now.

The above is an excerpt from Taylor Swift’s Speak Now tour speech and it’s something that stuck to me after all this time. In fact, even her entire letter on her Speak Now album resonates with me. I’m adding her entire opening on her Speak Now album because it’s something that I think people should read – regardless if they’re a Taylor Swift fan or not. Honestly, it’s something I try to remember when I find myself shying away from opportunities or conversations just because I want to project an image of myself that I think I should be, and not who I really am. It helped me stop over-analyzing and over-thinking every single thing and maybe it’ll give you something to think about.

‘Speak now or forever hold your peace’, the words said by preachers at the end of wedding ceremonies all over the world, right before the vows. It’s a last chance for protest, a moment that makes everyone’s heart race, and a moment I’ve always been strangely fascinated by. So many fantasize about bursting into a church, saying what they’d kept inside for years like in the movies. In real life, it rarely happens.

Real life is a funny thing, you know. In real life, saying the right thing at the right moment is beyond crucial. So crucial, in fact, that most of us start to hesitate, for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But lately what I’ve began to fear more than that is letting the moment pass without saying anything.

I think most of us fear reaching the end of our life, and looking back regretting the moments we didn’t speak up. When we didn’t say ‘I love you’. When we should’ve said ‘I’m sorry’. When we didn’t stand up for ourselves or someone who needed help.

These songs are made up of words I didn’t say when the moment was right in front of me. These songs are open letters. Each is written with a specific person in mind, telling them what I meant to tell them in person. To the beautiful boy whose heart I broke in December. To my first love who I never thought would be my first heartbreak. To my band. To a mean man I used to be afraid of. To someone who made my world very dark for a while. To a girl who stole something of mine. To someone I forgive for what he said in front of the whole world.

Words can break someone into a million pieces, but they can also put them back together. I hope you use yours for good, because the only words you’ll regret more than the ones left unsaid are the ones you use to intentionally hurt someone.

What you say might be too much for some people. Maybe it will come out all wrong and you’ll stutter and you’ll walk away embarrassed, wincing as you play it all back in your head. But I think the words you stop yourself from saying are the ones that will haunt you the longest.

So say it to them. Or say it to yourself in the mirror. Say it in a letter you’ll never send or in a book millions might read someday. I think you deserve to look back on your life without a chorus of resounding voices saying ‘I could’ve, but it’s too late now.’

There is a time for silence. There is a time waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you need to say, you’ll know it.

I don’t think you should wait. I think you should speak now.

Love, Taylor

I decided to share this on my blog because I’ve been thinking back to the past years of my life. On the things I have said and I should have not. On the things I haven’t said and I should have. On the things I did and should have not. On the things I didn’t do and should have.

On the times I should’ve said ‘yes’ but instead said ‘no’ because I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting. On the times I should have said ‘no’ but instead said ‘yes’ because I don’t want to come across as lazy or selfish. On the times I said ‘maybe next time’ just because I don’t want to step even an inch away from my very small comfort zone. On the times I said ‘I’m fine’ even if I know that I really am not. On the times I didn’t say ‘I love you’ because I think I’m too cool for it and because no one else is doing it. Now I feel so awkward saying it because I’m just used not to. On the times I said ‘No, thank you’ when asked if I want this or that just because it’s been drilled into me even if I most certainly want some. On the times I haven’t said ‘Sorry’ because I prioritized my embarrassment over forgiveness. On the times I haven’t spoken up when seeing a wrongdoing because I’ve been told to keep my head down and avoid trouble. On the times I brush off compliments on my achievements because I don’t want to look arrogant. On the times I intentionally hurt someone with my words just because they have hurt me at one time.

What I’ve learn is that I regret most of the times that I haven’t spoken up and decided to keep my head down; or the times I have spoken up with a malice intention. I regret following the social norms that tells you to do this even if you want to do that. I regret turning a blind eye on some instances because the majority do it, too. What I’ve also learned is that it is not too late to start doing it now.

I’ve learned to be vocal on my thoughts and opinions now. Though it doesn’t come with that small voice telling me to just lay low. I’ve been in arguments with friends just because of different views and even severed off some ties because I realized that I no longer need toxic people in my life. I give away ‘thank you’s and ‘I’m sorry’s so frequently and I haven’t felt lighter in my life. I’ve spoken out against conductors who insisted that my seatmate paid 20 when it was 50 even if it end up with me getting the stink eye. I’ve told people that they have hurt me instead of just shrugging it off.

I can still count how many times I have said ‘I love you’ to my family but I’m working on it. And heck, maybe one day I’ll be the first to say ‘I like you’ to a guy when it comes that point.