Author's Note: In anticipation of those reviewers who will say the language in this letter sounds like a low-budget Charles Dickens adaptation threw up all over the screen, that was an intentional artistic decision and I'm sorry in advance if it affronts your eyes. Feel free to rip it to shreds but to be honest, I don't care about this piece very much and I probably won't edit it.
I'm writing to you from the trenches of former fan-hood. I have eagerly awaited every one of your albums, defended you to my brother, resisted from joining the narrative surrounding you as you became more and more problematic. But the past few years, you have egregiously disappointed me, from the abuse of your white privilege, to your refusal to acknowledge the way you wield your victimhood like a weapon. Entire doctoral theses could be drafted about the way you have abused your white privilege alone, so my true intention here is to talk about your victimhood, and how its weaponization has intolerably impinged on my ability to deal with my own. To start, Taylor, you have utterly failed me.
For the past two years, I have been the target of much harassment and outright bullying on my college campus. At first, it was well-deserved; I had dealt a grievous emotional blow to several former friends, and they enacted their just revenge. But when the torment continued from days to weeks to months and finally to years, I began to realize that, at some point, my penance would never abate their hatred. They wanted me to fight, Taylor. They wanted me to get angry and lash out at them, as they did to me. But I wouldn't. I wouldn't access that anger, not because I couldn't, but because I had before, and I alone knew of the havoc it could wreak.
So I didn't. I accepted their rumors, their lies, their taunts and insults without question, without judgment. I apologized at their behest, never bothering to bring to the table that all that they had done to me was incongruous to my own crimes; I didn't see it that way. I saw my punishment as a just one, and accepted it. But they were only all the more enraged, viewing my sackcloth and ashes routine as just that, and not for the genuine regret that it was. They insisted that I fight.
So there I was. At a crossroads, Taylor, like you were when your perceived enemies emerged from the woodwork to ruin your beloved reputation.
I could give them exactly what they asked for, and unleash all the rage of my 21 years on their heads, and earn the titles they had ascribed to me against my will. I could make their insults look like compliments compared to the things I could say of them, I could use all the power of my position on campus in SGA and all my talent for writing not only to destroy them, but to annihilate any idea of them being considered welcome anywhere, in any social circle, in any organization on campus, without my shadow following them like the curse of Cain.
I could, in short, become a force.
Or I could turn to forgiveness and love. I could move on and accept that no matter what I do, I can never be in the right in their eyes. If I reflect my inner turmoil and act like the victim I feel to be, they would be angry at what they perceived to be a facade. If I stop seeping in sorrow, they would accuse me of callous indifference to my sins. I could simply stop caring about the rumors they spread over campus like a cancer, and retreat into my own circle of trusted friends that have refused to believe them. I could forgive their inability to see me as anything but the flawed person I was when I hurt them deeply, and I did hurt them deeply, Taylor. I understand that the things they have done to me were done with the perception that they were doing the right thing, and that, given the misinformation and circumstances in which they were mired, I would have done the same.
And I have done all this as best as I can, regardless of whether they would believe it, and whether it always manifests in my daily interactions with people on campus. I have genuinely forgiven them, and though sometimes I find in my friends a platform for venting my grievances, I truly strive to make them understand, too, that I am no less in the right than my perceived aggressors. After having done everything I could to make up for the crimes I committed against them, I have resorted to staying out of their way and avoiding speaking of or to them in public. I have acknowledged and accepted my flaws, while continuing to improve upon them. I know I have been at fault. Do you?
You, Taylor, have succumbed to the darker side. You, who have barely known any aggression, and if you have, should have the maturity to realize that none of it matters when you are surrounded by people who love you, have decided to attack. You have attempted to utterly destroy the people who have only punished you justly for being intransigent and unforgiving when offenses real or imagined were brought to your attention, for using potential allies as speed bumps for the bus of public opinions, for lying and lying again when caught in your lies, and for using your victimhood as both a sword and a shield. Contrary to your strategy, most victims of bullying I know, those without your resources of confidence and revenge, do not want to be victims. They (insofar as I can be considered their voice) do not want to be perceived as using what has happened to them as a net to garner the sympathy of the broader public, as you do. While you wallow in your self-inflicted martyrdom, you harm those average people who are common victims of bullies. They are the ones who will pay the price for your folly by internalizing their anger, and making your rage their own. I am lucky enough not to count myself among them anymore, but there are countless millions who cannot say the same, and you do them a disservice.
If you think your punishment has not fit your crimes, that's natural. But if you think you are exempt from asking for forgiveness, you are sadly mistaken. If you think you can start over without ever addressing that which caused your end in the first place, you will never escape your "old Taylor," your own personal albatross. You have deliberately and tragically failed to show your world of fans how to embrace self-love and forgiveness in the face of a daily barrage of enemy fire. If you believe yourself to be truly maligned, you could have chosen to forgive and, if not forget, at least move on with the knowledge that you are flawed. What a redemption arc that would have been for you. It's not too late for that to be the truth.
But in the meantime, Taylor, not only you, but your fans will suffer from your hatred. I only hope they, like me, can turn away from anger and find the warm light at the end of the road to peace.
And I hope you find it, too, whether the public considers you worthy or not.
In the immortal words of Birdy, whose songs have sustained me in the absence of yours: "It's not giving up; it's getting over."