Let’s just say that I never thought that Taylor Swift and I would have much in common. Other than both being of the female persuasion, her life is rather different from mine. But recently I discovered how much we share.
Read on, please. I haven’t lost my mind comparing myself to Taylor Swift. Honest.
As is our custom on long car trips, my husband does the driving and I am in charge of the radio. As a former radio lawyer, I like to change the channels and hear the different programming formats. But last month as we inched up the turnpike towards New York City, where the radio choices are plentiful, we heard the same person singing the same song no matter what station we had on.
Turn to 97.1 – Taylor Swift – “Shake it Off”
And on 100.3 – Taylor Swift – “Shake it Off”
Change to 101.9 – Taylor Swift – “Shake it Off”
Then listen to 103.9 – Taylor Swift – “Shake it Off”
My husband told me he had never heard of Taylor Swift. And when pressed, admitted to his belief that Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Brittany Spears are the same person. Don’t ask.
I know better. And while I wouldn’t say I am a fan of the young country to pop star, I agree that the melody of her latest hit song is quite catchy. After hearing it no less than 10 times in 10 minutes, my husband and I both knew the words by heart.
So as the new skyline of lower Manhattan came into view, we were singing:
“‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off.”
And we were moving to the music too, as best as you can do while seated, (apologies here to the people in the other cars on the George Washington Bridge who may have looked over and saw the two of us, well past middle-age, actuarially speaking, bouncing in our seats. And yes, my husband did have his hands on the steering wheel most of the time.)
Have you listened to her lyrics? Three minutes and thirty-nine seconds of telling her detractors that they can say whatever they want about her, she is just going to shake it off. With a sense of humor. Using music to tell the world that it can’t get under her skin.
Taylor Swift has figured this out at age 24. It has taken me a lot longer to realize that while I can’t stop others from criticizing me, I can (and should) shake it off.
Like Taylor Swift, I have had and still have plenty of detractors. Hers are public, mine (until now at least!) are more private but criticism is criticism. We are the kind of people who just seem to attract it, like ducks take to the water.
For me, unlike Ms. Swift, it isn’t my music or my hair or the way I dress. My critics are ones who don’t care for my personality, mostly, because they think I talk too much (true), can be a bit (a bit?) abrasive and have very little filter (if I ever had one) on my communication abilities. I am known for making inappropriate comments.
(I define “inappropriate” as when you say what you really think at a time when other people are thinking the exact same thing but just don’t say it aloud.) What I find humorous, others may not.
And unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I have been happily married for 36 years to someone who has absolutely no detractors. Never has, never will. My good-natured husband, the former president of his high school class, captain of athletic teams, Mr. Popularity himself, is liked by everyone he knows and by every person he has ever met and no doubt if you were to meet him, you would like him too.
So while I am an Acquired Taste, my husband is Universally Loved. And I am reminded of this with some frequency. Family and friends like to “joke” and express their sympathy to my husband, often while I am standing right next to him, for having to put up with me all these years. Ha, ha, hilarious. Not.
Of course, no one knows what really goes on inside a marriage. But here’s a hint: my husband likes me the way I am. He appreciates my sense of humor, my candor and has long since become inured to my verbal ability to get myself into trouble, to my “talk before you think” approach to life. And he helps me “shake it off” when criticism, constructive or otherwise, comes my way.
Some years ago we were at a holiday office party at the well-appointed, not a hair out-of-place home of a Very Senior Partner at my law firm where they had an incongruous bowl of animal stickers on the table as you entered their living room. We were instructed to select a sticker of the animal we most resembled. Without much thinking (a key trait of mine) I picked a sticker of a duck and stuck it on my dress.
Why a duck, I now look back and ask? My instinctive choice was of an animal that had a large bill (you get what body part that is), one where the female of the species makes louder noises than the male (yup) and who has special feathers with a waxy coating that keep its underlayer of downy feathers dry.
See, Taylor? Shaking it off is a complex biological technique of staying dry despite the criticism. And be reassured that I am not comparing you to a duck. To a swan maybe. You can be the swan and I will stick with the duck. But we both can shake it off.
You do it. I can too.
(p.s. it has come to my attention that the photo above may be of a male duck, not a female one, but you get the idea.)