Day 35: What Taylor Swift Taught Me About My Business

Just over a year ago, I drove my mom and my son home from our trip to Universal in California. We had gone for Kayden’s 11th birthday, and on the way back I was drowsy. I stopped for a Pepsi and decided to crank some tunes I could sing to in order to wake me up and of course, I played some Taylor Swift. About three songs in, my mom said “I don’t get it. Why do people like her so much? All she does is sing about break ups.” The answer came rushing out of me because I am such a TS Fan Girl…

“Because she validates the feelings of millions of women. All those times we were humiliated, or heartbroken, or crushed… all those times we couldn’t find the words. She put our hearts into lyrics, reached out to us and said ‘I’ve felt that way too.'”  While talking about this, I started to cry. And so did my mom. Because through so much, Taylor and her music have been there, ready with the perfect words. She’s a part of my life. There is no other singer I can say that about.

A few months ago, I went to the opening night of her Reputation tour in Glendale, and on our way in we received bracelets that lit up during the show. “What’s this?” I asked the guy handing it to me.” Just put it on, Taylor will do the rest.” And with a little jump in my heart, I put it on. The should-have-been-40-minute drive to Glendale ended up taking us three hours because of the massive crowd that showed up, so we all but ran to our seats and slid into place just in time for her show to start, and right away our wrists lit up. I remember thinking “Taylor is magic. Who else can make fifty thousand people feel so connected? Not just to her but to each other.”

About half way through the show she talked about the Snake theme she chose for her tour. She said:

“I wanted to send a message to you guys that if someone uses name calling to bully you on social media, and even if a lot of people jump on board with it, that doesn’t have to defeat you. It can strengthen you instead.”

She went on to say:

“You shouldn’t care so much if you feel misunderstood by a lot of people who don’t know you, as long as you feel understood by people who do know you, who will show up for you, the people who see you as a human being… it’s you. You did that for me.”

And I found myself in tears. But like, bad tears. Not like “aww sweet.” No. Like, searching under the seat for a tissue so I don’t drown in snot tears.

Because not only did she give me years of strength and understanding through music, she allowed me to do something for her as well. With my bracelet blinking, and my eyes gushing, I felt connected. And so did everyone else there.

Anyone can buy a camera and start an Instagram. But only a truly special person will create a place where people can feel connected. Be someone who opens their hearts for a meaningful connection. Allow people to know you and know them in return. Once you do this, people will want to be a part of your journey. They’ll want to be a part of your work, of your story.

That night back in May, Taylor also told us:

“I think everyone is just looking for a connection.”

So, thank you for being here to connect.

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris