Miss Americana & the Good Girl Curse

Thoughts On The Queen Herself: Taylor Swift.

I stood at the tip top of the stadium stage -- in the very last row -- next to my best friend, our wristbands glowing red.

We felt like the oldest people at the Taylor Swift concert who weren't chaperoning tweens, but it really didn't matter.

We were lighting up the night and crying to the sounds of a story of growing up being set to music.

I thought about all the sunny DC days I had spent walking across the city, headphones in, Swift's voice the soundtrack as I disentangled myself from an old marriage, an old church, an old way of being me.

Her songs played as I gave up the ghost of the girl I'd been – the good girl — and stepped into something new.

Of course we make music mean what we want, we let it mirror what we are feeling. That's why I still feel like The Cure is really singing about being a thirteen year old girl — that's who & where I was when it was all I could listen to. ;)

But it turned out that the story I heard in my own life, in my own head, while I listened to Taylor was one she was feeling, too. And would. And would have to.

What it is like to suddenly stop being seen as the good one.

What it is like to suddenly be cut loose, like a satellite spinning out of orbit, cut free, and careening.

She recently came out with her new documentary: Miss Americana, and I wanted to share a couple of things that struck me. To be honest, I’ve already watched it a few times, and let’s just say tears were shed.

The main part that stood out to me was how Taylor dealt with the world when people started to disapprove of everything she was doing.

A lot of you probably know of the moment of intense controversy when her identity in the public eye switched — from being safe, good, beloved, to someone who became very publicaly criticized. Who was problematic. Who had been sneaky, racist, wrong. Someone who was Bad.

She talks about how her entire life, she got high off of everyone else’s approval and there was so much conditioning about her being the best person in the industry.

The documentary also dives into how people in the music industry, especially those who started at a young age like Taylor, are taught to not have political opinions, or really any opinions at all. They are just there to entertain and not stir up controversy

Over and over, she replays a moment where she wasn’t told to be like the Dixie Chicks. She thought, just show up and do your job.

Play the part.

Don't make noise.

She discusses how there was an identity shift from feeling like approval was the number one priority and then suddenly losing it to...being forced to create an entirely new identity.

She wonders, what does it mean if that part of me is gone?

Who am I if I'm not the good girl?

Am I safe if I'm not the good girl?

I hear this from my clients every day.

I felt it myself.

This makes me ask the question to everyone, which pieces of our identity are we holding to so tightly? In UNCOVER right now, we are starting to look at shadow work.

Basically, underneath the sense of who we are, what are things we are afraid people think about us? What is the worst thing someone could say or think about us and how would it make us feel?

Even beyond that, what is the worst thing that could be true about us? Shadowing is so powerful because we put a lot of thought into it. You could start thinking about it right now. What is a high stakes identity for you?

For Taylor, it was being nice and loved.

For you, it could be so different.

We all have ego identities that are running the show and while we are afraid of what is underneath, we judge it in other people.

Here’s your homework: think about something that you don’t want to be true about yourself. Can you go into it? Why is it scary? What would it mean? What do you judge other people that have that thing?

Let’s see if we can loosen its grip. I am here to support you, and I can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Because on the other side of a rigid identity, of a shell, of the rules of Good Girl Engagement, is REAL freedom.

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