NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 18: Taylor Swift Delivers New York University 2022 Commencement Address at Yankee Stadium on May 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
Hear Taylor Swift's message to these 2022 grads
02:04 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: This is one of an occasional series of personal essays from CNN staff and contributors.

CNN  — 

With her prolific song writing and curated eras, the world has gotten an intimate look into a young woman growing up through Taylor Swift’s music.

Her lyrics, speeches, videos and even a 2020 documentary, “Miss Americana,” have told the story of a girl trying to find her place in the world through approval and applause growing into a woman who finds a more sustainable source of happiness.

And now with the release of her latest album, “Midnights,” Swift fans have been invited to glimpse back into the struggles and lessons she is investigating in her next phase of her life.

I was 12 years old when I started listening to Swift’s music. I cried along as Drew didn’t see through her fake smile in the halls of high school. I twirled through daydreams of young love. I processed with her the heartbreak of long-gone relationships, finding where we might or might not have been at fault. I grappled with the fact and fiction behind reputations.

Over the 16 years she has been in the limelight, I’ve been one of the young girls who felt like Swift – through her stumbles and victories – was singing right to her. Over that time, here is what I’ve learned from Taylor Swift about living better.

(A note to my fellow Swifties: I know I’ve missed some things. Don’t blame me – I had an editor-imposed word limit.)

Taylor Swift performs at the 41st Annual Country Music Association Awards, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Make friends with your insecurities

Let’s take Swift’s music video for “Anti-hero,” a track from her latest album “Midnights,” as an example, although it is hardly the first time she has addressed her insecurities and flaws head on.

“It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem, it’s me,” Swift sings over a scene in which two versions of herself – which can be imagined as the private and public versions – meet.

They revel in taking shots until she is sick, run from ghosts of people she ghosted, smash guitars as they dance and even meet a third (giant) version who highlights her insecurities around being what she calls “a monster on the hill too big to hang out.”

The play and chaos ends with the three Taylors meeting together to share a bottle of wine and reflect as the sun goes down.

There is a peace found when her different personas come together, and the things she might not like about one are complemented by the others. I can be quick to fixate on the parts of myself I don’t like, but for me that scene perfectly captured the goal I am striving for: accepting the many facets of myself.

Taylor Swift in her documentary, "Miss Americana."

Prioritize a positive body relationship

“There’s always some standard of beauty you’re not meeting,” Swift said in her “Miss Americana” documentary. “If you’re thin enough, then you don’t have that a** that everybody wants. But if you have enough weight on you to have an a**, then your stomach isn’t flat enough.”

Noting that hypocrisy, Swift describes her evolving relationship with her body and a history of disordered eating in the film. Amid a barrage of photos and body commentary in the tabloids and on social media, she spoke of a period when she would exercise heavily and slowly starve herself to meet an ideal.