Taylor Swift’s “22” Is Not like Everyone Else’s 22
I’ll start off assuming that since this website is called “Man Cave Daily,” most of you reading this right now are men. In that sense, our experiences as 22-year-olds vastly differs from Taylor Swift’s own experience because of biology and social and gender norms. But that aside, let’s rope the lady folk back into this.
Another disclaimer: I’m currently 23 so I am going to talk like one of those, but for those of you who I have just probably made feel old (sorry), go ahead and take a trip down memory lane with us. Your experiences probably weren’t all that different.
Most of us guys and gals share equally in not sharing Taylor Swift’s experiences as 22-year-olds, purely from the fact that she got famous when she was still a teenager and is currently worth millions. Now we millennials are particularly notable for a good amount of us not having jobs, or having low paying jobs. So at least for me, I don’t even know what a million dollars would feel like. I don’t even know what 30k feels like, so I have no idea what I would do with that kind of money. Right now I’m used to just not buying things that aren’t food or other essentials.
I’d probably buy a computer. And some new clothes, too, as her reference to “dress[ing] up like hipsters” is pretty much what a lot of us would just normally wear, as folks of my generation without regular, awesome income often shop at thrift stores. So a lot of plaid happens, but that’s just because our other cheap options don’t stray too far from those screen-printed Target t-shirts that say “Trust Me I’m A Superhero” on them. And I’m clearly not a superhero, so I wouldn’t want to lie.
My food expenditures right now don’t stray too far from sandwiches and pasta, though I have moved beyond ramen. I bet Taylor can afford, like, most foods. I bet it totally rules. I also have a hunch that she lives in a neighborhood where she isn’t afraid of getting stabbed, and I so bet that she has in-unit washer and dryer. Actually, I’m also pretty sure she’s not renting, but I’m pretty sure most of us young’uns are still wedged pretty firmly in the opposite camps. Or we’re living with our parents.
As for the “deadlines” she refers to not worrying about in the first verse, those are very much likely not the finals I was thinking very diligently about not studying for when I was 22. Lo, that year and three months ago.
Here’s the thing, though. I don’t fault Taylor Swift for any of this. She’s worked hard and made her fortune and that is fantastic for her. And as for the song itself, she’s not even wrong about any of that stuff. She’s right, but mostly in the very general senses, what with the “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time” business. Though I would go Occam’s Razor and just condense that phrase to “drunk.”
But her world is all still very different from ours, and really from anybody’s. Once you get to that level of celebrity it’s hard to stay grounded, and from all her philanthropic work she still seems like a decently nice person, so that’s amazing. She just won’t have any of the crappy experiences most people have around that age that get them used to things like landlords never cleaning up the mold in your apartment or throwing the last of your money towards some cheap groceries to stay alive while you’re flat broke for the next two weeks.
Those experiences mold us into problem-solving adults, so they are fantastic to have. But if she can get through life not having to deal with most of that stuff and still staying at least a little grounded, then more power to her. If I could write songs about how uncool John Mayer is and make a ton of money off them, I so would. But that would be a very different “22” than the one I had.
Patrick is a writer and comedian living in Chicago. He would like Katy Perry to know that he is currently single and on the prowl. Meow. He’s got a Tumblr where he puts up lil’ doodles occasionally and you can follow him on Twitter @fatfraud.
Patrick has discussed being drunk in most of his articles, the most recent being Gaming for Drunkards. He reached across generations when discussing internet usage to the elderly in We Must Hide the Internet from Grandma.