If Taylor Swift ever tires of pop stardom, she might make a great guidance counselor.
When an incoming high-school freshman named Hannah reached out to Swift on Instagram Sunday to confide her heartbreaking fears of being bullied in the new school year, the 24-year-old “Shake It Off” singer responded with a touching treatise that recounted the star’s own experience as a bullying target and offered advice for living “loudly and boldly” in the face of others’ small-mindedness.
Here’s the full exchange, starting with Hannah’s message:
Taylor, why are people at school so mean? Why do they always try to bring me down? I’m sitting here crying while I write this. I don’t know what to do anymore. No matter what I do, it’s never good enough. There’s always something that I do wrong. I get made fun of for having big dreams or what I wear or things that I like. I just want to know why they do it Taylor. Why do they do this to me? Why do they torture me and hate me so much?
I’m starting high school Wednesday and I was actually pretty excited but now whenever I think about it I feel sick. I just want to feel wanted for once. I wanna feel like I belong. I just want feel better than I do right now. Taylor please help me I need it desperately. I need a hug. I love you lots. Love, Hannah
Swift apparently did a quick background check on her distressed fan, a talented singer and guitarist who has covered Swift’s songs in YouTube videos. Then the star responded:
Reading this made me so sad because I love seeing you in your videos and photos being so happy and wide eyed, like the world isn’t as harsh and unfair as it actually is. I hate thinking about your pretty face covered in tears, but I know why you’re crying because I’ve been in your place. This isn’t a high school thing or an age thing. It’s a people thing. A life thing. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t end or change. People cut other people down for entertainment, amusement, out of jealousy, because of something broken inside them. Or for no reason at all.
It’s just what they do, and you’re a target because you live your life loudly and boldly. You’re bright and joyful and so many people are cynical. They won’t understand you and they won’t understand me. But the only way they win is if your tears turn to stone and make you bitter like them. It’s okay to ask why. It’s okay to wonder how you could try so hard and still get stomped all over. Just don’t let them change you or stop you from singing or dancing around to your favorite song.
You’re going into high school this week and this is your chance to push the reset button on how much value you give the opinion of these kids, most of whom have NO idea who they are. I’m so proud of you and protective of you because you DO. If they don’t like you for being yourself, be yourself even more. Every time someone picks on me, I’ll think of you in the hopes that every time someone picks on you, you’ll think of me… and how we have this thread that connects us. Let them keep living in the darkness and we’ll keep walking in the sunlight. Forever on your side, Taylor.
It seems the advice gave Hannah the strength she needed to start school. On her Twitter account, she reported, “I had a pretty good first day! Really stressful but good!” In another tweet, the teen noted, “When I was feeling overwhelmed I just read (Swift’s) comment.”
This isn’t the first time Swift has surprised a young fan with a sweet gesture. Last month she popped up in the hospital room of a six-year-old boy with leukemia, where she and the patient played air hockey and sang a duet. And in July, she offered advice to a lovesick teen (also named Hannah) on coping with unrequited love.
Source: Today.com via Kristi Jo Jedlicki