Since Taylor Swift is firmly in a post-press, full Beyoncé point in her career, she no longer gives interviews, opting instead to fill the pages of magazines as of late with poems, essays and reflections on life completely unfiltered.
Ahead of the pop star’s 30th birthday, she’s now revealing all the lessons she learned along the way about her biggest fears, family struggles, body acceptance, being canceled and more for Elle Magazine as she seemingly gears up ― fingers crossed ― for another era.
A nearly 30, sometimes flirty, but always thriving Swift encourages fans to accept all the messy, non-Instagram-worthy moments in her tips for living a better life.
“I learned that disarming someone’s petty bullying can be as simple as learning to laugh,” Swift wrote for the outlet. “In my experience, I’ve come to see that bullies want to be feared and taken seriously.”
“A few years ago, someone started an online hate campaign by calling me a snake on the internet,” she continued, presumably referencing her long-standing feud with Kim Kardashian. “The fact that so many people jumped on board with it led me to feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life, but I can’t tell you how hard I had to keep from laughing every time my 63-foot inflatable cobra named Karyn appeared onstage in front of 60,000 screaming fans.”
Swift’s dustup with Kardashian led to a chorus of social media users armed with snake emojis calling for the singer to be canceled, which prompted her to disappear from public life altogether for months.
Now she’s learned to cherish the ones who’ve stuck by her side (“I have friends and fans in my life who don’t care if I’m #canceled,” she wrote) and not invest in people cheering for her downfall.
“It would be nice if we could get an apology from people who bully us, but maybe all I’ll ever get is the satisfaction of knowing I could survive it, and thrive in spite of it,” she continued.
Swift also explains that she’s on a body positivity journey just like the rest of us and is trying to “retrain my brain” to love what she sees in the mirror.
“I learned to stop hating every ounce of fat on my body,” Swift wrote. “I worked hard to retrain my brain that a little extra weight means curves, shinier hair, and more energy. I think a lot of us push the boundaries of dieting, but taking it too far can be really dangerous. There is no quick fix. I work on accepting my body every day.”
Stressing over the daily ups and downs, however, has taken a back burner to the more serious issues on the home front in recent months. Swift revealed her mother is battling cancer once again after she was first diagnosed in 2015 and that her father previously had the disease.
“It’s taught me that there are real problems and then there’s everything else,” Swift wrote. “My mom’s cancer is a real problem.”
The safety of her fans also keeps her up at night after the terrorist attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester, England that killed 22 people. Swift said she was “terrified” to head out on tour this time around after the bombing because keeping everybody safe seemed like an impossibility.
These fears and anxieties have also bled into her personal life ― Swift has been the target of a disturbing number of stalkers ― but she’s pledged not to be a slave to them.
“I carry QuikClot army grade bandage dressing, which is for gunshot or stab wounds. Websites and tabloids have taken it upon themselves to post every home address I’ve ever had online. You get enough stalkers trying to break into your house and you kind of start prepping for bad things,” she wrote. “Every day I try to remind myself of the good in the world, the love I’ve witnessed and the faith I have in humanity. We have to live bravely in order to truly feel alive, and that means not being ruled by our greatest fears.”
To read Swift’s full essay, head over to Elle.