The year 2023 was primetime if you’re a Taylor Swift fan. It was arguably the most massive year in the major musical artist’s lucrative and prolific 18-year career.

She embarked on a massive international tour that has already become the most profitable tour of all-time — she rereleased two iconic albums and she even made a splash on the NFL stage, inadvertently diverting the spotlight from huge star players.

It’s likely impossible to navigate your social circles without encountering a Swiftie, what her fans call themselves. So what was it that lead to the rise in fever pitch surrounding Swift?

“I think she became so popular this year because her music can bring people together from all different stories,” long-time Swift fan Britnee Boyer told the Deseret News. “Even the kindergarteners I teach talk about her. Her songs can mean one thing to one person and something else to another.”

Taylor Swift’s major milestones and records broken in 2023

In a myriad of ways, Swift reached multiple notable achievements in the last year. Here are a few of note.

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Confessions from a Swiftie

I am a major Swiftie, if you couldn’t already tell. I was hooked from the moment I heard “Tim McGraw” as a junior in high school. I watched the Country Music Channel every morning and after school hoping they would play “Tim McGraw” or “Teardrops on My Guitar.” And I bought every one of her CDs the day it was released and listened repeatedly.

During my senior year of high school, our baseball and softball team shared a charter bus from little Soda Springs, Idaho, to go to a double header in Twin Falls. “Our Song” came on the radio, and the entire bus was scream singing every word as the bus driver cranked up the sound.

Swift managed to craft a song that was so unavoidably catchy and enticing to sing to that even a group of self-conscious teens from a small town couldn’t resist the temptation to play it cool. It was a moment where it felt like each of us was admitting that falling in love and relating to a clever but cheesy love song actually sounded really amazing.

I felt seen listening to “A Place in This World.” I have cried my eyes out to “All Too Well” more times than I can count. Her “Folklore” album put into words and melancholy melody the exact feelings I was experiencing while the world was going through a pandemic.

Her music and her words resonate — heartbreak hurts. Navigating relationships is tricky. Growing up is hard. And she provided a means to lean into those feelings.

Singer Taylor Swift performs during her Reputation tour at MetLife Stadium on Friday, July 20, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. | Evan Agostini, Invision, Associated Press

Oftentimes we become conditioned not to express those emotions or put this pressure on ourselves to be OK or to seem fine, even if we are experiencing a breakup or a loss or a difficult time at work or a strained relationship with a friend.

Swift doesn’t shy away from leaning into that hurt or that heartbreak and has created an outlet for her fans to do that as well. Emotions don’t just go away because we want them to. And for me and millions of other fans, she’s provided a path for us to process those hardships and sing along while doing it.

“Her music reminds us all that we’re all just living the human experience — we all experience love and loss and a time we need to reinvent ourselves,” Boyer said. “And that’s how it unites us, because her music reminds us that we have a lot more in common than not.”

Taylor Swift embraces the things that might make her kind of a dork

Swift is brilliant. She was the most searched songwriter in the world, according to Google’s data, for a reason. The artist has a talent for writing and creating a moment that fully engulfs the person experiencing her work. And part of what makes her so good at that is that she’s not afraid to employ props classically labeled “dorky” or “basic” to enhance her performances and to use in her marketing.

She announced her “Lover” album standing in front of a butterfly mural — the exact image people joked makes a girl basic. She embraced the theatrical in her performance of “Tolerate It” during The Eras Tour, shining a light on how it feels to be in a relationship that isn’t working anymore. She named her three cats after her favorite movie and TV characters. Also, she owns three cats.

“I’m a big advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm for things,” Swift said during her New York University commencement speech, per Billboard. “It seems to me that there is a false stigma around eagerness in our culture of ‘unbothered ambivalence.’”

Taylor Swift speaks during a graduation ceremony for New York University at Yankee Stadium in New York, Wednesday, May 18, 2022. | Seth Wenig, Associated Press

She continued, “Never be ashamed of trying. Effortlessness is a myth. The people who wanted it the least were the ones I wanted to date and be friends with in high school. The people who want it most are the people I now hire to work for my company.”

Another aspect of Swift’s brand that has reached a fever pitch this year — friendship bracelets. One Seattle bead store completely sold out in anticipation of Swift’s Seattle shows, King 5 reported.

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The friendship bracelets have become a signature of her brand, empowering fans to share their creativity and to engage with each other while trading.

“Taylor pushed me out of my comfort zone this year,” long-time Swift fan Ashley Llewellyn said. “I met so many amazing people through her. I traded bracelets with strangers, threw listening parties for all my Swiftie friends and met so many new people at concerts.”

Taylor Swift empowers her fans to be their best selves

When Swift released “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” concert movie to be available to rent, my sister hosted a watching party at her house, which included sugar cookies to decorate with references to each of Swift’s albums, friendship bracelets to make and a life size cutout of Swift.

Lucy Llewellyn and three of her neighbors take a bow at the end of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” concert movie their families rented. | Sarah Gambles, Deseret News

Throughout the performance, my niece and her friends danced and sang along to each of the songs. At the end, the four of them grabbed hands and took a bow, mirroring Swift and her team. As I watched them take a bow in their costumes and matching Swift T-shirts, it gave me hope. I love that those girls get to grow up with a role model like her — someone who isn’t afraid to be honest about her feelings, who embraces her dorky side and who empowers them to make change for the better.

“Taylor gave me amazing memories with my daughters this year and for that I will be forever grateful,” Llewellyn said. “I was lucky enough to take my oldest daughter to two concerts and it was magical. Watching her scream out some of my most beloved lyrics from Taylor was amazing. Then I got to take my youngest daughter to the movie multiple times and got to see her proudly show off her ‘Fearless’ dress and curls and dance around singing the words to all the songs. My kids know most Taylor songs word for word and it has been incredible sharing our love of Taylor together.”

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