A lot of the time, we turn to music when we’re lonely, or confused, or insecure, or heartbroken. And it makes me wonder if there are any of you here tonight have turned to music when they were going through something. Just so you know, for a songwriter there is no greater honour than someone saying to you, “I listened when I really needed help” or “I was really lonely” or “I was really sad” or “I was afraid.” And the moments where you feel alone, if you turn to one of my songs, thank you so much, that is the ultimate compliment. You know, I think a lot about happiness as a concept, because I think when we’re little kids, we just, we’re happy all the time, and we think we’re going to continue to be that way as we grow up. And I think, as we get older, we learn that happiness is this rare, fleeting thing, and it’s something that isn’t a constant, it’s not permanent. And then confidence is the same way. Feeling confident about yourself, feeling okay about who you are, and the choices you’ve made, and where you are in your life, and how you look, all of that, it can get so twisted in our minds, right? Like, some days we feel like, “I’m cool with myself. This is fine, I’m good with this.” And then other days, when we look in the mirror, all we see are our mistakes, all we see is just, all we hear are voices saying, “I’m not cool. No one likes you. You’re horribly annoying, and you should not go to work today. You should not go to school today. No one wants to be around you.” And it’s the tricks that our mind plays on us.
So I guess if there’s one thing that you remember from tonight, can I just tell you that all that…All that tunnel vision that tells you you’re not good enough is an absolute illusion. It’s not real. And the most negative thoughts about yourself are not who you actually are. And I, I would like to tell you who you actually are, okay? Let me start by telling you who you’re not. You are not the opinion of someone who doesn’t know you. You are not damaged goods just because you’ve made mistakes in your life. You are not going nowhere just because you haven’t gotten where you want to go yet. Let me tell you what you are. You are somebody who’s wiser, stronger, and smarter because you’ve made mistakes in your life. Most importantly, you are someone who, at this very moment, might be going through something really terrible, or difficult, or maybe you woke up today and you didn’t feel good enough. But instead of dwelling on that, and letting that moment of fear define you, you decided to put on an awesome outfit, maybe dress yourself in Christmas lights, and make a poster, and go to a concert and have the best time ever with us. We think that our mistakes are, like, written all over us, or like mud that covers and somehow tarnishes who we are, how others see us. But that’s all in our heads. I just think that, if in your head, you can get to a place where you don’t count mistakes as weaknesses, you count them as strengths, in that moment, when you look in the mirror, you’re finally clean.
Taylor Swift to the St Louis crowd on night two before performing Clean.