"Be like a snake -- only bite if someone steps on you."
The 29-year-old singer covers the April issue of Elle, and discusses everything from politics to learning to cook in a self-written list of the lessons she's learned. In one of Swift's lessons, she says that she "learned that disarming someone’s petty bullying can be as simple as learning to laugh."
She goes on to describe how someone calling her a "snake" on social media led her "to feeling lower than I've ever felt in my life." That statement likely refers to her long-running feud with Kardashian West and Kanye West, which started when Swift came out against "Famous," a West song that claimed that the rapper made "that b**ch famous," in 2016.
The feud escalated, with Kardashian West releasing a secretly recorded phone conversation between Swift and West that was made prior to the release of the song. After releasing the audio recording, Kardashian West took to Twitter to celebrate National Snake Day.
"Wait it's legit National Snake Day?!?!?They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days! ?????????????????????????????????????," she wrote.
Swift ended up reclaiming the snake symbol, with her fans tweeting it out in support and even incorporating it into her recent Reputation Tour set.
"In my experience, I’ve come to see that bullies want to be feared and taken seriously," she writes in Elle. "A few years ago, someone started an online hate campaign by calling me a snake on the internet."
"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," she continues. "It’s the Stadium Tour equivalent of responding to a troll’s hateful Instagram comment with 'lol.'"
"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 adds.
Her fans, Swift says, got her through both the feud and her tour.
"The fans and their care for me, my well-being, and my music were the ones who pulled me through," she says. "The most emotional part of the Reputation Stadium Tour for me was knowing I was looking out at the faces of the people who helped me get back up. I’ll never forget the ones who stuck around."
Swift also adds that she was raised "to be a polite young lady," but has had to learn how to stand up for herself and be "like a snake" when necessary.
"Grow a backbone, trust your gut, and know when to strike back," she writes. "Be like a snake -- only bite if someone steps on you."
Swift also spoke more about the effects of social media in general, apart from the Kardashian West snake incident.
"Social media can be great, but it can also inundate your brain with images of what you aren’t, how you’re failing, or who is in a cooler locale than you at any given moment," she writes. "One thing I do to lessen this weird insecurity laser beam is to turn off comments... That way, I’m showing my friends and fans updates on my life, but I’m training my brain to not need the validation of someone telling me I look ???. I’m also blocking out anyone who might feel the need to tell me to 'go die in a hole ho' while I’m having my coffee at nine in the morning."
"For too long, the projected opinions of strangers affected how I viewed my relationships," she continues. "Whether it was the general internet consensus of who would be right for me, or what they thought was 'couples goals' based on a picture I posted on Instagram. That stuff isn’t real. For an approval seeker like me, it was an important lesson for me to learn to have my OWN value system of what I actually want."
Though she's learned how to stand up for herself in recent years, Swift isn't blind to the need to apologize when she's wrong.
"Even if it was unintentional, it’s so easy to just apologize and move on," she advises. "Try not to say 'I’m sorry, but...' and make excuses for yourself. Learn how to make a sincere apology, and you can avoid breaking down the trust in your friendships and relationships."
"Chances are you’re not trying to hurt the person you love and they aren’t trying to hurt you. If you can wind the tension of an argument down to a conversation about where the other person is coming from, there’s a greater chance you can remove the shame of losing a fight for one of you and the ego boost of the one who “won” the fight... They don’t give out awards for winning the most fights in your relationship. They just give out divorce papers."
On the eve of her 30th birthday in December, Swift has taken the milestone to reflect on her past feuds and future wants, admitting that she has learned what's important in life and what's not.
"Both of my parents have had cancer, and my mom is now fighting her battle with it again. It’s taught me that there are real problems and then there’s everything else," she says. "My mom’s cancer is a real problem. I used to be so anxious about daily ups and downs. I give all of my worry, stress, and prayers to real problems now."
"I’ve come to a realization that I need to be able to forgive myself for making the wrong choice, trusting the wrong person, or figuratively falling on my face in front of everyone," she adds. "Step into the daylight and let it go."
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