The singer turned 30 on Friday, and in celebration of her special day, ET is taking a trip down memory lane to commemorate her most powerful, game-changing moments of her past year as a 29-year-old. From how she's now handling her love life in the public eye to standing up for herself and other women, the Reading, Pennsylvania, native is entering a new decade of adulthood with grace, beauty and positivity.
1. Keeping her love life private
Gone are the days when Swift would Instagram pics from her romantic date nights, or when her boyfriend would be snapped by the paparazzi, rocking an "I ❤️ T.S." tank top at one of her parties. After making numerous headlines for her high-profile romances throughout her 20s, Swift has handled her current relationship with actor Joe Alwyn quite differently.
While she has given us some hints about the love they share (with the release of her latest album, Lover), Swift rarely discusses Alwyn in interviews. "I've learned that if I [talk about my relationship], people think it's up for discussion, and our relationship isn't up for discussion," she explained to The Guardian in August. "That's where the boundary is, and that's where my life has become manageable. I really want to keep it feeling manageable."
2. Getting political
The GRAMMY winner is all about speaking out for causes that are close to her heart these days, recently petitioning in support of the federal Equality Act. In an interview with Vogue in August, she credited her collaborator and friend, Todrick Hall, for inspiring her to lend her voice to the cause. "Maybe a year or two ago, Todrick and I are in the car and he asked me, 'What would you do if your son was gay?'" she recalled. "The fact that he had to ask me… shocked me and made me realize that I had not made my position clear enough or loud enough. 'If my son was gay, he'd be gay. I don't understand the question.'"
"If he was thinking that, I can't imagine what my fans in the LGBTQ community might be thinking," she added. "It was kind of devastating to realize that I hadn't been publicly clear about that [before]."
3. Making a statement with "You Need to Calm Down"
Swift took her political stance even further, with the release of "You Need to Calm Down" and its accompanying music video. Throwing punches at conservative bigots and homophobes, the Pride party-themed video featured a slew of queer icons, including Ellen DeGeneres, Laverne Cox, Billy Porter, RuPaul, Adam Lambert and Queer Eye's Fab Five (Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Tan France and Jonathan Van Ness).
4. Always supporting other women
When Bebe Rexha shared with her fans ahead of her 30th birthday this year that a male music executive told her that she was "getting too old" to be sexy, Swift was one of the first to back her up via Instagram. "DRAG THEM," she commented. "29 YEAR OLDS UNITE. ?"
6. Calling out sexist double standards in the music industry
"When I was 23, people were just kind of reducing me to, like, kind of making slideshows of my dating life and putting people in there that I'd sat next to at a party once," Swift recalled to Zane Lowe on Apple Music's Beats 1. "It's a way to take a woman who's doing her job and succeeding at doing her job and making things, and -- in a way -- it's figuring out how to completely minimize that skill by taking something that everyone in their darkest, darkest moments loves to do, which is just to slut-shame."
"So now when I see this happening, I can see a headline about a young artist, about a young female artist, about another breakup, and it sends me into a real sad place," she added. "Because I don't want that to keep happening."
7. Unashamedly fighting for her masters
In what's arguably her most publicized power move of 2019, Swift spoke out about the struggles musicians often face when they don't own their masters but try to obtain them years later. All of this came after Scooter Braun (through his Ithaca Holdings company) bought her former label, Scott Borchetta's Big Machine, which includes the rights to her master recordings that were made prior to her exit from the label in 2018.
"We need to think about how we handle master recordings, because this isn't it," Swift shared with Billboard on Wednesday. "I spent 10 years of my life trying rigorously to purchase my masters outright and was then denied that opportunity, and I just don't want that to happen to another artist if I can help it."
8. ...and taking action by re-recording her music
Swift confirmed earlier this year that she plans to re-record her first five albums. "It's something that I'm very excited about doing because my contract says that starting November 2020, so next year, I can record albums one through five all over again," she explained on Good Morning America. "I'm very excited about it. I just think that artists deserve to own their own work. I just feel very passionately about that."
9. Completely owning who she is
"When I was younger, I used to get questions like, 'Where do you see yourself in 10 years?' I'd try to answer," Swift recalled, in an interview with British Vogue this month. "As I get older, I'm learning that wisdom is learning how dumb you are compared to how much you are going to know."
10. Handling sexist interview questions like a boss
In a May interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Swift was asked if turning 30 was a "turning point" in her life, and if she's ready for her next step in her relationship with Alwyn. "I really do not think men are asked that question when they turn 30," she clapped back. "So I'm not going to answer that question now."
11. Addressing the haters
In another interview with CBS Sunday Morning in August, Swift was asked why she chooses to sing to her critics. "Well, when they stop coming for me, I will stop singing to them," she replied. "People go on and on about, like, 'You have to forgive and forget to move past something.' No, you don't. You don't have to forgive and you don't have to forget to move on. You can move on without any of those things happening. You just become indifferent, and then you move on."
"I'm still someone who is the first to apologize when I'm wrong," she added. "But I think I'm better at standing up for myself when I've been wronged. So, that's something that I think also comes with growing up."
12. Blocking out "the noise"
Swift wrote a personal "30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30" piece for Elle in March, where she opened up about some of the lessons she's learned over the past 29 years. "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 shared. "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 that 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," she continued. "I think it’s healthy for your self-esteem to need less internet praise to appease it."
13. Learning to accept her body, flaws and all
It's true; even Swift has faced insecurities when it comes to body image. But as she enters her 30s, she feels more confident than ever. "I learned to stop hating every ounce of fat on my body," she wrote, in the aforementioned essay for Elle. "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."
14. Getting candid about stage fright and anxiety
When Swift released Lover, she put out four deluxe editions that featured pages from her real-life diaries. "I wish it wasn't so, but I can't blame my mind for speaking out about performances," she wrote in an entry from 2010. "Criticism of my performances has been the biggest source of pain in my life. I sometimes feel like my college degree is in acting like I'm OK when I'm not."
"Today I had a lot of anxiety about my career because I don't know what to do for the 'Mean' video," she added a year later. "It's such an important song and message and it just isn't coming together. I get so stressed out... My life is so beautiful right now. Every once in a while I have to remind myself to breathe and take in the view."
15. Discussing the importance of appreciating the simple things
In another entry from 2009, Swift wrote about a "simple and perfect" day with her mother, Andrea Swift. "Today was just me and my mom, driving around, looking at antiques in little antique shops, talking about what chandelier should go in the foyer and if this cabinet would look right in the guest room," the entry read. "We stopped for ice cream cones. It started raining hard while we were shopping, so we had to run back to the car, getting soaked and screaming."
"I just kept thinking, when I'm 90 years old, re-living the good old days, I doubt I'll look back on the number one parties as fondly and as frequently as I'll look back on today," she added.
16. Taking some time off for family
"Soon You'll Get Better," track No. 12 on Lover, is a deeply personal song that details the pain and worry that Swift and her family have felt since learning of her mother's cancer diagnosis. Swift's mom was first diagnosed in 2015, but her daughter revealed earlier this year that she's fighting the battle once again. Because of that, Swift's 2020 Lover Fest will run a bit differently from her previous tours, allowing her to have more time off from the road.
"This is a year where I have to be there for my family," she told Billboard, for her Woman of the Decade feature. "There's a lot of question marks throughout the next year, so I wanted to make sure that I could go home."
17. Helping new artists navigate fame
In that same interview, Swift shared how she's become a confidant for many up-and-coming artists over the years. "I get so many phone calls from new artists out of the blue, like, 'Hey, I'm getting my first wave of bad press, I'm freaking out, can I talk to you?' And the answer is always yes!" she said. "I'm talking about more than 20 people who have randomly reached out to me. I take it as a compliment because it means that they see what has happened over the course of my career, over and over again."
18. Moving on as "America's sweetheart"
Swift couldn't be prouder about using her platform to speak up for herself and others, even if it means being seen in a different light. "It's so strange trying to be self-aware when you've been cast as this always smiling, always happy 'America's sweetheart' thing, and then having that taken away and realizing that it's actually a great thing that it was taken away, because that's extremely limiting," she explained to Vogue. "We're not going to go straight to gratitude with it. Ever. But we're going to find positive aspects to it. We're never going to write a thank-you note."
19. That time she helped a fan go to college
In August, Swift sent Toronto-based fan Ayesha Khurram nearly $5,000 via PayPal to help pay her college tuition. "I posted about struggling with paying for tuition. Two hours later, I get this in my email," Khurram wrote on Instagram, alongside a screenshot of Swift's PayPal transaction. "I have no words and I can't stop crying."
The screenshot also featured Swift's note to Khurram, which read, "Ayesha, get your learn on girl. I love you! Taylor."
20. Publicly apologizing to a famous ex
It takes a lot to admit when you're wrong, but on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Showin May, Swift apologized for putting her ex-boyfriend, Joe Jonas, "on blast" while appearing on the show in 2008.
When asked what was the most rebellious thing she did as a teenager, Swift replied, "Probably when I, like, put Joe Jonas on blast on your show. That was too much, that was too much. I was 18, yeah. We laugh about it now, but that was mouthy. Yeah, some teenage stuff there."
21. Landing a role in Cats
Seriously, could anyone think of a more purr-fect role for Swift? The singer confirmed via Instagram in January that she would be playing Bombalurina in the upcoming movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic musical, Cats. For the film, Swift also teamed up with Webber for the original song "Beautiful Ghosts," which has received a 2020 Golden Globes nomination for Best Original Song.
22. ...and adopting another cat
Swift loves showing off her adorable cats, Meredith and Olivia, but she revealed earlier this year that she adopted a third one, Benjamin Button, who appeared in the music video for "ME!"
"Oh my god. I love this little cat," she shared, in various videos featuring the tiny kitten. "I've never, personally, encountered a cat that preferred to be carried as if they're a human baby, but that's what's happening here. This is how he prefers to travel."
23. The time she got REAL about self-worth and finding happiness
"I think when we talk about being happy or loving yourself those are all things that we feel sometimes ... when we're having the best day, the sun is shining, it's going to be an OK day, everything's going to be good, I'm all right with myself," Swift said in an interview with the Zach Sang Showin April. "But I think one thing to always keep tabs on is the fact that we have to know that there is no 'happily ever after,' where we're just happy forever. Happiness is always going to be a struggle and a challenge we have to try and meet. Self-worth is always going to be something that it's a process of trying to get there."
"That's not naturally how we're going to feel all the time," she continued. "There have been times where I needed to take years off because I just felt exhausted, or I felt, like, really low or really bad."
24. When she made TIME's 100 Most Influential People list
"She's the master of putting the perfect amount of thought into not overthinking, and that's why her music connects so well," fellow singer Shawn Mendes wrote of Swift for the feature, which also included the likes of Michelle Obama, Gayle King and Emilia Clarke. "Taylor makes anyone older feel young again, and anyone young feel they can do anything. It's so rare and so special. If there is one thing I want to achieve in my career and life, it's that."
25. Laughing off an onstage oops
What could have been an absolute disaster turned into a funny moment when Swift took a tumble while performing at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, last July. She fell right onto her bottom while singing "Call It What You Want," but popped right back up and didn't miss a beat!
26. Always making sure her friends feel loved
Anytime a bestie has a birthday, they know they can count on Swift! Whether it be a sweet shout-out on social media or a full-on cake baked from scratch (like the one she sent Gomez last July), the singer always makes a point to make her close pals feel special.
27. Paying tribute to Manchester attack victims
During her concert at the Manchester Etihad Stadium in England last June, Swift honored those affected by the 2017 Manchester bombing, which occurred after Ariana Grande's show. "You've shown that you're never gonna let anyone forget about those victims," she told the audience. "And you've shown that you have such incredible resilience to keep dancing and to keep the innocence and to keep the joy and to keep the excitement."
28. Never forgetting her roots
Last April, the country star turned pop princess returned to Nashville, Tennessee (where she was discovered), to surprise 40 concertgoers with a drop-in performance at the legendary Bluebird Cafe. One year later, she returned again, this time to pose in front of a giant wall mural in The Gulch neighborhood. The "What Lifts You Up" artwork, created by street artist Kelsey Montague, provided clues to Swift's Lover album.
29. Making the lead-up to the release of Lover fun for her fans
Chicks wearing sunglasses. Holes in fences. A row of palm trees. Anyone who followed Swift on Instagram this year knows what we're talking about! Before the singer revealed that her seventh studio album would be titled Lover, fans spent months trying to put all the Insta clues together to figure out what the name (and theme) of "TS7" would be.
"The Easter egg hunts, when they stop being fun for my fans, I'll stop doing them," Swift said in an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1 on Apple Music in May. "But they seem to be having fun with them and I think that with music, I'm always trying to expand the experience from just being an audio one. Like, if I can turn it into something that feels symbolic or seems like a scavenger hunt or seems like some kind of brain game that feels like it's more, then I think that's something to keep in mind as a goal for me. I just want to entertain them on as many levels when I can."
30. ...and giving them free pizza
Back in August, hundreds of fans lined the sidewalks surrounding Central Park in New York City, patiently waiting to get a glimpse of Swift on Good Morning America. Swift's team (including her father, Scott Swift) pulled a major power move, by ordering pizza for those camping out.
For more on the birthday girl, watch the video below.