- Erin Wickham, 34, says she found Taylor Swift “annoying” for most of her twenties.
- In March, a coworker suggested a song off Swift’s album “Evermore,” and Wickham says she got hooked.
- She’s now spent thousands on two Swift shows from the Eras Tour and plans to attend more concerts.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Erin Wickham, a 34-year-old director at a leadership consulting firm, about her experiences becoming a Taylor Swift superfan in her mid-30s. It’s been edited for length and clarity.
If you would’ve asked me in 2012 if in 10 years I’d be spending thousands of dollars — of my own free will — to see Taylor Swift in concert twice in three weeks, I would’ve laughed you out of the room.
But such is the power of music, and TikTok.
After more than a decade of finding Swift’s persona grating—mostly because it all felt forced and engineered—I feel like I finally see what all the fuss is about. I’m a die-hard Swiftie, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I always knew Swift as this pop-bubblegum artist, so I didn’t expect much
The process of getting converted from Taylor Swift antagonist to full-on superfan happened faster than I expected. It all started in March 2023, when TikTok’s algorithm began serving me way more Taylor content than I ever asked for. I even tried blocking certain hashtags, but TikTok demanded I see it.
A few weeks later, in one of many conversations with my Swiftie colleagues, one person suggested I give the song “Marjorie” a listen. It’s about Swift’s grandmother. “Just give it a chance,” they said.
Within six weeks, life would never be the same.
Swift’s music spoke to me on an emotional level I wasn’t expecting
I had a difficult 2022. I battled mental-health challenges, grieved the loss of a loved one, and generally wished the year would just wrap things up already. So things were still pretty raw in the spring of this year when I begrudgingly took my coworker’s advice.
What I got caught me totally off guard. Her lyrics were deeply heartfelt, and the entire “Evermore” album felt more like a healing conversation with a friend than the pop music I’d heard in my twenties. It felt like Taylor and I shared the same life experience, and it was cathartic in all the ways great music can be.
I started to wonder, Is this what I’ve been missing? I had to go deeper into her discography. But first, I dove back into TikTok.
I discovered the intricacy of Taylor’s music
I’m a sucker for fantasy worlds. It’s probably why my budding obsession with Taylor coincided with a newfound appreciation for TikTok’s algorithm serving me all those concert videos, get-ready-with-me videos, memes, quizzes, and more.
Before, it was maddening to be so inundated with all that content. But suddenly, I had a brand-new outlook on all of it. I loved finding the Easter eggs in song lyrics, deciphering them like a puzzle. It almost felt like the “Game of Thrones” series, it was so interconnected.
TikTok gave me tremendous FOMO and I wanted to see Taylor with my own two eyes
The first concert I went to was in late May, at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. I spent about $1,400 on a nosebleed ticket, which came to about $1,900 with fees.
I knew this was a ridiculous sum of money to spend on one night of live music, but I also didn’t care. By this point, I was so eager to finally see her live, it felt worth it.
The show, as others have reported, was a blur. I remember almost nothing, other than it feeling like a religious experience. It was safe and comfortable. I became instant friends with my seatmates, exchanging homemade bracelets, singing all the words together, and soaking in the five-hour show late into the night.
As I boarded the bus back to NYC, I remember feeling a bit depressed. The dopamine rush was over, and I had nothing to look forward to anymore. However, it didn’t take long for another surge, in the form of a thought: Where can I see her next?
I wanted to see Taylor up close
Living in the Northeast, I knew Pittsburgh would be the best option to catch the next show. This time, though, I wanted to see Taylor up close: the costumes, the makeup, the dancing, all of it.
That meant I needed to buy floor seats, which were costing upward of $20,000 apiece. I was crazy for Taylor Swift, but I wasn’t going to shell out that kind of money.
Then one day I saw there was a lone floor seat, in section 13, that was listed at $3,605. I told myself, if it’s there tomorrow, I’ll do it. Then the next day, I said the same thing. Finally, around 2 a.m. on the way home from a night out with friends, I bought it.
I’d learned that I needed to come even more prepared
I made my own friendship bracelets this time, and I made another costume, as is custom, to honor a specific era of Taylor’s career. In New Jersey I went with Lover Era; in Pittsburgh, Midnights Era.
The show was on a Saturday night. On Friday, I took an Amtrak train into the city and checked into the hotel that was just a few minutes’ walk to the stadium. The hotel alone cost nearly $2,500 for two nights because the entire building was booked up with fellow Swifties.
It was like the entire city had been taken over
People tailgated outside the stadium Friday night, and during the day on Saturday, it was like a cult town. Everyone was walking around in merch, trading friendship bracelets, and filtering in and out of the vintage stores holding pop-up events. It was Swifties in $75 t-shirts as far as the eye could see.
All the while, I was trying not to overthink how the hell I got here. As a 34-year-old who routinely forgets how old she is, frankly I was over caring what it “meant” to be a Swiftie. I just knew I was having a blast.
When I told my therapist I missed our appointment to see the second show, she said we needed to talk
I know how insane and cultish this journey sounds. I’m still processing how fast it all went down. My therapist was only half-joking, I’m sure, when I returned from Pittsburgh and she said we needed to unpack what’s going on here.
On the other hand, I’m grateful I discovered Taylor Swift’s music when I did.
I grew up in a musical family, even going to music school with the expectation I’d become a professional singer. But life as a starving artist held no appeal for me. I even began to resent other artists’ commercial success, since it wasn’t the path I followed. Through Taylor’s music, I feel connected to my musical roots for the first time in a while.
Taylor Swift’s music makes me feel less alone
I imagine this sense of connection is why people have followed groups like the Grateful Dead and Phish around for so many years. And knowing there are so many people around the world who have gone through similarly messy breakups or have felt the pain of losing loved ones—people who derive the same joy and meaning from her music that I do—that is genuinely comforting.
I don’t know when the next show will be, but I’m sure it will be soon enough. It took a decade before I became a Swiftie. There’s plenty of time to enjoy being one.