I grew up bullied. I’ve had high school classmates whisper about me behind my back. They said I had no taste in style, my hair was ugly, and that I was too weird for liking sports and books.

Then came Speak Now. Seven years ago, a young, underdog Taylor Swift stood up to her bullies with “Mean” and I knew I wasn’t alone. There was someone out there who was also put down, but she rose up and fought back her bullies — the people who took away her moment of glory, the people who told her she wasn’t good enough. She became my role model.

She’s the epitome of a woman who, if she wants to get things done, she will get things done.

She’s someone who took life and love’s heartbreaks and turned them into something bigger than herself. She turned her personal tragedies into universal experiences that had young girls believing she wasn’t going to be defined by a defunct relationship that wasn’t headed anywhere anyway. A broken heart sucks, but that pain won’t last a lifetime. The next thing you know that relationship is just a footnote in a bigger, greater story.

She’s also someone who surrounds herself with people who will bring good out of her. We all know of Tay-Tay’s ever-growing squad, her circle of famous friends who remind us that our friendships in life matter. We don’t have to go through things in the world alone and it helps to be surrounded by people who support you. It’s mutual beneficence, really. They bring out the best in you and you do the same for them. And when the mean ones come striking back for another jab, they’re with you for the counterpunch.

Her success is not a product of fate or sheer luck. She worked hard to get to where she is, proving that a woman determined is a woman who will get what she wants. She shook off the haters and took the world as a blank space she had to fill with her art.

Last year was not just 2015; it was 1989. She showed the world that she was not gonna go out of style. In fact, she’ll keep recreating it and each time prove that taking on such a risk will always be worth taking.

The world tells you “it gets better” and for someone who’s been pushed around most of her life, I see her as the exemplification of that.

And on music’s biggest night, she didn’t let a misogynistic jab at her take her down. She, in true Taylor Swift fashion, used that negativity in order to remind young women everywhere of an important truth: whatever you achieve in this life is a fruition of your own hard-work and the support of the people who helped you get there.

Monday night’s Grammy Awards proved why Taylor Swift is an icon for young women like me. She won the most coveted award that night, Album of The Year for the record-breaking 1989, and she used her time on the podium to say this:

“As the first woman to win Album of the Year at the GRAMMYs twice, I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you’ look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there and that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”

Thank you, Taylor. Young women like me needed that. More than you know.

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