The Speak Now era is the best thing that’s ever been mine. Today marks the seventh anniversary of Taylor Swift‘s first (and only!) album written entirely on her own. It also marks the day I realized that my hero/icon/idol would go down in history as a songwriting legend. Sure, a lot of Swifties like myself were introduced to the country darling singing hits like “Love Story” or “You Belong With Me” — but, it wasn’t until her third studio album that we were faced with the truth that Taylor is one of the most talented artists of our time.

The then 19-year-old singer went with the title Speak Now because she wanted her fans to have the bravery to speak their minds before the moment was gone forever. “These songs are made up of words I didn’t say when the moment was right in front of me,” she wrote. “These songs are open letters. Each is written with a specific person in mind, telling them what I meant to tell them in person.”

taylor swift speak now

In 16 days (but who’s counting?) she will release her much-anticipated album, Reputation. The music is said to include shady lyrics about her enemies and has already proven itself to be an entirely new sound. As a fan who’s followed Taylor since she was 13-years-old — how did we get from romantic sparkly dress Tay to angry ripped sweatshirt Tay? In 2010, when someone said something about her, she grabbed her banjo and asked: “Why you got to be so mean?” Now, she grabs her snakes and shouts “look what you made me do!”

Something… shifted. Maybe it’s the 10 Grammy Awards, 19 American Music Awards, 21 Billboard Music Awards, and countless others. The reason why Taylor’s returning with a vengeance is because she has a reputation to defend. As much as her haters would like you to believe that she’s a whiny serial dater who can’t take a joke… she’s not. She’s an award-winning musician who has earned her success. Come on, even frenemy Katy Perry is a huge Speak Now fan: “U wrote every single NOTE & LYRIC for Speak Now. That is not an easy feat. You deserve every bit of tonight,” Katy tweeted Taylor in 2011. Watch the video below to see for yourself.

“I think that whatever I go through in life will be directly reflected in my music,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “If I have a bunch of different experiences with a bunch of different people and some of them are good and some of them are bad and some of them are confusing, you have an album like this. You never know what I’m going to write about in the future, but for me, I have a hard time putting together an album that’s just a few emotions. I like to feel like I’ve covered every emotion that I’ve felt in the last two years.”

So, really when you look at who she was and who she is, the two really aren’t that different. She’s just had more experiences now and is embracing different emotions. Take it from me, no matter what Taylor is doing or who she’s dating (or breaking up with), she’ll always be Taylor. It’s like she sang on “Better Than Revenge”: “You might have him, but I always get the last word.” Well… in this case, I did but you get the point.

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