“I… got it from a friend’s music.”

I remember when I’d religiously use that excuse. I was scared, fearful of being judged.

I don’t know for sure if it ever actually worked on anybody, but I suppose that wasn’t really important at the time. Here I was, once again, a victim in the discovery of embarrassing music. Put simply, let’s just say my library has a fair share of what some might call “guilty pleasure” songs.

“You have Taylor Swift’s Complete 1989 Deluxe Edition?” my friend asked.

“Oh yea, uh… my cousin put that on there.” was my genius response. Surely it couldn’t have gotten there by my own right.

“…Blank Space has 79 plays.”

Well, if that wasn’t a sucker punch to any comebacks I had left, I don’t know what was. Now I had no choice but to try my hardest to explain myself.

“Okay yeah, now and then I listen to it ironically, but who doesn’t do that?”

Blah. Blah. Blah. I went on. I fucking labored trying to justify this to people. I was so convinced that I had to, like it actually mattered. Maybe it was denial, or maybe I wasn’t even sure why I liked it – who knew?

For some reason, our weird culture places stigmas on certain types of music, and that’s just that. We can’t listen to what we want to without feeling like we’re being critically analyzed and looked down upon. Even with 13,679 songs on my laptop, one “girly” pop song is still enough to subject me to interrogation.

But the next time this happened and I was confronted about my music (circa 86 plays), I was at my wit’s end with explaining myself and the contents of my iTunes. It’s music. It’s just fucking music. It sounds good to some people and shitty to others.

“Fuck yeah, it’s #3 in my Top Rated” was my response this time. I brushed my teeth to that shit. I beat that dead horse into the ground. I lived it. I listened to that song, and for the first time, I owned it.

But that didn’t happen overnight.

There were still many more painstaking, poorly-thought-out excuses made before then, like “it was part of my homework for music class” and “my obnoxious cousin must have put it on there.” Time and time again, I hid how I really felt, for reasons I honestly don’t even know.

What I do know is that I eventually ran out of fucks to give. I got over the whole thing. I’ve grown immensely tired of needing explanations for something so insignificant that has literally no bearing on anyone else’s life. After hearing it so many times, I was bound to build up some sort of immunity. I feel as close to nothing as I can imagine when someone questions my music now. It’s second nature.

I’m fully aware that my music tastes are erratic, and sometimes that means jamming out to the same top 40 anthems that I secretly know really aren’t that good. Yes, it’s a strange catch-22 (why would you listen to it if you know it’s not good?), but truthfully, the fact that Call Me Maybe sometimes makes its way onto my shuffle playlist matters about as much as knowing I had a turkey sandwich for lunch yesterday (hint: it really doesn’t).

There’s just no point in trying to mask it any longer. Life is stressful enough without having to be on edge about the sounds that come through your headphones. We’re all entitled to our opinions and, as they say, “hater’s gonna hate.”

Let people listen to whatever they want to. If you don’t like it, don’t torture the person who does.