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I have a milestone birthday to look forward to this Super Bowl Sunday.

What’s a “milestone birthday,” you ask?

Well, there are a few major ones most people look forward to.

The 16th birthday, for instance, is when most people get their licenses to drive, but is when I got my self-assigned display permit for late-onset parental-rage-induced teenage angst. It’s a medical condition I would like to have named after me because “Hiba” is easier to say than “late-onset parental-rage-induced teenage angst.”

The 18th birthday is when most people become legal adults and no longer have to worry about being mistaken for children, but is when I went from being mistaken for a 10-year-old to being mistaken for a 13-year-old.

And finally, the 21st, which is when most people look forward to cooler wristbands at clubs and bars and lording their purchasing powers over their younger friends’ heads, but is when I basically spent a year increasing my tolerance for Taco Bell.

One birthday less often mentioned— and the one I’ll be celebrating Sunday— is the 22nd, which is special only because it was the subject of a hit Taylor Swift song oh-so-appropriately named “22.”

Say what you want to about Swift. I know she’s problematic as heck, but I did grow up listening to her and still believe she’s incredibly talented. If songwriting prowess is what you’re looking for, though, maybe choose a different song. “22” is many things; an auditory masterpiece is not one of them. Because I consider it my duty to dissect less-than-appealing contributions to our society for your benefit and entertainment (and because I am a perpetually-busybut-constantly-searching-for-excuses-to-procrastinate English major) I have decided to spend my last column as a 21-year-old analyzing this bizarre pop culture phenomenon.

Here is an in-depth critical analysis of Swift’s “22,” wherein I cite a few of the more shocking lines and analyze them.

1. “It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters and make fun of our exes.”

What’s a great way to tell your ex you’re not over him in the most public, most embarrassing way possible? I believe answering that question is how Taylor came to write both this line and the song as a whole. Girls, if your idea of a perfect birthday is one in which, not only do you spend your night making fun of your ex but you also show up in clothes that mock him? You need some deep self-reflection. And a hobby.

2. “It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight.”

I’m not saying that I speak for every 20+ year old— but breakfast at midnight is rarely a good thing. It’s usually preceded by a long night partying, or studying until your brain is leaking out of your ears and only a blueberry waffle and covered hash brown will patch it back up. Literally the one and only day of the year that I would be opposed to “breakfast at midnight” is my birthday. I hesitate to ask this (because she might respond with another album) but who hurt you, Taylor?

3. “We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.”

10/10 scientists would probably agree this isn’t possible. I blame the unnecessary midnight breakfast you just devoured.

4. “Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22.”

Again, 10/10 scientists would most definitely agree that this statement is false. Dancing like you’re 22 for the rest of your life will not solve all your problems and will likely only add more with time (sore feet, age-obsessed delusion, etc.)

5. “It seems like one of those night we ditch the whole scene and end up dreaming instead of sleeping.”

This is one line that I actually like because its far more complex than it appears on the surface. What do this line and an ogre have in common? A lack of adequate social skills! And layers! You have a lot of words exhibiting double meanings. Both “dreaming” and “sleeping” are used literally— as in, the typical REM sleep phase— and metaphorically— as in, reaching for the stars (sorry) instead of accepting mundanity.

6. “You look like bad news. I gotta have you, I gotta have you.”

Based on this line alone, we totally should have seen “Reputation” coming.


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