It all began on a lazy Wednesday when I got the text from Adam, who works at MTV: "Hey Hanli, are you a Swifty?" it said. My head instinctively scoffed out an *LOL*. "On most days, yes," I replied. "Why?"
Adam paused… three little dots on the screen… "Cool, because you're going to London to watch Taylor Swift for her Reputation tour."
That same voice in my head then went "HECK YES!!"
Fast forward a few weeks and there I was, sitting on a plane en-route to London town. I'd been pondering why my initial reaction was to laugh at the suggestion of being a Swiftie. I've been listening to Taylor for most of my life, have I not?
When her first mega hit 'Tear Drops on My Guitar' dropped in 2006 – when I was 12 – I definitely had it on my iPod. When 'Love Story' was jamming through our airwaves in 2008, I knew all the lyrics 100%, and still do.
I'd joined MTV a few months after she dropped her Red album, and we were talking about all her music videos, rocking out to every single one of them.
Her album 1989 introduced us to 'Shake It Off' which is one of my all-time guilty pop-pleasures. It never really occurred to me till I thought about it: Taylor's music has been there with me through some very key years of my life.
Maybe my hesitancy to commit to Taylor was because of my admitted following of the tabloids.
It's no secret that the girl has hit the headlines hard over the years following her every move, her every boyfriend, breakup, coffee sip and Twitter tweet. Maybe it was rumours and stories (like the recent controversy surrounding her involvement with Kanye West) that caused my fandom for Taylor to halt.
To summarise my feelings, I guess I was on the fence about her. I felt she was a bit two-faced. I liked her songs, but I hated the sneakiness.
Arriving in London, we check in to the hotel and settle in for a good sleep, bracing for the next day.
It's show day of Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour 2018, and we're on our way to the iconic Wembley Stadium. As we get closer our excitement builds. We learn the show is sold-out: 80,000 attendees in the house tonight.
It's summertime in the UK, so even though it's already 7pm there's very much light outside. We can see Taylor's fans in their full glory walking around.
There are Taylor lookalikes, snake costumes, glittery bomber jackets, lots and lots of red lipstick and, of course, her iconic cat ear headbands.
We settle into our seats and notice a commotion at the standing area below us: oh my lord, it's Taylor's MOM! She's being mobbed for photos by fans. The originator of Taylor... to the Swifties she must be a god!
Touring with Taylor are Charli XCX and Camilla Cabello. The two Cs do their thing on stage and get the crowed hyped up. The screams are growing and the girl power is strong... there is tension and buzz in the still-sunny UK summer sky... and then BAM!
Smoke, cheers, theatrics – the stage doors slide open and out struts Ms Swift.
Taylor starts the night strong with her latest hits from Reputation. Her makeup and costumes are dark and bold. The crowd loses it when an inflatable snake grows to five-storeys on stage during 'Look What You Made Me Do'.
We're not even halfway in, and I'm already feeling it. She plays a medley of hits from her younger days – the days of the "old Taylor," before she couldn't come to the phone because she's dead. By now, everyone's singing along to every lyric like a giant karaoke session.
There are a few outfit changes and acoustic Taylor takes the stage. Her makeup is now softer, and she looks almost angelic. She's playing solo with her piano and she's talking to the crowd openly about how much she appreciates everyone here. My heart strings feel a little tug.
Then it happens: the turning point of my conversion to Taylorism. Taylor looks up from her piano and spends several minutes scanning the crowd. She locks eyes with fans and takes in the sea of people. In that moment you can feel her genuine love for the crowd.
Her eyes swell up with happy tears and she no longer looks like some mega-multi-platinum star. For those genuine and real few minutes, Taylor looks like a normal girl who is living her dream.
Taylor Swift was freaking AWESOME! She is a total superstar and I am so happy I caught her live at her Reputation tour here in London.. I don't even care about pretending to be too cool for Taylor - she's my girl 🐍 She played her latest hits, stuff from Red, 1989 and even some serious throwbacks from her country days. Check out my stories and @mtvasia for more juice 😉 #mtvasia #taylorswift #reputationtour
With the show over we walk out in awe, gushing endless praise over how "UH-AMAZZINNGG" she was. I'm feeling light, happy and at peace with my new confirmed status.
This is it, this is me now. It's in 2018, over a decade after my introduction to that sweet curly haired country singer, that I walk out of Wembley Stadium a confident fan of Miss Taylor Swift.
– Words by Hanli Hoefer
Special thanks to Universal Music Singapore for setting this up!