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10 Days of Taylor: That time Taylor Swift liked me on Instagram

A screengrab from Tampa Bay Times designer Tara McCarty's Instagram page, showing a like from Taylor Swift, a.k.a. @taylorswift.
A screengrab from Tampa Bay Times designer Tara McCarty's Instagram page, showing a like from Taylor Swift, a.k.a. @taylorswift.
Published Oct. 23, 2015

(Welcome to 10 Days of Taylor, our epic countdown to the epic finale of the most epic pop tour of all time: Taylor Swift's 1989 Tour, stopping Halloween Night at Raymond James Stadium. For all of our Taylor Swift coverage, click here.)

Last year, I went to Target to get Taylor Swift's 1989 at 8 a.m. I think my friend (her name is also Taylor) and I were the first customers at Target that morning.

I'm a big Taylor Swift fan, but tend to feel self-conscious about taking it all so seriously. We got the CDs and I had to ask an employee if they had the T-shirts in the back because they weren't out on display. I needed it to cover my fangirl, which was showing.

Anyway, we hopped in the car to pop it in and listen, and took a selfie with it, of course. While Welcome to New York was playing, I posted the photo on Instagram.

Within minutes, my phone was blowing up. Taylor Swift had liked my photo on Instagram.

Fangirls who had reached higher levels than I could ever go were stalking which photos Swift liked, and bombarded my account with likes and pleas for me to follow them and "omg tay like" comments. It was thrilling. I definitely had the doe-eyed look of, "OMG is this really happening to me?" — much like Swift herself at awards shows.

Some skeptic in my life asked if it was even her that liked it. I double checked and yes, it was her account. (I know, because it's the one I follow). And everyone knows Taylor likes direct interaction with her fans. That's no assistant posting for her on that app.

Fast forward a couple hours. I was at work and my phone was still going crazy. I had to turn off notifications. In the end, I had 298 likes. By no means is that a lot for celebrity or even niche Instagram accounts, but it was a lot for me. Even a year later, some of those fanatics still follow me (not that they've liked anything since).

I remember wondering at the time what Taylor Swift liking my photo even meant to me as a person. What did it matter? It didn't validate anything. It didn't make me better than anyone else. All it meant was that Swift was being human and probably liking hundreds of fan photos in her excitement. I just got "lucky" with timing and a decent photo.

So when I go to the show and I'm sitting in my 12th-row seat dressed as ringmaster Taylor Swift (from her 2012 MTV EMAs performance of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together), and I'm waving a big, glittery heart poster around, of course I'm hoping she or Mama Swift or another handler will spot me and my squad and take us backstage.

But would it validate anything? No. Though it might be my most magical night of 2015, the next day will just be another Sunday.

-- Tara McCarty