Lost in Translation: All Too Well and Self-Acceptance

Taylor Swift is arguably the biggest music artist in the world right now. With ten successful albums, a large fanbase, and incredible songs, she has built quite a reputation and is always growing. However, one song in particular has caught the hearts of many: All Too Well. This song tells the story of Taylor’s relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal and her journey of self acceptance after the breakup. Millions of people can relate to this idea and have experienced something similar before. Self acceptance takes a long time to be able to do, and All Too Well expresses it perfectly. Recently, a ten-minute version of the song was released with a short film and expands on her experience using compelling lyrics and wonderful storytelling.

The Beginning

At the start of a relationship, everything may seem perfect. You are happy and filled with bliss, maybe being blinded for a short time. In All Too Well, this is shown throughout the song in these lyrics.

“We’re singing in the car, getting lost upstate
Autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place”

“You told me ’bout your past, thinking your future was me”

This was far before the relationship became draining. During the entire song, Taylor constantly goes back to this time like a flashback.


As the song progresses, this infatuation starts to fade away. The protagonists are still in love, but not nearly as happy due to some realizations and specific events. In the short film, this event is a dinner party. As “Taylor,” portrayed by Sadie Sink, reaches for her partner’s hand, he pulls away to continue a conversation with his older friends from college. After a discussion, he claims that he is the victim, which is completely untrue. He then goes on to blame Taylor and says she is attacking him for something he doesn’t even remember, and calls her selfish. However, he apologizes saying “I’m sorry” repeatedly in an uninterested tone.

Kitchen Fight Scene Screenplay (Explicit Language)

This is one of the early fights of the couple. In a poem, Having a Fight With You by Patrick Phillips, the feeling of arguing with your significant other is expressed. It describes a fight as very violent acts like being burned in an elevator, drowned and flipped in an SUV, and walking with scalpels across your chest. I can imagine this was how Taylor felt at this moment, especially given the event that happened just before.

Being Drained

Throughout the relationship, a common theme was that Jake didn’t appreciate Taylor as much as she did. In All Too Well, she shows this by her use of metaphors and other comparisons.

“‘Til we were dead and gone and buried
Check the pulse and come back swearing it’s the same
After three months in the grave
And then you wondered where it went to as I reached for you
But all I felt was shame and you held my lifeless frame”

“You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath”

“I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here”

In other words, she feels as though she has been the only one who truly cares about the other, and genuinely tries to work out their problems. This process is obviously mentally draining and hard to manage alone. As explained in the Metaphor presentation, metaphors are extremely useful in writing to add more detail. Taylor obviously uses metaphors very well in this and every one of her other songs. Like she says in All Too Well, having a partner like Jake Gyllenhaal makes you feel like a “crumpled up piece of paper” and uses another metaphor to describe their dead relationship. Also, she sings “You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath” to explain how much she cherished her partner but he didn’t do the same.

Acceptance and Remembering

By the time the song ends, Taylor is able to accept herself and not be reliant on a partner. In addition, she acknowledges that she will never be the same again by saying “I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it.” Still, she is able to move on from the point in her life when someone took her for all she had.

In the film Spirited Away, the mythical world drained almost all the energy of Chihiro when she was trying to rescue her parents and return home. She had to work extremely hard to prove herself to Yubaba and everyone who was trying to make her fail. All she wanted was to be happy with those she loved, just like Taylor. At the end of both the song and movie, they are both able to achieve their goals and leave the situations they’re stuck in.

All in all, accepting yourself is a long process and difficult in so many ways. Everyone’s journey is always a little different as well. Though at times you may feel alone, All Too Well has helped people realize they are not. Taylor showed this idea perfectly and her song, like many others, has become a favorite for many.

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