EXCLUSIVE! Singer-songwriter Katelyn Tarver's pitch-perfect advice to her teenage self

High-achieving, oldest daughter, diehard Swiftie girlies—have we got the album for you! Singer-songwriter Katelyn Tarver's second record Quitter just dropped today, and we can't stop replaying, thanks to its oh-so-catchy choruses and confessional lyrics (perf for belting in the shower or screaming in the car, if we do say so ourselves).

Real ones might remember Katelyn as the talented Jo Taylor from Big Time Rush, but let's just say she's grown a lot since her Nickelodeon days and the start of her music career. She talked us through her journey of creating Quitter—and shared some of the ~major~ life lessons that it helped her learn.

Look no further for Katelyn's tips for surviving high school life and making the most of the moment you're in. 

Lesson #1: Being a "quitter" might not be such a bad thing. 

The title track on Katelyn's new album says it best: "It's kind of nice to be a quitter/Giving up on who I thought that I had to be."

Ofc, Katelyn's pretty clear that this doesn't mean just throwing in the towel whenever you're faced with a sticky sitch—it means letting go of other's expectations for you. 

"Writing this album helped me see that, at points, I've lived my life for the approval of other people," she says. "I've spent a lot of energy trying to make everybody, like my parents, proud—trying to make sure that everyone's OK with me and my life choices." 

Katelyn gets that embracing who you really are—whether that means saying "see ya" to the swim team so you can pursue drama club, wearing what you want when you want or breaking away from kinda toxic friendships—is key to creating your best/happiest life.

"I'm in the stage of finding my own identity...accepting it and shedding some of that pressure," Katelyn says. Consider us "quitters" then, too! 

Lesson #2: Don't let your surroundings define you—but don't forget where you came from either.

Katelyn kinda had no choice but to be a trailblazer. She'd had her heart set on becoming a professional singer since she was a kid, but there wasn't exactly a clear path to achieving her dreams. "I grew up in Georgia, in a really small town," she says. "There weren't a lot of people around me that were pursuing any sort of career in entertainment, so I didn't really see it for myself."

Her ticket to stardom came in an unexpected form: a singing competition for teens. Suddenly, her whole POV shifted: " I got to LA and had this whirlwind experience that opened my eyes to what might be possible for me." 

But she went back to her roots to write Quitter: "I was trying to kind of make sense of my past and how it's shaped me." 

Lesson #3: Holding onto regrets? Overrated.

So we've all got things we wish we would've done differently (like that algebra quiz we were totally unprepared for...or that friend fight where you let your emotions get the best of you). But, in her song "One Without the Other," Katelyn reminds us not to let that inner critic's voice get too loud. After all, she says, "you can't have all the things you love about today without all the things that got you there."

Lesson #4: You're not the first one *and* you're not the only one.

Don't get us wrong, you're definitely serving main character energy, but sometimes it can actually be comforting to remember that you're not the only one facing tough stuff—and that those negative vibes are temporary. 

Katelyn has a mantra for when your struggles feel totally isolating and completely world-changing: “You're not the first one, you're not the only one and this won't be the last time this happens. And you'll learn as you go and you'll be stronger next time.” Brb, taking notes.

Lesson #5: Everybody (and we mean everybody) is also wondering if they're cool enough.

It can be tempting for everyone—even an obviously talented gal like Katelyn—to crave that stamp of approval from others. 

But through the process of creating Quitter, she realized something v. important: "Even the girl you think is so confident is dealing with it. Everyone's insecure, everyone's self-conscious. Everyone's wondering if they're cool, if they're lame or if they're weird." 

Once you realize everyone's kind of, uh, winging it, it's So. Much. Easier. to focus on being yourself instead of worrying about how you're perceived. "Who you are is what sets you apart," Katelyn says. "If you’re trying to be someone else or mimic someone else, then you’re getting away from your true essence."

Check out Katelyn's new album Quitter here!

More from your fave artists, right this way:
Taylor Swift just announced the tracklist for her new album The Tortured Poets Department
🎶 Kinley Cunningham is officially a solo artist—and she's revealing the story behind her newest single
🎶 Everything you missed from the 2024 Grammy Awards

Images: @katelyntarver


by Katherine Hammer and Madelon Basil | 2/9/2024