Hi, I'm Jackie and I'm a grown up punk who genuinely adores Taylor Swift. Note: If you think this picture is embarrassing, just wait.

Until 9th grade, I was pretty much the definition of un-cool: a nerdy asthmatic who got  straight A's, wore oversized Elmo t-shirts and listened to a lot of broadway soundtrack CDs. I didn't have a ton of friends, as you can probably imagine. I was also an only child, so I had no older siblings to school me on cool things, and my mom listened to a lot of Natalie Cole and wore denim shorts with jingle bells on the pockets. I started off with a bit of a disadvantage, okay?

In 1999, though, something happened: I discovered punk rock. On my way to the hobby store to buy myself some new pogs (what up, 1999 nerds!) I decided to make a stop into 'Slipped Disc,' my neighborhood's local record shop. This was an act of extreme bravery, as it meant navigating my way through a dense crowd of cool, older punks. I don't know how I worked up the nerve, but I vividly remember zipping up my hoodie to cover my novelty "Friends" t-shirt, before entering.


I spent my pog money on a compilation called 'Punk-o-Rama 4,' and popped it into my discman on the way home, promptly falling in love with a band called The Bouncing Souls. At the time, I was head-over-heels for a guy who went by "Nirvana Vinny," because of his army jacket covered in 1" pins of the recently deceased Kurt Cobain. He didn't know I existed, obviously. "I'm a hopeless romantic," crooned the Souls into my perpetually-hot-with-embarrassment, impressionable ears. "You're just hopeless."

After that, my allowance budget altered dramatically, and I became a regular at the now-defunct record shop. I credit the cool-older-cousin archetypes who worked there with my musical education; they took me under their wing after the first few times I purchased something crappy, and started pointing out the good stuff. One week, the girl with the bleached mohawk presented me with a mix cd and a Smith's 'Meat is Murder' bumper sticker. "Hm. Maybe it is," I remember thinking.

Pretty soon I was well-educated in the ways of punk life, and spent most of my time at local shows. I developed a whole new group of friends, got into a pretty large amount of trouble including getting expelled and sent to 'bad kid's school,' and officially joined the ranks of the cool kids. I mean, maybe we weren't the cool kids, but we were awesome. Okay, so really most people were scared of us, because we did things like throw 40s of Old E at cop cars, but we thought we were super cool. F the police, etc, etc. I was angry about so many things, and punk gave me a way to channel that anger into action, and look cool doing it. I mean, can't you tell how cool I thought I was:

If you've never been a cool kid you might not know this, but being cool is serious business. It's easy to screw up. For all it's rewards, becoming a cool kid means giving up some things: it's not okay to play with pogs, and it's definitely not okay to own an Ace of Base CD. In high school, though, being cool seems like the most important thing in the world, so I gladly stuffed all of my novelty shirts into the goodwill dumpster and told my mom I had "lost" them. Moms are so gullible.

These former interests didn't disappear, they just became secret, guilty pleasures as I navigated the carefully-curated time of our lives known as the teenage years. In college, I got really into art and the New York Hardcore scene, and the guilty pleasures were buried even deeper. Despite how well I hid it, though, I still loved a lot of it. There's a reason why they call it pop music. It's popular. Insecurity and the desire to belong makes us waste a whole lot of time, huh?

Now approaching 30, I like myself a lot. You know why? Liking stuff is way more fun that hating it, and that includes liking yourself. I'm eternally grateful to punk for helping me find a place to belong at a time when so many kids don't have one. With the exception of some heavily-soaked-in-nostalgia anthems, though, my punk rock playlist has been mostly replaced by music that is pleasant to listen to. I mean, that's the idea behind punk anyway -- it's not supposed to sound good, it's supposed to be a rejection of what sounds "good." People don't look awesome with mohawks because they're beautiful, they look awesome because they're saying they don't care what you think is "beautiful," and confidence rules.

At it's best, the punk community provided a place for people to explore those choices. At it's worst, it simply created an alternative recipe for cool-ness which was arguably more constricting in it's definition. The best thing about adulthood is that you get to not care anymore. Sometimes I look like a normal person:

And sometimes I look like I am out of my mind:

In the spirit of that earned confidence, I would like to start out the New Year with the following resolution: I will no longer be using the term "guilty pleasure." I'm done.

As proof, here's a list of 5 things that I genuinely like, and you can all go to hell:

1. Taylor Swift -- She's cute, sweet, makes catchy, uplifting music and hasn't been jaded by her success yet.

2. Staying home and watching movies sometimes -- Despite how fun the single life can be, going to bars gets really boring and expensive, and I like my apartment.

3. Nerdy board games -- I own both Settlers of Catan and Dominion. FIGHT ME I DON'T CARE.

4. Some very, very select pop country music -- Miranda Lambert is a sexy badass:

5. Smoothies -- I blame my year living in Vermont for this. Sometimes I even put spinach in them. We'll see who's laughing when I am 104-years-old and still listening to the Bouncing Souls.

Happy New Year, everyone. What's your secret guilty pleasure?

Jackie Mancini is the associate editor of GuySpeed and an unabashed lover of large breasts, porno, foul mouths and loud music. Her childhood diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is most likely responsible for her current position as the only female employee of a men’s website. Her column ‘The [Fairer Se]X Files’ appears every Wednesday. You can read more of her work here, and you can also follow her on Twitter.