Courtesy PEOPLEAs Taylor Swift prepares to turn 30 on December 13, she says the past 12 months have really made an impact on her.

Taylor covers People‘s annual People of the Year issue, one of four honorees for 2019, including Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez

“This year feels more special to me than any year before it,” Taylor tells the mag.  “Fifteen years into doing this, being able to look around and acknowledge that it’s special, I’m really stoked this moment can happen when I’m 29. That’s one of the benefits of starting when you’re 12!”

One reason 2019’s been great for her, Taylor explains, is because “this is the first time I’ve been able to put out music that I feel is connecting with people, yet look back on everything I’ve made and feel a quiet sense of pride. I’m proud of the things I’ve withstood, and I’ve been able to carve out a life for myself.”

Speaking of her current music, Taylor explains, “Lover ended up being the album [where I was no longer] answering to something. In the past, I’ve definitely used my criticism as a jumping-off point for creativity. With reputation, I’d said everything I needed to say.”

“I’d been tried in every possible way people could throw things at me, and I felt like now I just get to create.”

Taylor also tells People that one of her favorite books of 2019 was Demi Moore‘s memoir, Inside Out.

“I was thinking about how when she was the highest-paid actress, she was just punished ruthlessly for it. That’s so wrong, and she was treated so badly in that moment,” says Taylor. “I feel like finally she’s getting the last laugh.”

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