6 Stages Lifelong Britney Spears Fans Go Through, Because It's Been A Rough Road For Us All

Britney Spears. The woman, the myth, the legend. In her long and controversial career that started essentially when she came out of the womb, Brit Brit has gone through several transformations and epochs—the peak of stardom, the pit of despair. And as a child of the '90s, many of my peers and I joined her on this tumultuous ride. Even though for the better part of my adult years as a lifelong Britney Spears fan, her music has not been a big player, I still keep an eye on her because she defined so many moments for me (and for pop music!) I can't help being emotionally attached to the woman that made the "Stronger" music video.

I must admit at times I detracted, or was as harsh as the paparazzi have been on Britney. Looking back, I am ashamed. Britney has gone through it all and back and she's still swingin', baby — and as I have matured I realized that Britney occupies a special place in my heart. Even though she's one of the top-selling recording artists of all time, there are still nuances of her career that go under-appreciated—will we ever fully acknowledge that the song "Email My Heart" was so ahead of its time? Here are all the stages I've gone through being a Britney Spears fan, because we all grew up with this girl:

Infatuation

The year is 1999. I am in the 5th grade and feeling vulnerable about going to middle school next year. Then this pop princess arrives out of a pink cloud with ...Baby, One More Time, and it's one of the first compact disks I purchase on my own. The "...Baby, One More Time" video slays me. I'm in love.

Peak Devotion

"Oops!... I Did It Again" comes out in 2000 and HOLY CRAP, it's a game-changer. Especially because of its incredible music videos, of course for the title track on Mars that also somehow was about Titanic? But it's still relevant today, so who's laughing now? There was also my personal favorite, "Lucky," and "Stronger," with that bad-ass chair dance. I am now a believer.

Peak Britney

2001 - 2003 was a crazy-ass time. When middle school started I went through some different stages with my musical taste, but still, Britney was a prime player on my boombox because she was just endlessly killing the game. I mean, this is the woman who danced with a snake and made the "I'm A Slave 4 U" video which scandalized the world! It's a confusing time, puberty highlighted by Britney's sexual revolution.

Confusion And Distance

This is when things start getting strange, both on my end and on Britney's. As I start high school, Brit marries Kevin Federline, which is just pouring salt in the wound that she's no longer with Timberlake. She shaves her head, which gave birth to the sage and timeless advice that I will share with my children: "If Britney Spears can make it through 2007, you can make it through this day." She's just fallen on hard times and at the moment when I was young and judgmental I was like "SHE'S CRAZY" which I now atone for.

Empathy

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

But then... MTV released Britney: For The Record in 2008 and I watch and cry because damn this girl is brave, you know what I mean? She started filming the doc right at the beginning of her "breakdown" and talks about losing custody of her kids and being in the spotlight always and she just looked dead in the eyes and my heart broke and I wanted to give her a hug. I rescinded my previous hate and judgment and now I just want Brit Brit to be OK.

Respect

Now, Britney seems like she's just doing her thing flawlessly, you know? She's got a residency in Vegas, she's just trying to chill with her fam, and she's really good at riding a scooter. You've come a long way, Britney. Long live your legacy! We're proud of you!

Images: Giphy (3), greatbrbrblog/ Tumblr, Getty