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I was in eighth grade when my best friend Sarah told me to listen to Ed Sheeran. At first, I laughed, thinking he was some frat guy with a guitar solely based off of his name. She insisted, and so I gave him a chance.

His first album, +, was probably one of the first times in my life that I really felt something towards music. While all my friends were going crazy over the pop sounds of One Direction or thinking they were cool for listening to Nicki Minaj, I was devouring the acoustic sound of Ed.

The first time I heard one of his songs on the radio was the following year as my mom drove me to school. It was on Sirius XM, not even the mainstream radio, and I had never been happier. That same year, I went to a Taylor Swift concert just so I could see Ed open for her. I even bought my first band tee ever at that concert.

When he announced his next album, x, I immediately pre-ordered it on iTunes. When it came out in 2014, I wasn’t in much of a different place in my life, but Ed was. A lot of his songs were more fun and upbeat. Granted, he still had some haunting songs on that album, but it seemed the days of singing about prostitutes and miscarriages were long gone.

I saw him once again in concert on the x tour, and I thought he was electric in front of a live audience. He was more comfortable on a large stage now, and I could have stood for hours on end just to hear him talk to everyone in that stadium more.

Ed took a year off in 2016 to write and escape the media. In this time, he traveled and stayed with family and fell in love. In this same time, I had been dumped roughly three times, moved away from the place I called home, and I left for school. When ÷ was released, I pre-ordered the album as well. His singles off the album were not my favorite, but I had thought the same about x. I was holding out hope that I would grow to like it just about as much as I did with x.

To be blunt; I don’t like ÷. I listened to it all last summer, trying to find some part of the whole album that I felt connected to like I had before. After months and months of going over every piece of the music, every word in the lyrics, I realized that there was nothing for me there.

Even if I don’t like ÷, it doesn’t mean I don’t like Ed Sheeran anymore. As a listener and a consumer, I have had to realize that Ed’s life and my whole have gone in two different directions. Once, when I felt like I could relate to what he was saying so much, I was not too different from who I am still.

Ed, on the other hand, has changed drastically. He no longer is sleeping on people’s couches for free and selling CDs out of his backpack. He’s engaged and happy and still loves making music. As a huge fan of his, I would feel wrong saying that what he is creating now is “bad” or calling him a “sell-out”. As a supporter of his and his discography, I feel the need to stand by him no matter what. Just because I don’t like everything he makes now doesn’t mean what he’s making isn’t good.

I always remind my friends of the point when it comes to arguing about music. The main topic is always The Beatles, in the great early-vs-later Beatles debate. The Beatles created two very different sounds for themselves during their run, but to say something of theirs is bad or that you don’t support it isn’t being a very good fan of theirs at all.

We all have different tastes and so do artists. They grow and evolve the same way we do because they are human beings capable of change. To always ask them to be the same, to create the same thing over and over, to ask Ed Sheeran to continue making sad lyrics when he no longer feels that way isn’t helping him any.

I might not buy his newer albums, I may never see him in concert again, but will I be happy when I see that he is happy? That he is still chasing his dream with the same passion as when he started? Of course, I will.