Taylor Swift wrote this song about loneliness at the age of 12 soon after she'd received her first guitar.
Taylor Swift in Entertainment Weekly: ''I wrote that about the scariest feeling I've ever felt: going to school, walking down the hall, looking at all those faces, and not knowing who you're gonna talk to that day. People always ask, How did you have the courage to walk up to record labels when you were 12 or 13? It's because I could never feel the kind of rejection in the music industry that I felt in middle school.''
Swift expanded on the loneliness she felt at the age of 12, which prompted her to write this song: "This is one of the first songs I ever wrote, and it talks about the very reason I ever started to write songs. It was when I was twelve years old, and a complete outcast at school. I was a lot different than all the other kids, and I never really knew why. I was taller, and sang country music at karaoke bars and festivals on weekends while other girls went to sleepovers. Some days I woke up not knowing if anyone was going to talk to me that day. I think every person comes to a point in their life when you have a long string of bad days. You can choose to let it drag you down, or you can find ways to rise above it. I came to the conclusion that even though people hadn't always been there for me, music had. It's strange to think how different my life would be right now if I had been one of the cool kids."
After writing "The Outside," the 12-year-old Swift noted in her diary, "I don't know if it'll go anywhere, but it made me feel better."