01/27/2009 at 10:00 AM EST
She may be country music's darling, but Taylor Swift
's life wasn't always so sweet.
"Junior high was actually sort of hard because I got dumped by this group of popular girls," the singer-songwriter, 19, tells Teen Vogue
for its March issue, on sale Feb. 3.
"They didn't think I was cool or pretty enough, so they stopped talking to me."
Another reason she was singled out? "The kids at school thought it was weird that I liked country [music]," she says. "They'd make fun of me."
But all that changed in ninth grade when she moved from her hometown in Pennsylvania to Nashville and scored a record deal.
A year into her career, Swift returned to perform in the place where earlier she'd been mocked – and saw the girls who made her feel so badly about herself.
"They showed up, wearing my T-shirts and asking me to sign their CDs," says Swift. "It was bittersweet, because it made me realize that they didn't remember being mean to me and that I needed to forget about it, too."
Besides, she says, "Really, if I hadn't come home from school miserable every day, maybe I wouldn't have been so motivated to write songs. I should probably thank them!"
Inside Taylor's pretty in pink 18th birthday party! RELATED GAME:
Play matchmaker to the stars of country music in Love Connection! RELATED GALLERY:
From Tim & Faith to Keith & Kenny, read more about country music stars