She's focused, fearless, and a little in shock.
"I don't think, in a million years, if you told my mom, or my record label, or me, that all of this would have happened, I just would have laughed," she tells CBS News anchor Katie Couric during a recent shopping trip in New York City.
At age 11, Taylor convinced her mother to take her to Nashville's Music Row.
"I would get out of the car and walk into the record labels and hand the receptionist my demo CD and say, 'Hi, I'm Taylor.'"
She says she wasn't taken seriously. "I had to figure out a way to make myself different. That's about the time I wrote my first song."
"I think I fell in love with words before I fell in love with music. All I wanted to do was talk," she says.
Taylor talked her parents into moving the whole family from their Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania to Nashville, Tenn. Within a year, she had a songwriting contract.
Couric: So you were 14, your after school activity was going down to Music Row and writing songs with mostly 20- and 30- and 40-year-olds.
Taylor: Yeah. It was sort of like having a double life. And it was basically like during the daytime I was 15 and I had to be 40 after school!
Writing songs for other artists made Taylor feel as if she was giving too much away. "I loved writing songs, but they were so personal that I couldn't see anyone else singing them."
Scott Borchetta and Taylor Swift were both unproven talents the night they met at Nashville's famed Bluebird Café.
"There were several other record companies that were in the room. And I'm looking around. I'm going, 'I hope none of these other guys are getting it,'" Borchetta says.
Borchetta signed the young singer as his first client for his new record label.
Her first album, "Taylor Swift," peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums Chart and spent eight consecutive weeks at the top of the Top Country Albums chart. Two years later, her album "Fearless," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. Its single, "Love Story," is a country and pop hit.
"It feels amazing, I can't believe it, like a childhood dream come true right now," she says of a banner celebrating her latest No. 1 hit.
Taylor's rise has been swift, but unlike other young celebrities, a fall doesn't seem likely. "I'm not ever gonna be that person that's, like, really into partying. It just isn't really in my makeup. I'm not drawn to that."
But there have been some bumps along the way.
"I had a group of friends when I was about 12. [Then] they all just decided they didn't wanna hang out with me anymore. I would go and sit down at the lunch table with my friends. And they would get up and move their trays to another table, which is not fun to go through," she reveals to Couric. "So at that point, all I had was my mom."
Couric: They were really mean to you, these girls?
Swift: They were mean. Let's say that had [they] kept me in their group, and I had been the most popular girl in middle school, I would never have been inspired to write one song.
Couric: So I guess we need to call them and thank them.
Swift: We need to call them and [say], "Hey, thank you!"
Years later, Taylor put that experience to words in "The Best Day," a song she wrote for her mom, Andrea -- her constant companion and best friend.
"All I ever wanted to do was write songs that mean something to people," she says.
Andrea describes the song as bittersweet. "It's memories of things that were wonderful and things not so wonderful."
It seems Taylor's songs touch everyone. Critics say she writes with wisdom well beyond her years.
Swift: I don't think you should ever be afraid of honesty and of being honest that you're not perfect, and that you do feel vulnerable sometimes. I just happen to write about it.
Couric: Has it been tough to be in the spotlight and have all aspects of your life dissected? Your boyfriends, your breakups, and all sorts of things?
Swift: The dissection is kind of interesting. That's sort of a new thing.
Her very public breakup with Jonas Brother Joe Jonas has taught her it's OK to keep some things to herself.
"It's been kind of weird having people actually care and actually delve more into it," she says.
We did a little digging too. It seems there is a dark side to Taylor Swift.
"My dream is to die on 'CSI.' I've always wanted to, like, be one of the characters on there that they're tryin' to figure out what happened to."
Her dream is coming true. Without giving too much away, she'll appear on an upcoming episode of the CBS drama, but her character isn't quite living the dream... the way Taylor is.