Taylor Swift entered country music at a time when other young female singers were also looking to make their mark. But instead of seeing her peers as competition, Taylor considers them to be friends. She trades text messages with Miranda Lambert, and one of her BFF's (and songwriting partners) Kellie Pickler is opening dates on the 19-year old's 'Fearless' summer tour.

"I'd have a lot less friends if I were competitive," Taylor tells the Deseret News. "I feel like it's so much more fun to think of these girls as friends and hang out with them [than] to feel like there is constant competition. I compete with myself."

Still, Taylor, who was 14 when her parents moved with her to Nashville, admits she has never felt entitled to have a place in country music, adding that she constantly strives to learn more about the music business, and continues to work hard at what she does.

"I know things are really good now, but I know if I don't work and plan ahead and think about the moves I make, I know I could become irrelevant," says the singer, who also works at maintaining control of her music and her own personal style.

"I don't feel like I'm in an image mold," she adds. "I've been able to wear the clothes I like wearing. They don't try to straighten my hair. And I get to write my music."

Still, some things have changed, concedes the singer whose recent activities included giving fans a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse at her whirlwind life on a Dateline NBC TV special. "My life is a whole lot different than a couple years ago," she says. "Every day is a pleasant surprise. I never thought this would happen."