When I started thinking about the possibility of Rookie a year or so ago, it seemed like a good venue for pure aesthetic enjoyment and smart, fun writing. As my freshman year of high school progressed, I found myself needing something that could be more than that. I suppose that was a result of some experiences specific to me, and some more typical among females my age. But I don’t want to even think about what makes someone “just your average teenage girl,” or whether I fit that mold, or if that’s who will read Rookie. It seems that entire industries are based on answering these very questions. Who is the typical teenage girl? What does she want? (And, a lot of the time, How can we get her allowance?)

I don’t have the answers. Rookie is not your guide to Being a Teen. It is not a pamphlet on How to Be a Young Woman. (If it were, it would be published by American Girl and your aunt would’ve given it to you in the fifth grade.) It is, quite simply, a bunch of writing and art we like and believe in. While there’s always danger in generalizing a whole group of people, I do think some experiences are somewhat universal to being a teenager, specifically a female one. Rookie is a place to make the best of the beautiful pain and cringe-worthy awkwardness of being an adolescent girl. When it becomes harder to appreciate these things, we also have good plain fun and visual pleasure. When you’re sick of having to be happy all the time, we have lots of eye-rolling rants, too.

Infinite big fat thank-you’s to late-night superhero Anaheed Alani, life- and butt-saver Emily Condon, Cool Dad Ira Glass, fairy godmother Jane Pratt, my dad, our amazing site-building team, and all of our wonderful writers, photographers, illustrators, collagers, and thinkers. All of these rascals agreed to take part in this project before there was the slightest possibility of paying them in grownup cash and not candy and mix CDs. THIS IS AMAZING. Do you know how much human beings like money?? We’ve got a special bunch here! They have dug deep into their hearts and souls and Netflix Instant queues to provide the wonderful content for this site, so please, please respect what they have to say. If something rubs you the wrong way, tell us, but be levelheaded and thoughtful. Internet fighting is not only redundant, it makes other people too shy to share what they want.

On that note, do feel free to mosey on over to our You page, where you’ll find out where to submit your writing, brag about how great your friend is, ask questions about frizzy hair, and much more I won’t list here in case it overwhelms your brain.

We post three times a day: roughly when school ends, when dinner starts and when it’s really late and you should be writing a paper but are Facebook stalking instead. (Oh. It’s just me who does that? Cool.) (Also, LIAR.) Every month of this site will be a differently themed issue, and our theme for September is “Beginnings.” Firsts and starts and back-to-school, etc. And, of course, the beginning of Rookie.

From here, you write your own handbook.