Live Through This

On Taking Yourself Seriously

If you were my middle school health teacher, you’ll want to read this.

Illustration by Cynthia

Friends: gather around, now. I’m going to tell you a story about the value of taking yourself seriously.

When I was in seventh grade, I had the worst health teacher in the entire world. I find it important, at this juncture, to tell you his actual name, which was Mr. Dusenbury. Because here is the truth about Mr. Dusenbury: he was mean and sexist, and during every single class, he would launch into a tirade about how women were worse than men.* We were smaller, we were weaker, we had terrible hormones that made us crazy, and we would never be able to compete with men professionally, because we were all going to get pregnant and stop working to raise our babies, which was what nature intended us to do, and, and, and…

I tried to fight him on it. But he would just tell me to DO SOME ONE-ARMED PUSH-UPS THEN IF I WAS SO EQUAL TO MEN; HE COULD DO ONE-ARMED PUSH-UPS, COULD I??? So I just started tuning him out. I don’t recommend this strategy, generally; I believe you should always pay attention, in every class, unless “paying attention” means dealing with one more second of Mr. Dusenbury. And, in my case, it did. So I would show up for the part where he told me how intestines worked, and when the “Ladies: Actually Terrible at Having Intestines” portion began, I would start writing in my notebook or reading a novel.

When Mr. Dusenbury caught me, he took the book I was reading, held it up in front of the class, and ripped it in half. I told him he had no right to do that; he did the one-armed push-ups speech; I told him that maybe he should have spent some time learning to teach instead of perfecting his one-armed push-up skills; he sent me to the principal.

The principal asked me why I had this terrible habit of writing instead of listening to misogynist rants. And I told him that I wrote because I was going to be a writer, in New York, and I was probably specifically going to write about how sexism was wrong. And he said this:

“The thing is, that’s just extremely unlikely to happen. And you’re going to have a really hard life, if you just decide not to listen to people that you personally feel are sexist.”

“When it happens,” I said, “I’ll send you the story about Mr. Dusenbury.”

Which: What a ridiculous thing for a fourteen-year-old to say! So immature! So grandiose! Such a typical, adolescent fantasy! I am sure my principal laughed himself to sleep that night. Yes, yes, you’re going to become a writer, and tell everyone how awful this school was, and then we’ll be sorry. Good luck, little girl. I am quaking in my sensible shoes, right now!

Dear Mr. Dusenbury and the principal: My mother will be mailing the school a printed copy of this article, along with my C.V. and a list of the awards and recognition I have won for (a) writing, and (b) writing specifically about sexism, and (c) not listening to sexist authorities when I wrote about sexism. I will be happy to accept either your signed apology, or the school’s apology on your behalf. You may also consider making me a big, festive banner, reading “OK, You Win.” Although, should you wish to send this victory banner to me directly, you will need to ask my mother for my precise address. BECAUSE IT IS IN NEW YORK CITY, THAT IS WHY.

There is a point to all this, besides the fact that no competent professional would ever hire someone like Mr. Dusenbury and put him alone in a room with small children. The point is that, for anyone—but especially for girls— it can be very hard to hold on to your ambition. Even now, when it’s pretty much taken for granted that most girls will grow up to have jobs, girls are still discouraged from taking their desires for accomplishment too seriously.

Because accomplishment is hard. And accomplishment, on some basic level, is pretty selfish. To really devote yourself to achieving something—anything: becoming a writer, becoming a lawyer, becoming the world’s best mini-golf player—you have to have a vision of what you want, and you have to want it fiercely, and you have to be able to throw your whole weight behind getting it. But girls aren’t supposed to care that much about what they want for themselves. Like my awful, awful health teacher used to say: we’re supposed to put our own ambitions aside, and focus on other people. And those other people don’t even have to be babies! Consider the difference between a guy who stays in every weekend to practice guitar, and a girl who does the same thing. The guy is a brooding, intense, passionate musician. The girl is just unpopular.

That’s all a load of crap. Ambition is great. Wanting things is great. Being willing to work hard to get what you want, being willing to make sacrifices in order to fulfill your own dreams: that is all super great, and admirable, and you are going to need it. Because here’s the thing: your ambitions and desires for accomplishment are what allow you to have a sense of self. If you don’t have a sense of what you want from life, it’s easy to just define yourself around other people, and to do whatever they seem to want from you. And other people can take away their approval, at any time. But when you provide your own approval— when you know what you want, and know you have what it takes to get it—you have a basis for feeling good about yourself that doesn’t go away.

Right now, you are in one of the world’s most enviable positions. You are a teenager. What that means is that you are smart enough and mature enough to start thinking about what you want to do with your life, but you are also young enough to consider many different possibilities. You don’t have to commit to anything on a permanent level right now. Everything is about exploration.

But, while you’re exploring, it’s a really good idea to get in touch with what makes you the happiest. Take a look at everything you really enjoy doing, and every future you sometimes like to think you’ll have. Try to envision yourself actually occupying those futures; ask yourself what would fulfill you about each one. Or what fulfills you the most, right now: which hobby or action or mode of operation gives you something that nothing else can.

It doesn’t have to be a big, grand, noble answer. I didn’t decide I wanted to be a writer, and to write about sexism, because I wanted to Change The World. I decided that I wanted to write about sexism because I was shy and weird and wanted to find a way to communicate with people—a way to show them how I saw the world. And one of the ways I felt most misunderstood was around being female—I didn’t line up easily with what people expected girls to do or be, so I figured unpacking the world’s expectations about being a girl might be a good place to start.

It was a good start, but it was also something that other people could use. And that’s the way it is for most people: if you examine your own needs, you’re going to find that somewhere, somehow, somebody else needs you to fulfill them. Do you personally need to help people who are hurting? Good—the world needs therapists, doctors, and human-rights advocates. Do you need to explore, to figure out something new about how the world works? Good—the world needs scientists and investigative journalists. We still don’t totally know what’s at the bottom of the ocean! You can find out what the Bloop was, and then I can sleep at night! (Unless it is actually a sea monster. Please, God, tell me it is not actually a sea monster.) Do you need attention? Yeah, well, so did I, and the world needs loudmouths in every single creative field. Do you need to prove yourself through competition? Good. Find a place where you can compete, and start winning. If I ever need a lawyer, I may end up calling you.

I recommend that you start here—with what you want—because the rest of it is pretty hard, and requires a lot of strategy. Once you’ve figured out what you want, you have to figure out what you need, and that can be a good deal more complicated. Fantasies are good, and so are goals, but to move forward, you’re going to actually need a plan.

The first step is actually not that hard. To realize a dream, you only have to break it down into its most basic components. To be a writer, you need (a) the ability to write, (b) somewhere to publish your writing, and (c) people to read it. Here you go; you’re a writer now. To become an activist, you need (a) a cause to rally your community around, (b) a community to rally with, and (c) a way to communicate your concerns to the public, and especially to people with the power to change whatever you’re concerned about. Start talking to people, find out what they think the problems are with your school or with the world, and start figuring out how you can ally with them to make an impact. Simple. Other ambitions are more complex, and harder to realize. To become a therapist, or a scientist, or a lawyer, you need many years of specialized training. To become an athlete, you need a lot of physical conditioning, and, often, a team to join. But still, in order to do any of those things, you need to break them down to basics. What are the core resources that you need to do this job? What can’t you ignore or skip, if you’re going to do this right? And where can you locate those resources? Answering those questions is your first step.

The second step is actually locating the resources. This is key. It doesn’t take much to be a published writer, but to be a good writer, you actually will need some training—people to give you feedback, and guidance. It’s pretty simple to be an activist, but to be a good one, you have to be able to educate yourself on the issues, and understand which tactics work, or don’t. But this is where the whole “girls are supposed to make people like them” thing actually comes in handy. The simplest and easiest way to locate resources, to be directed toward the sorts of education or training you need, or to learn about a field, is to ask people. Somewhere, someone is doing what you want to be doing. You need to talk to that person.

Obviously, in the age of internet, it’s pretty easy to find people with your dream job. But it’s usually better to start with the people in your own community. If you want to be a musician, for example, you don’t necessarily want to send a letter to every musician on your iPod. “Dear Kanye West, please teach me how to produce records??? Love, [YOUR NAME HERE].” Even if Kanye does write back, you’re going to get a pretty weird answer. And people who get a lot of attention are far less likely to respond personally—or at all—to attention from people they don’t know. It’s a volume thing; when you get five emails a day, you can respond to them all, but when you get 50, or 500, you might not even have time to read them. You’re better off looking for local musicians and producers whose work you admire: people who are nearby, and accessible, and far more likely to appreciate a girl who wants to listen to them talk about how they make their art, and how they learned to make it. (Oh, and by the way: try to actually admire their work. They can tell if you don’t, and it makes them a lot less friendly.)

Ideally, you will find someone who can really guide you through the field, and promote you within it—a good, close, one-on-one relationship. A mentor. This is the part that every “career guide” for girls stresses—find a mentor, love your mentor, learn from your mentor—but the fact is, if you don’t find one, it isn’t the end of the world. I, for example, never had one special mentor. I’ve had about 15 mentors. My friend who ran a feminist blog full-time taught me how to make a sustainable wage from blogging, and told me about the importance of reader donations, and where to find feminist-friendly ad support. My friend who has extensive experience in political reporting taught me how to report a story responsibly, and gave me reporting assignments when I’d had very few of them, so that I could learn under her guidance. Even now, when I have a tricky question about a piece, I go to her. My friend who writes a lot about how the internet works, and how it relates to the publishing industry, told me how to transition from blogging to writing for other people, and introduced me to other people who knew a lot about it. All of these people were mentors. And that’s why it’s important for you to have done the breakdown: there are about a thousand things you need to know, in order to really pursue your ambitions, and there are about a thousand people who can teach you. Your job is to keep your eyes open—to notice the gifts in the people around you, what they’re great at, and learn how they got to be so great.

Because here’s the thing: while you’re looking around for people who share your passions, and noticing what makes them great, you’re going to discover a few other things. You’re going to discover what you are great at—what makes you unique, what you can contribute that no one else can. And that’s how you find out who you are, and what gives you the basis to care about yourself and your ambitions. You also discover that pursuing your ambitions doesn’t have to be lonely. You don’t just find yourself, when you take yourself seriously. You find your community. And that can be the greatest feeling in the world.

Well. Second-greatest. Because here’s the other thing: Your personal Mr. Dusenburys? The people who told you that you couldn’t, you can’t, you won’t, you have to settle? If you really go for this—take yourself seriously enough to put your whole weight behind what you want—you are going to be able to prove them wrong. Not just say they’re wrong, not just think they’re wrong: get the proof, and know that they were wrong. It might take a while. But it can happen. And it probably will. And even 15 years later, that feels pretty awesome. ♦

* As you might imagine, when we fact-checked this article with Mr. Dusenbury, he disputed a lot of what I say in this article. But I stand by my memory.

111 Comments

  • karastarr32 March 21st, 2012 3:22 PM

    Love. Thank you so much for this awesome article, I’m bookmarking it. <3

  • Torrie March 21st, 2012 3:25 PM

    I cannot express how appropriate and timely this article is for where I am in life right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Also, I am so proud of you for proving that man wrong.

  • smilingrottenflesh March 21st, 2012 3:26 PM

    So much hand-waving, slow-clapping, and standing ovation/celebratory dancing going on over here.

    Just – great.

    Thank you.

  • moonchild March 21st, 2012 3:28 PM

    This is so good.

    Psht. Mr. Dusenbury… More like mr. D*%$#enbury! (haha get it? get it?)

    I really want to be a professional milliner for the stage. That means making hats for movies and shows.

    I love to sew, and I have so far read 12 books COVER TO COVER on millinery.

    I literally cried when watching a video of a person making a hat.

    No joke.

    The thing is, hat blocks are really expensive, so I can only make sewn hats, which I don’t really like… So I really want to get an internship or something.

    The hard thing is, I also have a lot of other dreams, like being a writer, a feminist speaker, an animal rights activist, and a psychologist. But I know I can’t be everything.

    Gwen
    http://under-a-bridge.blogspot.com/

    • moonchild March 21st, 2012 3:32 PM

      Oh, and also, the last post I did on my blog (at the time of writing this comment) was a feminism rant about One Direction’s song

      “What Makes You Beautiful”.

      urg. I guess that’s a start…

      • Libby March 21st, 2012 4:02 PM

        I love you.
        Personally I don’t *hate* 1d. They were only put together through XFactor, they aren’t trying to be the Beatles, and they’re not the worst music right now–I think that prize goes to the song I heard earlier, “Can’t Say No” by Conor Maynard because that’s just… ugh.
        Anyway, that song. ‘Hey, hate your body and have no confidence and Liam/Zayn/Niall/Harry/Louis will fall head-over-heels for you’ is possibly the biggest load of bullshit I’ve heard in.
        Yes it’s catchy. And yes they seem like nice people. But can they please use their powers for good?

      • MissKnowItAll March 21st, 2012 4:26 PM

        I love you and your blog but I have to disagree. That song wasn’t meant to say “If you have no self confidence then you’re beautiful”. Most of One Direction’s songs are about how that one special girl in your life can make all the difference. Yes, I’m all for girl power, but you can’t really blame this on a boy band that was put together purely through a t.v show. I do listen to their music and I actually like them.

      • moonchild March 21st, 2012 5:27 PM

        What do you think they *are* trying to say? I mean, I can’t think of any message besides confident, self-respecting women are b*itches.

      • MissKnowItAll March 21st, 2012 6:08 PM

        It’s awesome to be self confident and always feel beautiful but there are a lot of girls who are insecure and don’t know that they’re truly beautiful. I think One Direction tries to cater to that particular audience.

      • moonchild March 21st, 2012 6:57 PM

        I see what you mean, but I think they should change their message. Maybe instead of saying ” you don’t know your beautiful and that’s what makes you beautiful”, they could say “you don’t know you’re beautiful but you ARE beautiful” (In a catchier way…) it’s the fAct they’re saying that’s what MAKES you beautiful that gets to me.

      • MissKnowItAll March 21st, 2012 7:15 PM

        If only it could be changed…
        But they have other really great songs.
        Listen to “One Thing” and “I Want”.

      • moonchild March 21st, 2012 8:10 PM

        regardless, I want to say thank you for putting time and thought into what I have to say! And I totally respect your opinions and musical tastes :)

        Gwen

      • MissKnowItAll March 21st, 2012 8:20 PM

        Same to you :)

      • hillary March 22nd, 2012 2:16 AM

        I’m not really a 1D fan but I don’t think that song is saying you’re not beautiful if you’re confident…conversely, I think it’s aimed at insecure girls and is trying to get them to think that they’re beautiful.

        I mean, if in a song they went on about a girl who was smart and pretty and talented and confident etc, most girls would feel imperfect and not good enough, and we’re constantly told that ‘self confidence is the most beautiful thing a girl can have’ blah blah blah so girls who aren’t confident about themselves won’t think anyone will find them beautiful. But in the song they say that they are beautiful and that you can be beautiful and insecure at the same time, which is a good thing.

        I don’t think it’s really doing any harm though, because if an insecure girl hears the song she’ll hear it telling her she’s beautiful (unlike the trillions of other guys who say you have to be confident to be beautiful) and if a confident girl hears it it doesn’t matter because she’s already confident in herself, you know?

        It’s sort of a stupid song anyway, because if a girl doesn’t think she’s beautiful and you tell her she is because of that and then she thinks she’s beautiful, is she still beautiful? ~ total coherence you guys ~

        idk, it can be interpreted either way though.

      • illonablyton March 22nd, 2012 10:07 AM

        Maybe they’re also trying to say that if a girl doesn’t know she’s beautiful it also makes her a lot more attractive.

    • KinuKinu March 21st, 2012 3:42 PM

      That’s great and you taught me something new.Milliner….. fantastic.I think you can totally do whatever you want.You can be everything.Those are all great dreams,just work really hard to make them come true. :)

    • Cerise March 21st, 2012 7:50 PM

      That is awesome. I love hats, too!

      I know what it’s like to want to do lots of different things. I want to write, design clothing, garden, travel, act, promote literacy, etc. It’s frustrating, because I can’t pour all my time and energy into everything. There’s just so much out there in life!

      What’s nice, though, is that even if you can’t do everything, those other interests of yours will probably find a way in anyway, somehow or another. Even if you can’t be a feminist speaker, animal rights activist, etc. full-time, you can still be one to the people around you, and you can show your beliefs in how you handle the passion you decide to follow. If you decide to be a milliner, you can make a statement in what materials you choose to use, and how you treat the people you work with.

      And you never know what might happen. Someday, you might write a book about your experiences, or you might go back to school to study psychology, or someone might ask you to speak at an event for a cause you love. Crazy and wonderful things have happened before….

    • Miz Yvette March 22nd, 2012 3:21 AM

      Hi moonchild! I love this post!

      I took a millinery class in college, while I was studying theatre. For the blocked felt hat assignment, I wanted a crown shape that we didn’t have in the costume shop, so I had to find some wood scraps and make part of the block myself on the band saw in the scene shop. I think that experience actually helped me learn more about the complete process of hat making.

      Maybe you could use a wood shop at school or in a local community center? Ask a supervisor for help using the machines. Who knows, maybe you soon you’ll have custom-designed equipment for making your own unique hats. I mean, how else does one design for something like, say, the Hunger Games movies?

      Good luck pursuing your career interests! I’ve loved my career in theatre, which I’ve combined with education, writing, and community building.

      So much is possible now! Sady is right – working your butt off really is worth it, even if it just means a firmer butt and lots of cool experiences.

  • KinuKinu March 21st, 2012 3:38 PM

    this is great.I cannot even begin to express my love for this.I want to be a filmmaker/special effects artist .When I think about it,I only know of male special effects artists.I seriously cannot think a female special effects artist who got more successful than a sci-fi channel movie.I wanna be bigger than that.I wanna make the next HORROR CLASSICS.The girl Tom Sevigny.So,I can’t think of the women who didn’t make it….I have to think of how I AM going to do this.
    This was a great article☺
    ROOKIE RULEZ ♥♥

    • spatergator March 21st, 2012 5:43 PM

      Yeah!!

    • Yellie March 21st, 2012 10:36 PM

      you should watch “Pretty Bloody” it’s a documentary about women in horror films. It’s not the best but it puts forward a few names, and says a little about what it’s like as a girl in the industry!

      • KinuKinu March 21st, 2012 11:28 PM

        OMG!!!!! Thanks for this……I’m beyond excited♥♥♥Thanks so much :)

    • Caden March 23rd, 2012 9:43 PM

      Hi KinuKinu. I am a special effects makeup artist and horror movies are my passion too! It is difficult for women to get into it, yea, but not impossible. You need to really know your stuff. Not just the makeup techniques. My advice is to learn about the prominent special effects artists in horror today. For example, Tom ‘Savini’ certainly was the sultan of splatter in the 80s but not anymore. His techniques were the reason I fell in love with horror movies but they are very outdated now. For starters, check out Gregory Nicotero – he has done dozens and dozens of fantastic realistic horror. He’s the artist behind The Walking Dead. As for female special effects artists, Ve Neill (3 time oscar winner responsible for Sweeney Todd), Brigette A Myre (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Robin Myriah Hatcher (American Horror Story) and Lana Grossman (True Blood) are amongst the best. Best of luck :). X

      • KinuKinu March 27th, 2012 6:30 PM

        OMG. I spelled his name wrong. I feel stupid :} I knew something was wrong….yeah. ANYWAYS LET’S FORGET THAT AND MOVE ON :) Savini is my all time favorite…and yeah his techniques are outdated but I think I can still learn something from him and his techniques. NICOTERO. I LOVE HIM.He is pretty awesome. He did the Mist, too, I think. Oh yeah, and Grindhouse. I know about a lot prominent special FX artists today, I just really love Tom Savini. He was the guy who got me into horror in the first place, like you. I guess what I was trying to say was I want to be as good as him when he was still prominent in the 80s, splatter movie era. And thanks for your advice. I appreciate it so much. I’m going to spell Savini in my journal 500 times, so I never do that again :) :P

  • Abby March 21st, 2012 3:47 PM

    I want you to know that this article is THE BEST. It’s seriously sooo good. I want to be a child psychologist, and when I tell people that, they’re always like, “Oh…. you know you’re going to have to get a doctorate, right? And that’s really hard… And you’re probably never going to get a job in that field, because it’s really competitive, and (etc)”. It makes me so angry, because that’s what I really want to do. I want to help kids with problems, because I’m close to someone who was raped as a child, and now has a lot of problems.

    I guess I’m just going to have to prove them wrong. Just like you did! You’re awesome, by the way, for thee stuff you’ve accomplished. Thank you for being such an inspiration.

    • poppunkgurrrlx March 22nd, 2012 1:22 PM

      I completely agree with you in the fact that people always tell me the field I want to work in is flooded! I want to switch my major to Sociology but everyone tells me Sociology is for people that don’t know what they want to do, and that it’s just an easy way to get through college. It bothers me that people don’t take me seriously when I say that’s what I want to do.

      I hope you can prove them wrong some day! You seem like you have a lot of ambition :)

  • Cassanova March 21st, 2012 3:47 PM

    I legitimately took a moment in science class to applaud this article. This article has inspired me so much. Thank you.

  • whodatgal March 21st, 2012 3:52 PM

    Omigod I love this. THIS totally reflects me. Me and my 15 year old sister hate sexism. And some teachers are frikin’ unfair and annoying. Sady I love your articles. AND MOST OF ALL I <3 ROOKIE!

    http://www.opheliahorton.wordpress.com

  • mangachic March 21st, 2012 3:53 PM

    Faith in humanity restored…
    but if you have no idea what you want to do/lack motivation to not be lazy?

    • Stellalune March 21st, 2012 5:38 PM

      Well if you don’t know what to do- relax, most people don’t… I’ve spent the past year listening to friends describing their futures to me, career advice and rants from teachers/ honestly I still don’t know what I want to do later on… But I know what I’m good at and what drives me crazy, start with that :) everyone finds out eventually ;)
      About the lazy thing, maybe you just need something you’re really passionate about (could also help with that whole future problem) if you lack mOtivation to do stuff maybe it’s just because you haven’t done the right things? Maybe you just really need to go to cooking classes or a computer class?

  • MissKnowItAll March 21st, 2012 3:56 PM

    You have no idea how much this made my day. Like you, I had to deal with a psycho misogynistic, sexist teacher. I always loved to draw and I did it every single day. The margins (and the majority) of my notebooks were filled with doodles and logos and characters that I came up with. When ever I drew, I felt full of pride, like I could do something right. And then there was my psycho chem lab teacher who belittled me and every other girl in my class. When we couldn’t get something to burn properly he would start ranting about how only men could do thing properly. Whenever he saw my notebooks he would tell me not to waste my time on an impossible dream. But you know what? I proved him wrong. So here’s an open letter to my old teacher and everyone else who belittles others.
    Dear Mr.B
    First of all, I want to say that I hate you. Second of all, I want to tell you that you were wrong. I didn’t succumb to your idiocy and I hope no one ever does. I did end up making my dream come true. I worked my ass off and even had my own gallery showcase. I spent the rest of middle school doodling and drawing and I even got a graphic designing scholarship. I designed book covers for my friends and I found my passion. I hope you find yours and stop being such an asshole.
    Sincerely
    R

    • Pashupati March 21st, 2012 7:35 PM

      I’m all for people writing such letters because YAY WINNING so it’s kind of empowering, but yours makes me uncomfortable because people aren’t being actively sexist because they have mental disorders (“psycho”) or are intellectually deficient (“idiocy”)… they are because they cho(o)se not to question the culture they are surrounded with, despite probably being in a situation and society when they could find ressources about it, when it has already been thought for them so they can maybe feel more “allowed” to think about it. Then, there is that part where even if we question them we keep some beliefs because they have been so internalized and we still are presented with them as the default, but it’s mostly a question of choice and not of whether or not you’re a psycho. Associating that kind of values to being mentally sick and/or intellectually deficient is like associating $whatever to being (insert gender here), as it perpetuates stereotypes (here negative stereotypes but it could be positive, it would still be a problem because people “measure” themselves to stereotypes) and implies there is no choice and nothing to do about being sexist. Then I don’t know, I think struggling with that mental health thing made me more aware of sexism and more stressed/triggered when encountering or thinking about it and that people who are mentally sick and sexist would probably still be if they were “normal”? (don’t know how to phrase that.)
      (this being said, if “intellectual deficience” is insulting in english, I didn’t find another word. if it’s the case, one can tell me and sorry.)

      • MissKnowItAll March 21st, 2012 7:52 PM

        Sorry, I could’ve worded this better. What I meant was that he belittle his female students based on his own opinions. He was well-educated but he viewed us a nuisance. He was in perfect mental health and he wasn’t uneducated either. It was his sexism that put him at odds against us. Sorry, I’ll word what I say better next time. I guess that’s how I sound when I’m rant typing.

  • I.ila March 21st, 2012 3:57 PM

    That link was really clever. I was like “Why am I on my tumblr dashboard? And then I got it.
    If the school doesn’t make you a banner then I will!

  • decemberbaby March 21st, 2012 4:09 PM

    Sady, thank you so much. You are a hero.

    This article is the perfect example of why Rookie is not simply fun and interesting — it is NECESSARY.

    • KinuKinu March 21st, 2012 8:13 PM

      TRUE THAT :) Rookie certainly is necessary. I’ve only said it a million times but ROOKIE is the best.

  • drdischord March 21st, 2012 4:20 PM

    I’m at the point in school where we have to start making Big Decisions about our futures. It is quite terrifying, but your advice makes me feel better about it all.

    I really want to be a copy editor when I’m older. Apparently it’s difficult to get into at the moment, but I’m determined to get there one day.

    I’m so glad you didn’t listen to Mr Dusenbury or your principal. Congrats for proving him wrong, and thank you for such a brilliant article today.

  • Aislinn March 21st, 2012 4:28 PM

    LOVE this article!!
    I can’t believe his argument was “you can’t do a one-handed push up.” what a bunch of @%#&%^#*!!

  • darksideoftherainbow March 21st, 2012 4:33 PM

    GIRL, you WON. no doubt about it. you are what you said you’d be and you give great advice to boot! take that, mr. dusenbury!

  • Pashupati March 21st, 2012 4:42 PM

    I have/had so much Mr Dusenburys, not only amongst teachers and not only sexist ones. Some Mr Dusenburys are just nice people who think it’s easier to give up, but one you do that then it’s sure you’re not ever gonna win! The problem is: you say you want do something relating to fashion, you’re not gonna succeed, you think you want to workin computing, don’t even think about that, etc. They say that about everything, for sexist reasons or not, and propose the default way to go instead which is USUALLY sexist because society is, even if they don’t intend it to be.
    So, whatever you want to be, don’t listen to the Dusenburys, because if you try at least there is a chance to win!
    I didn’t the whole article, but just kudos on winning. I sometimes have thoughts about that, about proving them wrong, and it’s such a powerful article (from what I’ve read.)
    Now my problem is: some of them actually disgusted me from what I was interested in at the moment! Meh.
    (I actually laughed when reading about Mr Dusenbury, and was beaming at your victory. It’s actually fun to think you won, to imagine the result of him reading your letter, and YOU CAN’T DO ONE ARMED PUSH-UPS!)
    (Sorry, it probably wasn’t fun for you at the moment, but it’s just joyous to think about the fact you actually wrote that article, now. I wish I could laugh at my own Dusenburys like that and ONE DAY, I WILL.)

    • Pashupati March 21st, 2012 4:43 PM

      Oh, and another thing I’ve thought: even if you don’t finish where you wanted to be, maybe you’ll finish at an equally or more interesting place, having discovered interesting, fun, great things and persons.

  • suburban grrrl March 21st, 2012 4:54 PM

    I really needed this article! I want to be a filmmaker, but sometimes I feel so discouraged or like I’ll never be great or that I won’t even be able to do ANYTHING and end up working in a cubicle. BUT THAT’S NOT GONNA HAPPEN BECAUSE THIS ARTICLE IS GONNA WIN ME AN OSCAR

    http://sub-urbangrrrl.blogspot.com/

  • Natalie. March 21st, 2012 5:29 PM

    You folks at Rookie have done it again. I’m 25 now and so many of the articles you post are as awesome to my eyeballs now as they would have been ten years ago. (Though thankfully some things are now non issues for me; boys, body issues etc.) This post was particularly exciting, I’m in my fourth year of a Graphic Design (Hons) Degree and just revving to get into the industry. The more you delve into something you feel a little passionate about the more you feel passionate and excited about it. I also find that in learning about any particular topic, you learn about everything else. When I look into the history of Graphics it is all tangled up with the history of the world and when I speculate about the trends styles of graphic design now it leads me to think about the zeitgeist of our currant time. Everything is interconnected and to me that is fascinating.

    PS. You don’t happen to need someone to design you an Ipad App for Rookie mag do ya? :)

    http://ticklingaches.tumblr.com/

    • sovietkitsch March 21st, 2012 6:28 PM

      You are a graphic designer? That’s so cool!

      I’ve always been interested in it, and I’ve been thinking about getting a degree or something, but I really don’t know, I just want to create stuff.

      Also, what a beautiful article! I have a lot of feelings about it.

      • Natalie. March 21st, 2012 7:26 PM

        Yes, it’s really fun. Also really hard work but so are all the creative fields. Everyone’s journey to becoming a GD is different (don’t get me wrong, I certainly haven’t arrived yet) but I have some thoughts on good ways to approach doing a design degree:

        1. Don’t rush in. I didn’t go to university straight out of school, instead I traveled. I went to Melbourne and lived in a backpackers for 9 months, working in a cool cafe. I think this was kind of like my ‘first year party phase’. So when I did start university I was a couple of years older than most and more excited about learning than a new lifestyle. I was used to living on my own and being free to do whatever I wanted so that was no longer my focus and excitement ya know?

        2. Don’t rush to finish. I took a year out last year (between my third and fourth year), went to Canada and just worked as a server and lived. I always knew that I wanted to end my degree with momentum. I wanted to be excited to look for work RIGHT AFTER I graduated. Lots of the younger people in my course are so excited to travel as soon as they finish and I worry that this is the time when their portfolios are relevant and and fresh. In this industry gap years afterwards only date your work.

        These are just my UNPROVEN thoughts. But why not share them eh? Creating stuff is the way to feel content in life I think, sewing, drawing, designing, photography, writing. Do it all for FUN and then study when you really feel pulled into it, not JUST because everyone else is heading off to university straight after school.

        Best of luck!

    • MissKnowItAll March 21st, 2012 6:54 PM

      I’ve always wanted to be a Graphic Designer. I interned at the art institute for graphic design and I loved it

      • Natalie. March 21st, 2012 7:29 PM

        YES, it’s the best! I just wrote a really long winded comment ^above about becoming a graphic designer, you might find it interesting. All the best.

  • 3LL3NH March 21st, 2012 5:43 PM

    “Right now, you are in one of the world’s most enviable positions. You are a teenager.”

    Thank you. I needed that.

  • hiyalouise March 21st, 2012 5:43 PM

    I’M SO IN LOVE WITH THIS POST THAT I CAN’T EVEN COHERENTLY WRITE A COMMENT THAT TOTALLY EXPLAINS MY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ABOUT IT. EVERYTHING ABOVE, AND THEN SOME. GOD. I LOVE YOU.

    http://www.hiyalouise.blogspot.com

  • Ben March 21st, 2012 6:42 PM

    I want to be a fashion designer like Alexander McQueen. I’ve Emailed Kate And Laura Mullevey multiple times about working with them and stuff but I never got any responses. I should probably try contacting some other people. I just love Rodarte so much! I have a teacher at my school and we have very similar interests and he’s been very helpful with the puppet show i’m working on and my band!

  • Maria Ll. March 21st, 2012 6:54 PM

    I just hope this Mr Dusenbury’s not working in education any more. How sad to read that these things happen. I was lucky to have teachers who treated all the students equally and encouraged me in doing what I loved most. Now I’m still looking for those many “dreams to come true”, I have just finished my degree and it is quite difficult to find a good job; but the truth is that in doing what I love, I’m really enjoying the process; others say it has no future, but I want to prove them wrong. Thanks Rookie for another great article :)

  • caitlinisobel March 21st, 2012 6:55 PM

    I feel this article is exactly what I need right now, thank you!

  • mariaantoniavs March 21st, 2012 7:11 PM

    Best post ever. I just really needed this. I could relate to everything here. I have my own Mr Dusenbury… many of them… and I can’t wait to prove them wrong! I can’t wait to prove that little voice in my head that keeps saying I’m not good enough wrong! I dream about it everyday, and every time I work on it it makes me feel like I’m one step closer to making it happen.

  • juliette March 21st, 2012 7:16 PM

    this was great! thanks so much, sady

  • Melbaroast March 21st, 2012 7:18 PM

    This makes me want to slap myself for all the times I ever apologized for a personal accomplishment. Luckily, I’ve had some great mentors in my life who have shown me that ‘articulation’ in writing (and in life) is nothing to fear or apologize for. Giving up sucks, so why do us ladies do it so often? BOO. The Mr. Dusenbury’s of the world need to understand WHAT IS UP. Thank you for this article I loved it. I <3 ROOKIE! It's so good to know that you all are out there in internet land thinking the same things as meeeeeeee! <3 <3 <3

  • anne0817 March 21st, 2012 7:33 PM

    thanks for writing this article.
    it is just so wonderful for making this world better.

  • Kathryn March 21st, 2012 7:39 PM

    such a good article!! but
    I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY DREAM IS. :’(

    PS, I love the northern lights background today… soooo lovely.

  • happyjoy23 March 21st, 2012 7:47 PM

    Literally all the guys at my school say I can’t be a photographer. Even my friends scoff at me sometimes. But I know I can do it because people who know what they’re talking about like my stuff. Also I’ve even showed this one kid up by making him hold my report on photography. :)

  • Mollygeewhizz March 21st, 2012 7:54 PM

    This made me cry.

    I don’t know how to express my thanks.

    No one knows how to say this stuff; no one says it enough. I wish someone had said it to me earlier. I mean I suppose I still have plenty of time to figure out what I want and who I actually am. Sometimes it’s more subtle than your health teacher; it’s ubiquitous and sneaky and stifling. It assails us before we’re out of the womb. Sexism is so much more scary and crippling and widespread than anyone lets on or understands. It’s more than just “oh everyone is unsure of themselves right now, we’re teenagers”. It’s like the cherry on top of that, at least for me. Some girls burn through it and escape it as self assured women and others grow up to spend decades disillusioned and confused and feeling guilty for even thinking about trying to do something for themselves because it’s “selfish” or “unrealistic”. In a positive feedback loop of apathy and discontent and hollowness.

    Just. I have been having so much of a struggle lately and this came with perfect timing on the eve of my 19th birthday. I have spent all semester second guessing my major and trying to figure myself out sans the overbearing influence of my elders and conservative hometown. Trying to figure out what’s me and what is just ingrained response after years of being conditioned to respond a certain way because I’m a “smart girl” and am supposed to behave a certain way and feel certain things and not others.

    asdfghjkl;dfghj anyway thank you thank you thank you a million times thank you.
    <3

  • purplebabaushka March 21st, 2012 8:01 PM

    This is so perfect for me right now. I’m dealing with a few teachers right now who have offended me in numerous ways, attempted to impose their conservative views in respect to abortion and politics upon me, and in general been horribly condescending. Thank you for writing this!! <3

  • Mariana March 21st, 2012 8:24 PM

    god, rookie understands the teenage girl so much. i don’t think i can express to you the utter relevance this article has to my life right now (literally. like, i was having dunesbury-esque thoughts as i typed rookiemag.com.) excellent awesome article

  • J March 21st, 2012 8:41 PM

    This might not be completely related, but it is somewhat:

    http://www.nerdgirls.com/blog/read/learning-from-our-hobbies/

    Sometimes people think that you can’t be a scientist and an artist, or a mathematician and a writer, or ever be part of more than one world, which is obviously not true. We seem to sort of be the multi-disciplinary generation, though, because things are changing, which is great. It’s just another example of people being discouraged from taking themselves seriously.

  • folklaura March 21st, 2012 11:09 PM

    What if you are horrible at networking? I know you can’t do it alone, but I don’t have the proper contacts and even if I did I have no idea how to ask people for favors. Plus I’m at a point where, well I wanna write too, but whenever I submit it n my photography only my photography gets published n that’s not even that common so i’m just worried i’m on a dead end road… And with run ons like that is it any wonder :/

  • Megretson March 21st, 2012 11:19 PM

    My ambition is to settle on one ambition.

    My health teacher is named Mr. G., and he also does P.E, he is obese and he spends almost all of class in a rolling chair. (I don’t care about his weight, but when he wants to tell me to do a push-up, all I want to say is, “Well why don’t you demonstrate for us?”) He rarely enters grades and he blatantly denies this, saying he just hasn’t gotten around to it.

    In health class I sit through lesson after lesson listening to this sexist pig. He says girls often, to quote, “don’t come to school during their periods because they don’t want to.” Really, Mr. G., and when was the last time you had a period? When I got truly pissed and insinuated that I didn’t need him because I was going to go to this particular math and science high school, because I am a semifinalist and blah blah blah, he said, “Oh really? Studies have shown girls are not as good at math as boys are, you aren’t getting in.” and told me to sit down.

    I sit next to a special needs girl who is deathly afraid of him, and she opted out of sex ed, but she was to afraid to remind him. Because of this, I reminded him, and he realized he has messed up, so he proceeded to through the adult version of a temper tantrum.

    Sorry for the long comment, it’s just really nice to know I’m not alone in the realm of horrible awful no good very bad gym teachers, and adults in authority in general who treat their students with pre-conceived notions, and lack of respect.

  • SweetThangVintage March 21st, 2012 11:33 PM

    I want to be a world speed skater, and help make inline speed skating an Olympic sport. And have my own barbie for doing that. Yes. Sounds like a plan.

  • kendallkh March 21st, 2012 11:37 PM

    This is such a wonderful article and just a great message. It’s sad that we still even have to defend ourselves against misogynists and people constantly trying to put us down, but this article is so lovely and encouraging. Also:

    “I told him that maybe he should have spent some time learning to teach instead of perfecting his one-armed push-up skills”

    A hearty round of applause for that one.

  • erin March 22nd, 2012 12:28 AM

    geez, you had some horrible teachers! It’s so weird to me that there are still stone-age people like that today who act like girls can’t do anything, but I know it’s there.
    And this article got me thinking about my own future profession (well, thinking some more about it, because it’s a constant thing) and I think I’m going to have a specific bit of advice! Because I’m absolutely torn in half!

  • LittleMoon March 22nd, 2012 12:32 AM

    ooooh, thank you Sady! This is perfect for where I am right now.

  • SWIZZLEFAIRY22 March 22nd, 2012 1:42 AM

    This is great, but I always think about not disappointing my parents, since the career I want to have is hard to do. I want to make them proud and be happy too.

  • MaggietheCat March 22nd, 2012 2:45 AM

    Such a timely article! It’s like you guys are reading my mind.

  • allyishere March 22nd, 2012 3:36 AM

    that was really a beautiful article

    “Right now, you are in one of the world’s most enviable positions. You are a teenager”

    writing that line down for future reference.

  • whisperedglasswords March 22nd, 2012 3:52 AM

    This article is amazing! I myself haven’t experienced any sexism from anyone I’ve had the pleasure to be accquainted with (thank god!), but it angers me to know that so many girls and women do experience shit like that from so many people. It’s like sexists are basically saying “You are worth nothing. You are a thing, an object, something that I can control and destroy as I wish.” And they get so mad if anyone ever stands up to them! Honestly, I think all those sexists are just insecure, unmotivated bastards who get scared by the passion, drive, and intellect that women hold…… Anyways, thank you Sady for posting this article. It comes at a perfectly executed time.

    On a lighter note, yay for traveling and figuring out what to do with your life! I myself have always hard a hard time with choosing from my many passions to decide on a career….I honestly don’t have any sure ideas on where my life will lead except for finishing highschool and traveling the world. Which doesn’t really bother me.i figure I shouldn’t get stressed over something that’s supposed to be a fun, personal adventure of finding your true passion(s). Especially since we never know what the future will hold.

  • artobsessed March 22nd, 2012 8:20 AM

    this story had personified me by the time the scroll bar was 1/7th down the page. woo on for more reading!

  • KimKat March 22nd, 2012 10:01 AM

    It’s like…this is all I needed to hear and I didn’t even know it until after I finished reading. I have a hard time openly stating my goals to the point where I’ve NEVER told anyone out of fear they’d laugh in my face. (read: fashion design student at highly renowned NY school wanting to integrate original music compositions with each runway collection…yeah, right.) And come to think of it, a few asshole teachers from the past may very well be contributing factors to this inherent disbelief in myself. I have lifelong experience in music as well as a pretty solid background in fashion for being a sophomore student, so personally I don’t think this ambition is too far-fetched, and in my mind it’s all I can imagine for myself. But actually doing something that’s never really been done before? Makes it easy for me to think my goal isn’t feasible. You helped me realize that I probably need to take myself seriously before anyone else can. Thank you, Sady!

    • whisperedglasswords March 23rd, 2012 3:21 AM

      Your goal sounds so awesome and fun! And, actually, because it hasn’t really been done before, you’ll probably end up being super successful and well known. Everyone is always hungering for new and innovative ideas. :) Good luck!

      • KimKat March 23rd, 2012 7:17 AM

        Oh wow, thank you for saying so! It’s nice to know that the concept doesn’t sound completely pointless to someone else once it leaves the comfort of my head. :)

  • Saraleebread March 22nd, 2012 10:26 AM

    Thank you for writing this! It was inspiring, and I needed to hear this right now.

  • Tasya March 22nd, 2012 11:26 AM

    thank you for writing this article!!!!! it’s so, so helpful

  • Kaleidoscopeeyes March 22nd, 2012 1:07 PM

    I love this! At my school, such wonderful phrases as, “Girls are less coordinated than boys,” “Girls are physically weaker than boys,” “Girls are more into knitting and that type of thing and boys are more into sports,” and, “Girls are weaker emotionally because we’re nutrurers,” have been uttered from the lips of well-respected veteran teachers. I was most disheartened when I heard my favorite teacher say that last one. I have this letter composed in my head that says:
    Dear Society,
    We’re stupid because you’ve taught us not to be threatening. We’re shallow because you’ve taught that all of our value lies in our looks. You broke us, you buy us.
    Sincerely,
    Girls
    Sandy, will you please be this writer-in-training’s mentor?

    • Kaleidoscopeeyes March 22nd, 2012 1:08 PM

      Which is not to say that girls are shallow or stupid. Just that that is how society is trying to make us.

  • putonstars March 22nd, 2012 3:07 PM

    YES. JUST ABSOLUTELY YES.

  • Melanie March 22nd, 2012 4:13 PM

    Wow, this is amazing. And it just came in time! I really needed this kick-ass like article to realize that my passion is equally to think about as what my family thinks is good for me for going to university. Thank you! This is, both in english and german, one of the best articles I read lastly.

  • lxa March 22nd, 2012 8:23 PM

    This is just amazing. Thank you.

    http://itslxa.blogspot.com/

  • eeEmilyee March 22nd, 2012 10:17 PM

    I’ve wanted to be so many things (a fashion designer, a geologist, a marine biologist) at many different times. I kind of didn’t realize that I liked the idea of me being these people more than I actually liked the material and effort that came with these jobs. This year I actually found that I really want to work as an elementary school teacher and that I’m actually really excited for a prospective job (in the very far future). I feel like people don’t take me seriously when I tell them and pass it off as just another one of my passing phases but I really truly do love working with kids.
    Thank you so much for reminding me to, pretty much, fuck the people that push you down. I love this article and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without this site. You guys are the bomb.com.

  • superblue March 22nd, 2012 11:30 PM

    sady doyle for president of the world.

    also, this reminds me of this (snort) sociology teacher i had in high school.

    when we discussed human rights and he asked the class who thought women didn’t have equal rights, i was the only woman in the class with my hand raised. he tried humiliating me in front of the class by arguing that the school principal made more $ than he did, therefore we had equal rights.

    i calmly, coolly informed him that not only was she in a higher position than him, but that she also had an advanced degree. he sputtered hilariously while everyone near me scooted away as though they didn’t want to catch the feminist virus. o memories.

    keep on rocking it out sady.

  • Sea goddess March 23rd, 2012 12:06 AM

    This is just SO GREAT thank you very much<3
    it is just so accurate, specially at this time in my life

  • dianeisnotmyname March 23rd, 2012 10:09 AM

    I’ve flip flopped back and forth between what I want to do with my life, but I think I want to be a writer, just like you. I love expressing my opinion about pretty much everything, but I also like writing more personal essays as well. I bookmarked this article because it is awesome. Thank you so much!

    And about the misogyny, I go to an all girls school that is a “sister” school to a very preppy boys school. I have friends there, so I am not saying that everyone there is sexist, but the overwhelming attitude there is “We are smarter than you, and we are more destined to success.”

    These young misogynists scare me more than older teachers (though they have been taught by these old men like Mr. Dusenbury) because our generation is “The Future”.

  • limegreensunset March 23rd, 2012 1:56 PM

    this is brilliant, and so relevant when my teachers are all “YOU MUST GET PERFECT GRADES OR YOU WILL NEVER GET WHERE YOU WANT TO BE IN LIFE ETC ETC”.

  • Runaway March 23rd, 2012 2:13 PM

    I’m 25 and how I wish I’d read this article ten years before now! The truth is that, as some people have already said, sometimes those who love you the most are the ones trying to discourage you, just because they think your goal is unrealistic. I loved music (still do), but ended up going to uni to do English Studies.

  • theaterbex March 23rd, 2012 5:05 PM

    I’m a recent HS graduate currently on a gap year. During my senior year, I took Political Thought, a class taught by the notorious Mr. Enright, a man infamous for swearing and telling inappropriate jokes to his students.

    Mr. Enright lived up to his reputation. His teaching style was also incredibly overbearing. Instead of fostering real debate in class, he spouted his opinions as if they were truth and dared us to challenge them. In fact, I agreed with a lot of what he had to say about the subjects we discussed. But I felt like I had to nitpick what he said and try to start a conversation. When I did, though, he repeatedly told me to sit down and shut up. In his words, “Girls don’t have a say in this world, so you’d better get used to it.” I found his attitude completely infuriating, and I kept pushing back.

    What really angered me, though, was when he sexualized the girls in my class. One girl came in with a lollipop, and he told her she couldn’t eat in his class. She replied, “Well, I’m not really EATING…” And he shot back, “No, you’re practicing.” After this instance and a couple others, I spoke to my guidance counselor. Due to the kind of naivete that should disqualify people from being guidance counselors, she missed the innuendo. I couldn’t bring myself to explain it.

    But I won, at least temporarily. I started reading “Still Failing At Fairness” in class. When Enright asked me what it was about, I replied, “Gender disparity and sexism in schools.” That shut him up. I like to think I scared him.

  • cleobea March 23rd, 2012 8:56 PM

    BEST! Thank you so much. Lovely. I needed it. I need to get out my stationary and send those letters

  • cleobea March 23rd, 2012 9:26 PM

    Check this out. Look how far we’ve come since then.
    http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2012/03/vintage-ad-sexism.html

  • Emmi March 24th, 2012 12:27 AM

    This is a really amazing article. Ugh, I always hate those people, who preach about how someone is lesser because of their race/sex/age/heritage/insert here, though I’ve never come into contact with one personally. It’s nice to know that you’re teacher, (who I am really impressed you stood up to, even when you were only fourteen) has been shown up, and hopefully…is kicking himself for being such a sexiest pig :D I really inspiring piece, I hope that I’ll be as good a writer as you. <3

  • Dagmara March 24th, 2012 12:17 PM

    Um, so I literally started tearing reading this because it is so inspiring and touching. Good thing I read that crying article before this cause I definitely did not expect to cry, haha. This article is so great, I can’t even. Congratulations, seriously. You are an inspiration to all young teenage women like myself who are trying to make something of themselves.

  • Flower March 26th, 2012 2:19 PM

    there are no words for how much this has inspired me.

  • Tiffany March 26th, 2012 6:02 PM

    probably one of the best and most inspirational articles i’ve read on rookie!!! sady is like, the heroine of the story :)

  • chelsear March 27th, 2012 9:08 PM

    What an inspiring article! Good for you for standing up for yourself. I can only imagine how awesome it must feel to prove that awful teacher and principle wrong. Right on!

    xo
    http://couturecultureblog.blogspot.com

  • lavenderkisses March 29th, 2012 11:39 AM

    This is awesome!!! You GO, girl!

  • Hedwig March 29th, 2012 2:33 PM

    Hells yeah!

  • caro nation April 3rd, 2012 11:14 PM

    Let me just point something out here. Tavi Gevinso, Hazel Cills, Spencer Tweedy, etc all have an extremely bountiful fig tree of opportunities lying in very close proximity to them, while the majority of 13-19 year olds who read this sight will never, ever have even a seed to grow such a tree. How am I to take myself seriously, to persist and continuously tell myself “I’ll devote my life to writing and film,” while my life passes through my fingers and I lose control of that artistic dream and that college scholarship goes to some other artsy, literary teenager, and I settle for a hellish job while the younger authors of this sight thrive on perpetual praise and creative freedom? The point is, reading Rookie, I see that I’m not unique, that so many girls want the exact same thing as me, but because no one reads our blogs, no one invites us to fashion week or gives us record deals, we’ll stay here in the corner forever.

    • Anaheed April 4th, 2012 12:02 AM

      Actually, I think Tavi is the perfect example of someone who made her own opportunities. Nothing was handed to her. She did it all by herself, as an 11/12-year-old and beyond. I think that helps our readers see that they can do it, too. The “seed to grow such a tree” comes from within, corny as that may sound.

      • caro nation April 4th, 2012 11:30 AM

        But look at all these girls with blogs, trying to make their own opportunities. I guess it just scares me that they all share similar traits, they all strive for these artistic careers, but because they don’t have a popular blog, and don’t get interviewed, silly as it may sound, they do seriously undervalue themselves. I admire Tavi and thes rest of the staff because I KNOW they work so hard, but these legions of other girls blog and post and try to make themselves known, but there are so many and honestly, most of them don’t stand out (or rather, try ALL stand out). So many teens are articulate, talented, and precocious, but they’ll never have the same opportunities Tavi will have, ever. Life isn’t fair, but it certainly is depressing, and the prospect of trying and trying for the rest of my life but never making it does induce some despondency. It seems like there is so much competition and such a tall
        pile of odds stacked against me, so why even bother?

        • Anaheed April 4th, 2012 1:32 PM

          No one read Tavi’s blog when she started it either, though. I’m not sure what luck has to do with that!

  • folklaura April 13th, 2012 5:33 PM

    Anaheed I feel like you’re dismissing caro! I know exactly what she means… There’s an intangible factor! Nobody is second guessing tavi’s right to be here, she earned it… Maybe an article about how she went from pre-teen blogger to teen tycoon would be useful and inspiring?

    • Anaheed April 13th, 2012 6:16 PM

      Fair enough! In Tavi’s case though it really was a matter of her doing something so well that people started paying attention w/o her asking them to. There was a factor of luck in her timing — it’s a lot harder now to get noticed as a preteen blogger, and that is partly Tavi’s fault — but it was mostly just “work hard and be really good at what you do, and maybe someone will notice,” which isn’t the most useful lesson, right?

      I also think that feeling like the odds are already stacked against you so “why bother” is basically a guarantee that you will never be happy!

  • trickerie April 13th, 2012 8:01 PM

    This is so inspiring, wow. I want to become a filmmaker/director/cinematographer etc. (or anything else to do with the film industry) but I know that they’re hard occupations to get into considering that the occupations, notably directors, are more of a “man’s” job? But I have my sights set on working around my greatest love, film, and nothing can really change that.

  • Devan April 21st, 2012 4:48 PM

    Thanks. That may be the best advice I’ve ever been given.

  • jmochi47 May 2nd, 2012 10:52 AM

    THANK YOU SO FUCKING MUCH FOR THIS ARTICLE.

  • jmochi47 May 2nd, 2012 11:01 AM

    Alternatively (if you delete my first comment for the expletive), Thank You for this. It needs to be heard, and I intend to spread this around like… I guess good news? Which is what it is? I’m not a writer, but thank you.