You Asked It

Just Wondering

Second opinions on your LIFE.

I’ve always done really well at school, and so people always tell me I’ll do great things. Now, this is great, but I have a lot of doubts with regard to…what to do with my life, basically. I’m passionate about SO MANY things (mostly anything related to science and research) that I just can’t seem to choose that one thing that would make me the best “me” I can be. I am currently in dental school, and even though I enjoy it and my classes are fun so far (a lot of basic sciences, which I enjoy), I’m constantly worrying about not having made the right choice, and I can’t but wonder: what if there’s something else I should be doing, that will make me live up to my full potential, something so hard and unusual that it would make people raise their eyebrows? What if I don’t find my niche? What if I end up settling for something less than amazing? Am I selling myself short? Etc. etc. etc. How do I stop worrying so much? How am I supposed to know if I’ve made the right choice? Am I asking for the impossible here? -Marina, Argentina

First of all: hi, Marina! Second of all: PLEASE STOP WORRYING SO MUCH, Marina! A lot of what you are thinking about right now has to do with age, and with having the time in which to explore and choose your options. I don’t know how old you are, but let’s assume that since you are writing in to this website, you are not actually 87 years old. Which means one thing: you have time.

Choosing a career is never easy. The world is full of amazing things to do. Everybody’s life has a few roads not taken. But you, lucky person that you are, are young enough to take ALL THE ROADS. Or at least step onto them, and see how they work out. I admit: going to dental school does seem to me like a safe bet, for a lady who’s into science and research. Which is good! Security is not a bad thing. And it wouldn’t be bad to be a dentist, either, IF you genuinely knew that it was what you wanted to do in life. But right now, you don’t know that, and I think that’s what’s bothering you. More than anything else, I hear you saying that you feel trapped. Not because you hate dentistry, but because you want to know what else is possible.

So, here’s the thing: You can keep going to dental school. But in order to be fair to yourself, you have to spend the rest of your time exploring. Take all the science classes. Look into everything that excites you. No matter how ridiculous! Or risky! Or unimpressive to others! (Honestly, who wants to spend the rest of her life thinking about whether she’s impressive to other people? Not anyone with more-meaningful things to do, I am pretty sure.) Spend a whole semester studying 19th century French poetry, if that is something that you are curious about. When you find something that genuinely makes you feel alive— astronomy, medical research, horse whispering, ANYTHING—you will know. And you’ll know because it will keep you up at night, and you’ll spend your time thinking about it while you’re supposed to be learning about teeth. Or maybe find yourself in the middle of those new classes, missing your classes on dentistry. What you are doing now COULD be what you are meant to do. But you can’t know that unless you have some basis for comparison.

I’m of the opinion that everyone has a calling, and that many people feel aimless or depressed just because they haven’t taken the time to find theirs. Some people are called to dentistry; if you’re one of them, you’ll find out. But open yourself up to every possibility for a while; when one of them starts asking for you by name, you will know. And at that point, it won’t even be about CHOOSING what you want to do; it will be about knowing that you couldn’t do anything else. —Sady

I know high school years are supposed to be hell, but is it ~normal~ to feel unable to connect with anyone, and utterly lonely? —Anonymous

Honestly? No. I don’t think it’s normal. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, or the people around you, if just means that you are in the middle of many incompatible circumstances. Knowing this can be a burden, because the truth can hurt, ’cause who wants to admit that they’re lonely? But it’s really a blessing, because it means you can give yourself the power to fix it, which would never happen if you didn’t know or acknowledge that there was something to fix. You can try to take advantage of this terrible feeling.

One good thing about loneliness is that it helps you access the emotions you need to fully experience some of the world’s greatest art, movies, writing, music, and such. That great, awful feeling where you feel so in love with a song at the same time that your chest physically hurts from how much things seem to suck. Such feelings broaden our life experience and make the happy, un-lonely feelings stronger. “BUT I DON’T WANT LIFE EXPERIENCE! LIFE SUCKS!” —you, maybe, or at least me a lot of the time. Unfortunately, life is all we have, so DEAL WITH IT, or at least TRY to make the suckiness of it less sucky. For these times, I recommend “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian, No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July, Ghost World, and lots of Woody Allen (just try to avoid learning about his personal life for a while). And, after you’ve developed these obsessions, you might want to create some of your own art, too, and let me just say that it is extremely satisfying to be able to make some kind of sense out of shitty feelings, be it through drawing, collaging, photography, writing, etc.

The problem with this specific brand of sadness—loneliness—is that it’s so dependent on the people around you, and you can’t change them, and you can’t change yourself to relate to them when it doesn’t feel right. So, now that you’ve gotten to know yourself more by exploring your obsessions (TWO ROOKIE THEMES IN ONE SENTENCE, GO ME), and you’ve developed your taste, you can use all that to relate to others. Keep an eye out for events that pertain to your interests: authors speaking at local bookstores, concerts, sports events. Do you live by a city? Does it have a record store of any kind? A ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW SHADOW SHOW? Other people will be doing the same thing you are, looking for people to enjoy the author/concert/festival/game with, and so you are bound to find someone else who will understand your reasons for being there.

Now, maybe you’re lonely not because you don’t have friends but because you actually have quite a few friends but don’t relate to any of them. It is a terrible feeling to spend all night with a group of people and go home and realize that you kind of hated yourself and everyone around you for the past three hours. If you feel this way, they probably feel it too, and so no one will think you freaky for kind of fading away from the group. You might deal with the paranoid suspicion that people are judging you because lately you’ve been spending more time at home making things than hanging out, but you don’t really want anything from them anyway, and you’re not hurting them, so it’s not worth your or their caring about. (Also, don’t feel discouraged if you don’t make things that you like right away. Nobody does. And even just watching movies and developing your tastes and figuring out what you like is an effective use of time, in my opinion.)

Or, maybe you feel lonely because you don’t have a romantic partner, and you’re sick of the optimism it takes to be like, “Hey, I can relate to Janis Ian! Take THAT, people who are happier than me and make out with each other!” I am honestly lost on this one, but I do think this is the most NORMAL kind of loneliness here, so at least it’s not like everyone is having some giant orgy and you’re not invited. Just please promise me that you will remember that YOU are not the problem. It’s just that people are complicated, and it is rare for two of them to find each other and say and do all the right things that make it work out. But there’s nothing wrong with you that is keeping you from getting a lover of some kind, even though it’s easy to think, like, if ONLY I could be more X, less Y, just the right kind of Z. It is also easy to feel this way if you have the notion that your loneliness might have nothing to do with the people around you, and is just something you feel all the time, regardless of your circumstances.

When you are met with the burden of understanding things and why they make you sad, to a point where it’s hard to relate to others and you eventually become lonely, you may hate yourself a little bit, and want to make yourself more boring, pretty, passive, submissive, easier to get along with, uncontroversial in any way. But by that point, you know too much about the world and what you do and don’t like about it, you know that you feel rather attached to your opinions, your tastes, your ideas, the things that might make you un-boring or un-pretty, and you don’t want to compromise them, because they make up who you are, after all. The comfort in knowing that you are being your full self, or, if you don’t know who that is, just doing what feels right in the moment, will triumph over the comfort of knowing that some hypothetical other person is into a boring, pretty, one-dimensional version of you that doesn’t exist. Or at least the discomfort of smiling and nodding when you have so much you’d rather say will be so awful that you’ll prefer the discomfort of confusing people. It does not feel this way in the moment, but I believe it is incredibly important in the long run, in the health of YOU, and that’s who you gotta take care of.

NOW. What happens when you don’t want to take care of yourself, when you’re so MAD at yourself for being LONELY, when the person you feel alienated from is you? When everything you love has turned against you, your favorite song just reminds you of YOU, and you feel like that person is someone who just sucks?

First of all, know that you don’t suck as much as you think you do, ever, especially if you are a teenager, especially if you are a female teenager. Because we are SCIENTIFICALLY PROGRAMMED to hate ourselves more than we should right now. Because puberty sucks. (It will be over soon, or at least relatively soon, considering how long life typically is.) (Also, therapy. It’s a good idea to investigate therapy if your feelings of loneliness and disconnectedness persist no matter what else you’ve tried. Here’s some really good advice about finding a therapist.)

It’s all about striking a balance between being Liz Lemon and being Stevie Nicks. You are not perfect, because you are a human being, and in moments where you dwell on this and start to hate yourself, you need to keep a Liz-like sense of humor about your flaws. But you also need to give yourself some credit, know that you are awesome and sometimes other people just don’t get it. Know that your flaws are interesting, your loneliness is interesting, that you, you are a force of NATURE, a BEAUTIFUL, COMPLICATED human. And you think about these flaws and you feel these feelings because your world has color and depth to it, which can make the things that hurt, hurt more, but can also make the things that feel good, feel more good.

And so few people understand, because loneliness, as we have established, is not normal, but your bonds with the other few people will be the most special of all, once you find them, which you will. You and your wild heart, you’re like Stevie Nicks. Stevie Nicks wants the sadness and the emotion, she wants to scare people by saying so and presenting them with the part of themselves they’re afraid of. You’re not afraid—you’re aware. And if you’re tackling your loneliness with the right combination of acceptance and optimism, you’re DOING something about it. You’re trying to make something BEAUTIFUL out of it. You are Stevie fucking Nicks.

“I think if you are really into words and poetry and situations of life, there is always a little kiss of sadness on everything you do… It’s just the kind of person who I am. I always look carefully beneath the outward appearance of things. I want to know what’s really going on in somebody’s heart.”

A-fucking-men, Stevie fucking Nicks. Now, listen to “Rhiannon,” watch some 30 Rock, and take a nap.

Love, Tavi

Recently, my best friend started dating this guy she has liked for ages. She’s really happy, and I’m really happy for her. But the thing is, she spends all her time with him. She’s been bailing on plans with me a lot, and it kind of makes me feel like shit. I don’t know how to tell her how I feel without sounding/feeling selfish. Any advice? —Taylor

I have a rule that is totally arbitrary and yet totally works in real life. When someone’s in a new relationship, I give them THREE MONTHS to be an awful friend. Because when you’re newly in love your brain does not work in a normal way and you neglect everything (and everyone) else in your life for a while—school, hobbies, friends, family—because all you can think of is this new person and all you want to do is be around them and touch their hair and argue sickeningly over who loves whom more, to the not-delight of everyone around you. That’s how it’s supposed to go. It is a crazy, fun, giddy time, and you don’t want to take that away from your friend. However. On the first day of the fourth month of this relationship, you get to say, “OK, enough is enough, you have to start being a good friend again,” and there isn’t anything selfish about that. A good friend calls you out when you’re being a jerk. —Anaheed

No matter what I do, I can’t ever seem to catch up to my best friend. She gets better grades than me, she’s taller than me, and people like her more in general. Including my own family! How do I deal with these feelings of not being as good as her? —Libby Lee

Oh Libby, it hurts my heart so much to hear that you have been comparing yourself to your best friend in this way. It really, really sucks to feel like you can’t measure up to someone else, especially if that someone else is your best friend, because the crappy feelings of inadequacy and envy (emotions that we direct inward and that have the capacity to harm us and make us feel bad about ourselves) have a way of overpowering and scaring away the good feelings of love and affection (emotions that we direct outward and that have a beautiful way of radiating goodness unto everyone around us). Here’s the thing, though—and this is an easy thing to SAY but difficult to actually DO—we have to stop comparing the insides of our lives to the outsides of other people’s lives.

I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I’ve wasted looking at someone else’s Facebook photos and thinking, Well FUCK, this person has it all, doesn’t she? She’s beautiful and adored and photogenic and happy in every photo and I guess her life is perfect and mine is a pile of worthless rat turds. Or how many times I’ve looked at someone else and thought: What is wrong with my face that I don’t look like that? Why is my torso so long and hers so perfectly in proportion? Why am I dressed like a hideous sack of shit and this person before me is wearing the most impossibly cute and effortless outfit? How is it that my voice is so shrill and whiny and stupid-sounding and hers is so delicate and intriguing? How come I always have to try so hard and this person doesn’t seem to have do anything at all and good things just gravitate to her like she’s some kind of magnet? We’ve all been there—that place wherein we decide on our inferiority while imagining another person’s superiority.

There was one summer in high school when I was going through a particularly low period of my life: I had broken up with my boyfriend and he started dating my best friend a few months later; I was skipping school because I couldn’t stand it anymore; I felt like my parents didn’t believe in my dreams at all; and on top of it, I was achingly, painfully lonely. There was a day that summer when I went on an afternoon picnic with my friend L. and her mom. I was sulky and quiet the whole day, and at some point, out of nowhere, L.’s mom started just tearing into her. She told L. that she was overweight and needed to do something about her acne. She said that I was pretty and took care of my skin and that was probably why boys liked me and didn’t like L. She told L. that she wasn’t as smart as me and that she definitely wasn’t as pretty as me, and that instead of being so complacent and lazy, she should probably take better care of her skin and try harder at school.

A few years later, L. and I ended up going to the same college. One afternoon, out of the blue, L. came by my dorm room and confessed to me that she had always looked up to me and thought that I was incredibly fortunate and loved and smart in all the ways that she wasn’t and that she always wished she could have my life. This stuck with me, because I didn’t feel like my life was all that great. I felt like my writing sucked and was going mostly unnoticed by my professor. I was heartsick and devastated over a recent breakup with a boy whom I had thought I would someday marry. I had social anxiety and worried all the time about not being invited to parties or included in social events. I had gained weight, and my clothes weren’t fitting me anymore, and I didn’t have the money or the desire to buy new ones. And yet, one of my oldest friends was standing in my doorway telling me that I had the best life imaginable. “But you don’t really know what I’ve been through these past few months…” I started to say, but L. didn’t let me finish, because she started crying. And anyway, she didn’t know. She was only imagining what my life was like. And just like her, I’ve imagined what other people’s lives must be like, but I also didn’t know. No one us knows what anyone else’s lives are like. We only know our own, and because we are the only ones who have to live with ourselves and our imperfect lives, of course we become acutely aware of every flaw, of every single thing that we are lacking, and on the flipside, we know almost nothing about the flaws and the things that are lacking in other people’s lives.

I’m not saying that your best friend envies you the same way you envy her, and I’m not saying that your feelings about your best friend are not totally and completely legitimate and normal and real, but I am saying there will always be that someone who seems to have everything handed to them, and that you need to know that your best friend, who you might feel like is better than you in so many ways, has felt exactly the way you are feeling, maybe about you or maybe about someone else, and that we are all a part of this vicious and endless cycle that tricks us into thinking that there is value in comparing one human being to another, when in fact there isn’t. You don’t need to catch up to your best friend because you are not competing in the same race. No one is, because there is not a single race that we are all running in.

I want to believe in a world where there is no one beauty standard that we all have to live up to, and if that is true, then it doesn’t matter if she’s taller than you or thinner or more voluptuous or has silkier hair or bouncier curls or whatever. The same goes for intelligence or personality or what have you. Remember that every single person has experienced insecurity and self-doubt, even the person whose voice never cracks and who gets killer grades. I have absolutely no doubt that you are an incredible person, Libby, and there may come a time (if it hasn’t already happened) when someone will envy you and the life you lead on the outside, and you might want to say to that person, “Hey, but my life isn’t perfect!” Just as your best friend would probably say that to you if she knew you were comparing yourself with her. All we can do in this short life we have on earth is to be kind to ourselves and to remember that we all lead messy, uncertain inner lives, and that’s OK. What’s not OK is to believe that there exists someone who doesn’t lead such a life, because that person doesn’t exist, and once we accept that, we can start the hard work of really giving ourselves the beneficence, love, and acceptance that we deserve. —Jenny

If you have a question for Just Wondering, please send it to youaskedit@rookiemag.com.

52 Comments

  • KinuKinu April 10th, 2012 11:04 PM

    so awesome……good vibes….and hopefully I’ll have good dreams :D night Rookie readers….>O<……

  • roserach April 10th, 2012 11:57 PM

    Wow. As always you guys produced a simple idea that has given me a major paradigm shift. In question number four you brought up such a powerful point. I’ve never viewed comparing yourself to others that way. It never occurred to me that the way you view yourself is so different from how you view people’s outside way of presenting themselves.

    Also I wish so badly that I had seen the answer to number 2 a few years ago. It is so important to remember not to change yourself for others. Even my parents told me that it was my fault I couldn’t make friends, but now that I’m in middle school and have met more people I’ve realized that there are tons of people in the world. I’ve realized that you might not have met your type of people yet. KEEP WAITING! MAKE SURE YOUR STILL BEING YOU WHEN THEY COME!!!! That’s my best advice. Thanks rookie for being you.

  • annoyingcat April 10th, 2012 11:59 PM

    I find it a little strange that one of the answers said that the inability to connect with someone and a feeling of loneliness was not “normal.” I know normal is kind of a tough phrase to define, but I think teenagers often feel this way, at least from my experience.
    I have great friends, but I still feel lonely sometimes and feel that I don’t truly “connect” to them. It comes and goes and is usually a bit irrational, but it still happens all the same. I just wanted to point out to the person who asked that question that they are not the only ones feeling that way.

  • Kathryn April 11th, 2012 12:02 AM

    TAVI IS AMAZING

  • cono403 April 11th, 2012 12:05 AM

    Hi, to the girl who feels utterly lonely in high school, I just want to say that I totally agree with the advice Tavi gave, and that it totally will get better.
    I’m just wrapping up my first year away at university, and it took me what seemed like FOREVER to meet people I connected with. I was completely miserable for my first semester. I didn’t fit with my university’s rich, sorority/frat stereotype at all, and it seemed like everywhere I looked those were the only people that I saw. I spent a lot of time in my tiny dorm room being anti social – I definitely did get in some priceless “discovering me” time.
    The thing that saved me from a school transfer/total isolation was trying to remain open to everything and keep “doing you”. Just because you don’t have anyone to go to local concerts with doesn’t mean you should stop going to local concerts if you freaking love live music. Eventually you will run into a girl in your caf with a Dan Mangan tshirt on and yell “OH MY GOD HOW GREAT WAS THE SHOW LAST NIGHT AMIRIGHT” and she will respond with “SO GOOD I CRIED AND I MET HIM” and then you will realize you don’t even know each others’ names and then you will suddenly realize hey, maybe I have more in common with these people than I thought. Just because this girl is in a sorority doesn’t mean she’s not cool and interesting and funny. Feeling disconnected from everyone taught me to give people a chance and to stop judging and stereotyping. And now? I absolutely love the people I’ve met here, I’m leaving in 10 days and I’m going to miss them like crazy.
    This too shall pass!

    • shelley April 11th, 2012 5:54 AM

      Just want to say thank you for this comment. I’ve been at uni a while now and although I have a like two friends and some acquaintances, I keep seeing gigs I want to go to and not daring to go on my own. But this has inspired me to try it. What harm can it do. Thank you :) xxxxx

  • AwesomeFrances April 11th, 2012 12:06 AM

    Jenny, I am 25 and still struggling with feeling inferior. Your advice came at such a good time. xx

    • Jenny April 11th, 2012 6:56 PM

      I’m so glad! I’m 28 and struggle with it too…

  • imaboyyyyy April 11th, 2012 12:08 AM

    OFF TOPIC. but tavi, your TEDx video is trending on youtube. YEssss!

    • KinuKinu April 11th, 2012 1:22 PM

      OMG……totally forgot about that !!!!!!I am going to watch it now :D

  • guiltfreedonut April 11th, 2012 12:30 AM

    “It’s all about striking a balance between being Liz Lemon and being Stevie Nicks.”

    I instantly knew it was Tavi.

    I love you, Rookie. Each of these answers has true personality and perspective.

    • Yellie April 11th, 2012 12:36 AM

      haha ya i was like “Stevie Nicks?…Tavi”

  • Adrienne April 11th, 2012 12:33 AM

    Omg I love the Liz Lemon and Stevie Nicks example. Brilliant! Thanks so much, Tavi. The Just Wondering feature is my favorite!

    http://theaverageasiangirl.blogspot.com

  • Yellie April 11th, 2012 12:35 AM

    On loneliness… that is something i know well. The question is pretty ambiguous though. I know from experience that someone telling you that others feel the same doesn’t always help (it makes me go off the deep end). Tavi’s advice is pretty good. Loneliness is fine for a period of time, but if it hurts and doesn’t get better… listen to advice like Tavi’s and not personal accounts because nobody else is you, and they can’t know what you feel or how you work. :)

  • cherrycola27 April 11th, 2012 12:59 AM

    I like the loneliness answer. I’ve been feeling pretty lonely lately and I’ve been trying my best to change the situations I’m in, but it’s hard. I don’t really know how because, yes, loneliness is dependent on the people around you. I’m hoping things will get better, though.
    As for the last answer, it reminds me of something that John and Hank Green (of the Vlogbrothers) always say. “Imagine people complexly”. Nobody is who you think they are on the outside, or who you assume them to be. They have whole stories and lives and struggles that we many times don’t realize. Trying to imagine other people complexly really puts things in a new perspective.

    • starcollector April 11th, 2012 7:17 AM

      VLOGBROTHERS! :) aww I miss watching those videos. DFTBA!

      • cherrycola27 April 11th, 2012 11:46 PM

        DFTBA! :) You can still watch them, you know. Haha

    • luneyes April 15th, 2012 10:34 AM

      DFTBA! It’s always great when two amazing things collide :’)

  • Mags April 11th, 2012 1:01 AM

    Loneliness isn’t normal? Hmm. I disagree. That’s like saying sadness isn’t normal. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge all those sticky, awkward, painful emotions. Like loneliness. Like melancholy. Sometimes you have to let yourself feel those unpleasant emotions so that you can move on to feeling, and appreciating, the kinder, gentler ones.

    I guess it also depends on what your definition of “normal” is. Normal can mean several things: common, naturally occurring, conforming to a rule. Is loneliness common? Yes. Is it naturally-occuring? Yes. Is it conforming to a rule? Possibly not, since society seems to have an unspoken rule against feeling lonely, like it’s somehow shameful.

    As someone who’s felt lonely often, I can tell you that it is normal. But it can be awfully disruptive and damaging. If you feel that it is interfering with your life, I do recommend seeing a doctor or therapist who can help you. But it’s not NOT normal, I promise.

  • Susann April 11th, 2012 1:24 AM

    I’m always amazed by the quality of your answers! Thanks for doing such a great job!

    http://fashioninpepperland.blogspot.com

  • ivoire April 11th, 2012 3:09 AM

    Libby Lee, you are definitely not alone! I here feel almost exactly as you do! You’re not alone feeling lonely.

  • starcollector April 11th, 2012 6:46 AM

    Oh my god, the question about being lonely. Yes. Honestly I have to tell myself a lot that the reason I can’t connect with anyone is that I’m an ARTIST and they don’t GET ME. Haha, whatever works I suppose. Pretty much you just have to convince yourself that it’s just a phase and everyone in the outside world isn’t having as fun a time at all their parties as it seems to us outsiders.

    http://china-lily.blogspot.com/

  • unicorn April 11th, 2012 7:25 AM

    While it’s perfectly normal to be lonely sometimes, or feel not able to connect to people sometimes, but “to feel unable to connect with anyone, and utterly lonely” isn’t that normal. Because we all need someone that we can talk to and know they can understand that, and if you can’t do that with anyone you know, at all, it sucks.

  • sully-bean April 11th, 2012 8:07 AM

    … I just registered so I can comment to say um, thank you for this.
    Seriously.
    I was reading Tavi’s answer to the second question and it just… hit me so hard. Honestly, I don’t really know if it’s because I was listening to the Glee version of Go Your Own Way at the same time, but oh my goodness. I needed that. SO MUCH. It’s just, fuck. I’m Stevie fucking Nicks! I AM STEVIE FUCKING NICKS, OKAY!
    That was amazing, so thank you so very, very much.
    ‘You don’t need to catch up to your best friend because you are not competing in the same race. No one is, because there is not single race that we are all running in.’ And that just made me cry. So yeah. I really needed this without even properly knowing I did, and if I could think of an amazing Rookie-esque metaphor for that feeling then I would try and describe it, believe me, but alas. I cannot. So… I’ll just say it again
    THANK YOU ROOKIE.
    <333
    Love always, Sully.

  • MissKnowItAll April 11th, 2012 8:32 AM

    Does anyone else think Tavi should have her own life class show on OWN?

  • carlycarly April 11th, 2012 11:51 AM

    This comment is for Marina’s question…

    As someone who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design, I’ve always had people tell me how cool that is…How nice it must be to make clothes and do something that I love. Yes, it is pretty neat and exciting, but it comes with a price. As a result, sometimes I feel myself resenting all that I used to love about fashion because I am constantly immersed in it. Sometimes I WISH I could get lost in a textbook about science-y things, and enjoy fashion on the side. I took a chance studying something that I care about so much.

    Point is: you take a chance by pursuing something either way, whether it is something ‘safe’ or something you really love. There is also a fine line between the two. And PLEASE remember, a job is not your life! It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s say you take the dentistry route… Be a dentist from 9-5, and go home and spend the evening and weekends with your loved ones doing the other things you love and enjoy! You can be a dentist, an animal lover, a jogger, and an excellent cook! The only difference is that maybe you don’t get paid for all of them. Don’t stress, girl.

    Hope you see this, Marina!

  • ghostworld April 11th, 2012 12:57 PM

    ugh I wish I’ve read Tavi’s advice here in 9th grade. nevertheless this [feeling of loneliness] still relates to my life right now. so fucking much. I felt like Tavi was actually talking to me.

  • daydreamer April 11th, 2012 1:24 PM

    Thank you, Sady and Tavi for the wonderful advice. This just made my day :)

  • Mustachefan April 11th, 2012 1:25 PM

    I think loneliness is pretty normal, at least for a teenager.

  • ecw April 11th, 2012 1:39 PM

    Such well-worded and positive advice from Jenny. If you feel like this (as I often do) try reading Desiderata.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desiderata

    It’s very short and true.

    Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

    Eleanor X

  • thefondest April 11th, 2012 3:06 PM

    Thank you, Tavi. I’m in my third year of college, second as a transfer, and I’m lonely as shit. I’ve been trying everything to just find someone to hold on to and it’s not working. But I had a strange nirvana this weekend in which I discovered the power of being your own best friend. Like, even AUDREY HORNE didn’t really have any friends but she just constantly made shit happen for herself by being awesome.

    So to add to the PERFECT stuff Tavi said: When you’re lonely, you can pretty much do whatever you want without worrying about the consequences. Though the feeling really sucks, I think that’s kind of a beautiful thing you can take advantage of. Freedom really IS another word for nothing left to lose.

  • lastlong April 11th, 2012 3:06 PM

    I’m finishing a law degree which I liked, but did not love.

    I think it’s best, while exploring other avenues of course, to finish your dentistry degree. At least with that degree under your belt, you can do a conversion postgraduate course if you do find something you would prefer.

    • lastlong April 11th, 2012 3:07 PM

      The above directed at Marina’s comment, of course!!

  • Thiswickedtongue April 11th, 2012 3:20 PM

    Gosh, this made me cry, thanks rookie writers for your honesty and writing, this really helped.

    ps to Shelley – Go to the gigs! you won’t regret it! I went on my own before christmas and it wasn’t half as scary as I’d imagined :)

  • mollycatherine65 April 11th, 2012 6:07 PM

    I really think that being lonely and unable to connect is perfectly normal. I went through this exact same thing and now I know myself better.No therapy needed. It is really hard to connect to other people your age when the things that you are interested in is something that does not interest other people.

  • MissGorgeous April 11th, 2012 6:28 PM

    Tavi, thank you so, so much for your advice. I am feeling the exact same way as the questioner, and your advice was fantastic, and truly motivated me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. <333
    Sincerely,
    Drew

  • starrynightgirls April 11th, 2012 7:22 PM

    Wow, I am lonely in high school too. Thank you so so much for this article, it really helped! :) I needed that courage to move friend groups . I can always count on Rookie for everything ! :)

  • Bean April 11th, 2012 8:13 PM

    Oh my god, there’s a question from another Marina!!! I’m a Marina! I was the first Marina to ever be born at the hospital I was born at and I have never gone to school with another Marina (and i’m in college now). I’m a nerd and this excites me greatly.

  • Carol April 11th, 2012 10:02 PM

    What is normal? I don’t know. No one knows.

    But here’s what I do know, anonymous? Don’t let anyone — not even Tavi Gevinson — tell you what they consider to be abnormal.

    Several people on here have commented they feel the same as you, myself included. Know that you’re not alone.

  • northernground April 12th, 2012 12:39 AM

    Oh wow- I completely relate with the first question. I have this fear of being 35 and hating the job that I’m in, so I feel like I have to be extremely cautious about what sort of career I take. To be honest, I wish it was possible to constantly be changing your profession, but I guess that’s only possible without going to university… disappointing.

  • Luna167 April 13th, 2012 11:22 AM

    Hey! I know the question mark guy! he is married to a lady that volunteers with my school club! (just thought i’d let ya know)

    • Anaheed April 13th, 2012 12:28 PM

      Oh my god!

    • MissKnowItAll April 13th, 2012 5:06 PM

      You’re rubbing shoulders with pure awesomeness

  • Sea goddess April 13th, 2012 6:20 PM

    Ok every time i comment here i always say how much i love rookie but guys its just INEVITABLE. For the second question i used to feel just like that, and trust me it sucked, but DOING UR STUFF AND NOBODY BEING ARGUING OR CRAP about it is totally true which is pretty damn cool, and don’t think no one feels like u or cares for u, trust me it’ll pass it’s just these dumb/crazy teenage years
    ONCE AGAIN I LOVE ROOKIE WOOOOO

  • yourenotfunny April 13th, 2012 10:18 PM

    TAVI. Your answer was beautiful. Thank you for addressing a topic that I normally find so difficult to express in words so thoroughly! I’m tearing up a little, not gonna lie. I feel so unnatural and alienated next to everyone else, I have trouble making connections with people my age and I feel like when I try to explain how I feel it’s like a smoke signal that nobody can see. and part of what I’ve been struggling with lately is whether that is because I’m just “different” or if it is something everyone experiences but few people actually talk about. but WHATEVA I just wanted to say I love Rookie so much <3

  • Kaleidoscopeeyes April 13th, 2012 11:08 PM

    The piece on loneliness was just what I needed right now. Thank you so much. I feel a little less alone now.

  • lucsto April 16th, 2012 8:31 AM

    Jenny,
    The question you answered and the way you answered it is actually perfect. I’ve been feeling that way about one of my closest friends since we met in second grade. I’ve always felt like she is thinner, prettier, smarter, more mature, more elegant, more put-together than I could ever be. She wears cool vintage clothes and I wear old clothes too, (but I have to buy mine at thrift stores and she can buy hers at vintage stores because she has a limitless piggy bank). This year, I made a lot of new friends and she became friends with them, too, now I’ve kind of grown apart from them and they’re all still close with her. She has gotten a lot thinner over this year and I’ve been burning up with envy, she stopped eating and so I tried to do that, too. I didn’t realize until I read this that I had been changing myself because of her.
    I had slowly been growing to hate her (even though I know it’s not her fault), my jealousy was all-consuming even when she was kind to me. This is an unhealthy reationship and it’s not her fault, it’s mine. My first step, though was to admit it to myself.
    After I read this, I went and cried a heart-wrenching sob and even though I felt bad, I feel better than I have in a long time.
    Thanks Rookie
    You’re changing my life.

    • Jenny April 17th, 2012 1:59 PM

      You’re in my heart, girl. It helps to cry just to cry and get some feelings out. We’ll never be better than our fantasy of everyone else in the world, so we just have to find our own way to love ourselves. Easier said than done, of course. I’ll never be able to completely stop comparing myself to others–it’s just too hard–but dang, it feels great on the days, weeks, and months when I can let it go.

  • mangachic April 16th, 2012 3:52 PM

    I’m also one of the peoples uneasy about the answer to the 2nd question…i don’t know how to say it but it seemed pretty harsh to tell someone who’s admitting they’re extremely lonely that they’re not normal…
    That being said Tavi is the most incredible 15 year old ever and she changed my life.

  • mia christine June 16th, 2013 3:24 PM

    Thank you Jenny for that last post. I have felt like there’s something wrong with my personality since 5th grade and I still do. I think now it’s just a bad habit and being out of practice with talking to people but it’s still there. And it doesn’t help that my school is super small and most of the kids think alike. (unlike me) I know that a lot of other girls probably feel this way but I feel like they never show it as badly as I do. But I suppose everyone feels that way and THANK YOU again for helping me feel a bit better. BTW I just discovered this site and I love it. :)