You Asked It

Karen Elson Is Your Friend

Crushes, jealousy, and S-E-X.

Karen Elson is a music maker, a model, and just a rad human being, among other accomplishments. But the coolest thing she does, in our eyes, is answer your questions on the regs here on Rookie. Her latest dispatch:

I feel jealous any time someone around me is successful or does something cool or interesting. Everyone seems to know exactly what they want in life and how to get it. Instead of feeling empowered by their example, I just feel jealous and down. It’s killing me. —A.

Jealously is just a mask, and usually beneath it is insecurity. Everyone has felt envy and jealousy; every one of us has wished our lives could be different, and better. Here’s the thing, though: your jealously is getting in the way of your actually getting up and figuring out what it is you want from life. You can continue to mope about what other people have, but it will do you do good at all—in fact, it’s preventing you from moving forward.

Everyone around you might seem sure of what they want, but even the most “successful” people feel insecure and uncertain at times. I think you may be putting others on an unrealistic pedestal, and not realizing that we’re all really in the same boat—we’re all chasing our dreams, changing our dreams, questioning ourselves and faltering sometimes, then picking up and moving on. Some people do have a head start in life, of course! But to let that defeat you would be a crime.

So, what do you do? First of all, I think you should work on your insecurities. Accept that you feel jealous, then try to reverse that feeling by focusing on the things in life that make YOU feel inspired and empowered. (Clearly you don’t feel that way when you compare yourself with other people—by the way, no one does—so stop doing that!)

We all have days when the green-eyed monster knocks on our door. But don’t let that cripple you. Accept it, then do what you need to do to feel good.

What changes should I expect after I start having sex? What will be different? —Chrissy, 17

The changes you do or do not feel will depend on what your actual first-time sexual experience is like. If it’s good, it may open the gates to your sexual self—you may feel empowered and discover things about your body you never knew. It might make you feel closer to the person you had sex with—or it might make you realize that it’s time to move on. If your first sexual experience is confusing, you may also feel insecurity, shame, confusion. All of these reactions are totally normal, and it always takes anyone, of any gender, a while to figure the whole deal out. No matter what, though, you should always feel respected! Don’t ever question that.

You may also feel nothing at all. It may be no more or less than sex, plain and simple, and that is also OK. Don’t feel pressured to “lose your virginity”—that pressure can take all the fun of it. Do it if and when you’re ready, enjoy yourself, be safe, and stay true to your feelings.

My boyfriend is constantly flirting with other girls. It hurts my feelings and makes me feel jealous. I asked him what the deal was, and he said that he can have crushes on 100 girls but only be in love with me. I really want to believe him, but should I? –Confused

I have met many a flirt in my time, and I admit I can be an outrageous one also. A harmless flirtation or a random, un-acted-upon crush is natural. But 100 crushes seems excessive, and it also sounds like maybe your boyfriend isn’t really reassuring you. Many people have crushes while in a relationship—that is totally natural; crushes come and go. But actions speak louder than words! If you feel like your boyfriend is disrespectful towards you and outwardly flirting with girls around you, that’s really not fair, because he knows it makes you sad. Discuss it again with him; be really specific about what actions hurt your feelings. If he flirts in front of you, and/or tells you about other women he’s attracted to, you can tell him that stuff is not cool. Set boundaries. Then maybe give him a chance to work on it.

That said, if you’re freaking out over every woman he glances at, that isn’t OK either—it’s only going to create tension. Everyone looks at people and even innocently flirts; it’s one of the pleasures of life. But if you’ve set reasonable boundaries with this guy, and he still can’t stop himself, I think you two should take a break. ♦

If you have a question about anything (seriously, ANYTHING) for Karen, or for the Rookie staff and associates, please send it to


  • vanguardinspace August 22nd, 2012 12:46 AM

    Wow, as always, Rookie is in tune with my life. The first question is something I’m dealing with right now because all of my friends are leaving for college and I feel like I’m eating their dust. I know I’ll be there next year but it’s hard to focus on the positive aspect of the situation–that I have that to look forward to–and not get bogged down in wishing I was already there.

  • TessAnnesley August 22nd, 2012 2:15 AM

    this is a lovely, wisdom-filled post to have on my 18th birthday… i feel a little weird knowing my teenage years are officially {almost) over, but I’ll be reading Rookie until I’m a granny if I have my way. thanks for the (unintentional) awesome birthday present, Rookie! xoxoxo

  • Narita August 22nd, 2012 3:00 AM

    I reconize the first one – all of my friends, well most of them, are writers too. Some of them get paid for it while they’re 15 of 16, I’m 15 and I don’t get a dime. The paper that gets me my biggest readership told me to think about how much I want, but I don’t know what’s normal and I can’t ask for money, I just can’t. It feels wrong.

    Anyway, my friends already have much more of a carreer than me, it seems. And then there’s me, I feel jealous and indeed insecure.

    • 062131 August 22nd, 2012 4:32 PM

      I kind of feel the same way about the money thing. I recently got paid for drawing for the first time. It was for some friends’ band and that only made it a bit more awkward for me to talk about money.

      Just do some research on how much people usually pay for that, ask those friends! Also, don’t underestimate yourself. Ask for what your think is fair. The worst that could happen is having to discuss a smaller price, but that’s OK.

  • WitchesRave August 22nd, 2012 7:50 AM

    Oh my god, karen elson is my friend :D

  • ivoire August 22nd, 2012 8:49 AM

    ok so i have a dilemma. there is a true story that i want to submit to rookie for next month but i feel like it’s taking advantage of a bad event?

  • jayne12 August 22nd, 2012 9:03 AM

    The first question and answer on here has been really good to read from the perspective of someone who has a friend I now think may feel this way about others. I used to think she was just miserable and couldn’t be happy for me or anyone else when something went right in my/their lives. She spends a lot of time talking about herself as if she is has something to prove and acting as if everything is some sort of competition. She also has a strange tendency to ‘copy’ others (in really quite an obvious way). So thanks for this it has really made me sympathise and made me want to work on our friendship rather than dropping her as many other of her close friends have done.
    Maybe the girl/guy who asked the first question should just speak to their friends about how they feel if they find they are acting this way? While everyone experiences jealousy on the odd occasion, if it gets to the point where it is determining your feelings and actions towards others (and so other peoples enjoyment of being around you) then maybe something should be done. I know if my friend was more honest about herself (if this is the issue) I may not have taken some of the things she did and said so personally and found her so irritating!

  • HollinsCollins August 22nd, 2012 10:08 AM

    I totally understand the first question..I’m really jealous, like even when say, someone’s reading the same book as me. Yeah.

  • posie.rose August 22nd, 2012 12:57 PM

    Rookie just reads my mind.

  • Rhiannon August 27th, 2012 2:51 PM

    much love for you rookie <3