Dear Diary

August 7, 2013

Where is our mind?

Katherine

Last winter, there was a Saturday night when I was working on an essay and my college roommate and her friends swept me away to go get dinner and hang out with them. At dinner they asked one girl they had been friends with since August what she liked to do. “I’m not sure,” she said. “I’ve thought about being into photography before, so who knows?” They all seemed to agree that photography was her kind of thing.

Later, we ended up in someone’s dorm room, where three of us (including me) settled on a bed while another two sat on a table next to the bed. There was a girl on the floor working on an art project. Photography Girl opened up her friend’s computer, got on Netflix, and started talking about shows we might watch. “What about Louie? Do people watch that? Do you think it would be good? What is it, a drama? Comedy? Oh yeah, it’s, like, comedy. What’s it about?” She hadn’t asked me specifically, and the show is not something I’ve ever been interested in, but I explained the premise to her. “Okayyy,” she said before continuing to just like shout out names of shows. “Weeds? NO—American Horror Story?? ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT? DO WE DO THAT? IS FRIENDS FUNNY? IS IT TOO LATE TO WATCH FAMILY GUY? BOYS I KNOW LIKE THAT.”

All the other girls looked at one another for a minute with scrunched faces before agreeing that they didn’t want to get into a series that night. They decided to search for a movie. “Oooh, movie night,” one girl said. I stopped talking altogether and got under a knitted blanket because I was cold. It felt a bit too intimate in that context, but I was pretending I wasn’t there so that I could stay calm until I had an opportunity to leave.

“What is it, then? Horror? Drama? Comedy?” They continued to flail. You know when fish put rocks in their mouths and then frantically spit them out? That was what was happening.

“ANIME,” the girl on the carpet said, leaning towards us. The group ignored her and decided to go with Louie after all. It’s not even like they made a decision to watch it; it’s more like the show just started playing. They paid a minimal amount of attention to what was happening onscreen and started talking about how they might want to go to a party or to a club. “Are there even parties happening? Should we go to that club? Where was it that we went last week? How much was cover, again? Do we still have alcohol? Do you think we can get more? Maybe we should just go to X’s house, but I think he has friends over. You know what? His friends will probably just be chill and, like, doing weed. Maybe we should do that.” After two episodes of Louie had played all but unnoticed, they decided they would go to their friend’s dorm and maybe smoke weed, then take it from there.

They invited me but I said I had an essay to write, which I did, and I got away. As I wiggled out of the bed, they talked about how they didn’t like Louie. “I don’t know, American Horror Story seems more us.”

I keep on revisiting this night, each time with greater anxiety. The scene in the dorm room was especially haunting. It was like these people—friends and acquaintances—had no way of discerning their likes or dislikes, no inner compass with which to navigate entertainment or culture or information. Everything with them was vague and noncommittal. They liked going to clubs and doing karaoke, but beyond that they had no apparent interests. They were thinking about being into photography, felt like they could do something athletic, or were considering learning a John Mayer song on the guitar. They would do none of these things, because they didn’t have a camera or time for a sport or a guitar. They seemed at that moment like air particles, with no actual opinions to give anything they said or did weight or mass or gravity.

While I, unlike my ex-roommate and her friends, have actual legitimate interests (I’m into dance, theater, writing—see?), I still went to a college I knew I’d hate because I had no clue what I was doing when I was looking at schools and I did nothing to give myself one. Being around those girls brought out my anxiety about the air-particle-person choices I’ve made, and the ways in which I am like them makes me feel sick. I feel sick because I went to the same college as them and didn’t do anything I used to enjoy and spent a lot of time on the floor of my dorm room with the lights off, too afraid to go to class or go out to get food when I was hungry. I felt disconnected and like everything else was disconnected too, and I thought a lot about how scary that was and I tried really hard to make things connect in my head, even though I knew deep down that you can’t force connections. I got mostly A’s but I got a B in speech. Several professors told me that I was “exceptional” or going to be a “real writer.” One told me I was “one of those brilliant students who come along every few years,” which felt like shit because it was so clearly false. I am not brilliant; I am nearly air.

I want to vomit. ♦

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38 Comments

  • martaosbourne August 7th, 2013 7:34 PM

    ”They were like air particles, with no actual opinions to give anything they said or did weight or mass or gravity.”

    I have always felt so bad for thinking this but I can’t help it. I guess I’m too passionate about things to be that indifferent

    http://www.filthygrrrl.tumblr.com

  • Kristen August 7th, 2013 7:42 PM

    Katherine.

    Wow.

    That’s all I can say.

  • Ruby B. August 7th, 2013 8:16 PM

    Katherine, I identify with this so much that it’s crazy.
    “Being around those girls brought out my anxiety about the air-particle-person choices I’ve made, and the ways in which I am like them makes me feel sick.”
    Unlike them, you are an incredible writer and you’re pursuing it. You are not air. These girls might be, but it’s obvious that you’re going to do great things.

  • Sophie ❤ August 7th, 2013 8:24 PM

    These were the best entries in while! Loved them!

    http://theneonpapaya.com

  • AngstyTheBrave August 7th, 2013 8:31 PM

    Those girls in Katherine’s story really got to me. Partially because I can be like them, but mainly because, I don’t know, it seems like maybe they’re changing their whole personalities to please others? Or maybe their families controlled them. I’m not sure what to think about this.

    • Steward3 August 7th, 2013 9:17 PM

      yea, I also at times can be like those girls when I’m uncomfortable. From reading what Katherine wrote, it is making me think a lot. I have been both Katherine and the girls in different situations.

      http://steward3.blogspot.com

  • lu sea August 7th, 2013 8:56 PM

    Britney~

    I’ve felt this.. imprisoned by the past, haunted by memories.. stagnant and waiting for someone to push me forward.

    Someone came into my life, and left.. this has happened before, but this time, there was no closure. My world was turned upside down and I was left to pick up the pieces. I didn’t find the strength to pick them up for a long time. I uttered this mantra: “be present and move forward” but couldn’t figure out HOW.

    It took me a long time to find my ground and exist in reality again. I can’t say for sure how I crawled out of that void.. but all I can say is.. you’re not alone.

  • Emma August 7th, 2013 9:07 PM

    Ruby, I have been trying to meditate for months..it is crazy difficult. I read somewhere, thought, that you shouldn’t expect to reach enlightenment or have visions, and that each session is valuable and important even if nothing radical happens. Anyway, keep trying! :) I’m right there with you.

  • FluffAndSparkles August 7th, 2013 10:53 PM

    Britney-

    I feel like that all the time, especially in the summer when I don’t have a lot to occupy my attention. I feel so trapped in my body, like every little thought is smothering me. My advice is to try to talk to new people if you can. Or distract yourself with something you’ve never done before.

  • jocelyn rhodes August 7th, 2013 11:00 PM

    brittany–
    this is my first actual comment on a rookie article even though i’ve written and rewritten comments for other articles in the past but just never posted them (perfectionism at its finest).
    i guess i felt i related so much to what you were saying in your entry that i really wanted to let you know.
    sometimes i rely on needing to talk to others so much because i’m afraid of my own thoughts, not in what they really are but in what they will become. yet when i’m with others i can pretend to escape my thoughts. especially with school starting soon and having to see all these people again, i just find myself living in memories, remembering them as being better than they were, instead of working on the thousands of things i need to get done for senior yr, college planning, etc and trying to live in the present.
    i don’t know if i’ve shared too much here, but it’s the internet so whatever. i just wanted to let you know that i feel ya gurl

  • martianbaybee August 7th, 2013 11:54 PM

    Katherine, your diary is probably my favorite thing on Rookie.

  • M.C-Olivia August 8th, 2013 12:03 AM

    I wrote a really lengthy comment but clearly it was not approved. Main point: I used to feel that this blog did its best to reach out to girls and give a sense of community as well as being a judge-free place. However, after following this blog my opinions have changed. To me, Rookie is just as exclusive as any other clique, something I thought it was against. I mean considering the heavy influence of Feminism and Riot Grrrl and Girl power, etc. and womanliness, etc. I thought it brought all kinds of girls together but it just divides them even more. This blog uses its alternate tastes in music and fashion and world issues and general distaste for society as a mask to all it really is: another, online, clique. Its full of advice that often applies to one kind of girl: the girl who writes for this blog. If you don’t identify with that girl then prepare to feel unwelcome. It targets one social group and neglects(or even rejects) the rest. It praises feminism, yet all I see is girl bashing. (Example this article: girls who are not smart are unworthy of attention and compared to particles of air.) Really?? That’s how you chose to describe another human?? I regret wasting $40 on the Rookie book. I was clearly fooled into thinking that such a blog would actually ring true to what it claims to be. Its full of pseudo-intellectual aspiring writers who have alternate styles (that they believe makes them superior) and overuse the word “aesthetically”. And yet it slams superficiality. I guess its just a blog and that makes me a “troll” but i’m just disappointed and moody. Seeya.

    • photi August 8th, 2013 1:54 AM

      Hey M.C-Olivia! Although i can see where you’re coming from, i think your claim that ‘all i can see is girl bashing’ is maybe a bit misguided. I honestly cannot see how rookie promotes that behaviour in any way. I think the comparison of those girls to ‘air particles’ was more applicable to their indecisive and fickle characteristics, rather than anything related to intellect. But hey, maybe I’m wrong, I’m not the author.
      And i think labelling something ‘pseudo-intellectual’ is a really easy way of dismissing and undermining something’s true importance. In my opinion, any publication is going to appeal to a certain demographic. The collaboration of like-minds is probably what makes rookie work. Since it’s an online magazine, it’s pretty great that it can be accessible to anybody rather only those with means to physical copies. You honestly cannot find this sort of medium anywhere else

      • M.C-Olivia August 8th, 2013 4:05 AM

        The “girl bashing” was mostly related to this article as its what sparked my little rant. But I didn’t mean it in the way that this blog slut shames or openly disses ladies, it just sometimes makes me feel like its geared towards a specific girl and when one doesn’t really meet that, they feel left out. I understand there is a copious amount of different contributors but it seems like they all have common interests and cultural tastes. (ex: Very 90s inspired and lots of references to things like teen witch and other movies/shows/music/style the like and lets be honest, its almost comical how many times people say “aesthetically”) Its just that the the way I read the article left a really bad taste in my mouth. It was kind of insulting to me because I know girls like that (“air particles”)-heck I’m sure I am one at times, everyone is indecisive and has pipe dreams and so on. Point is: I thought this promoted feminism and women standing up for each other. Clearly I was mistaken.

    • Ruby B. August 8th, 2013 1:54 AM

      I know my opinion is fairly biased but I really disagree with you. Tavi, for example, likes lots of “non-mainstream” music, and she also loves Taylor Swift. Every writer here is different and are actual people, not just one “alternative” being. Also, I don’t think Katherine’s point was that the girls weren’t smart, but rather, they were undriven and lacked passion and interesting qualities, which is something Katherine didn’t want to be herself.

      • M.C-Olivia August 8th, 2013 4:38 AM

        Well, from an un-biased perspective, I can tell you what I see when I get on the site. I recognize that there is a big group of writers for this blog but, from the articles that I have read, they just don’t seem all that dynamic. There are similar references to pop culture and similar takes on style and the overuse of the word aesthetically-seriously, get a thesaurus. Everything always looks the same here. 90′s inspired outfits or 60′s/70′s sometimes. References to things like Teen Witch, Twin Peaks, Hole and a whole bunch of other obsolete things from the 90′s that pop up in countless articles etc. I can acknowledge that Tavi likes mainstream music, but she is hardly what I would consider mainstream. No one on here is mainstream, which isn’t a bad thing but that’s why it feels so exclusive, because everyone has got these funky alternative views which make it harder to relate to unless you share these views. I’m not even sure if i can properly explain what I’m trying to say. So here: I liked this blog because it wasn’t about marketing beauty products to women and didn’t push trends on people like say, Cosmo does but, I’ve realized its just like any other magazine except alternate tastes.It just substitutes sex positions for flower crown making and the latest jeans for second hand garb. Magazines are usually marketed towards a specific person, Rookie is geared towards a different kind of gal, fine, but stop acting like it unites women, it just unites the ones who have the same interests in you guys. I wont bother you anymore, wouldn’t want this to aesthetically displease!

        • vintagebarbie August 8th, 2013 10:15 AM

          I am not meaning this to be an argument in any way but my honest opinion is that these girls aren’t trying to be exclusive. Being a writer for my own blog, I write about music to help people who want to find new music to listen to. If we all wrote about Top 40, then who would find new music? Rookie has given me posts that I have agreed on the music and been just fun to read for it is cool to have the same point of view on music and fashion but other posts I have had no idea what they are talking and I learned what those things were. Rookie has gotten me into a lot of alternative music and taught me about another side of life. We learn from each other. What Ruby is trying to say is that these people aren’t a cult. Every single rookie writer is a person not an alternative being and that is what makes Rookie so special. A community of people who are similar in some ways but different in others. We learn from each other.
          -Ann
          http://howfittingblog.blogspot.com

        • intergalactic fork August 8th, 2013 12:18 PM

          finally someone who agrees with me! i wonder if were the only ones.
          i agree that this is a magazine for like alt girls, and i think they should advertise it as being so. like in the site description it says “rookie is a mag for teen girls” it should be “rookie is a mag for alt girls who love (insert movies, shows, decades)” i do feel left out when i read this mag sometimes and i dont think rookie is all that its made out to be.

        • notnobody August 8th, 2013 9:48 PM

          If you don’t like what you see, why not submit some stuff of your own? While I can’t entirely speak for rookie, I’m sure the editors are always looking for more and diverse content.

    • Runaway August 8th, 2013 2:13 PM

      I read your lenghty comment, M.C-Olivia! It was here for a while.
      Honestly, I think Katherine’s piece is great. I’ve felt the way she described for most of my life. Then, I read your comment and…I think you’re right, too. I know I’ve used the fact that I’m the “clever-girl” type to feel better about myself when I had problems to fit in. I do see how she was emotionally and physically isolating herself (been there, done that). Katherine is also right, though. You should take your own decissions and try to live your life passionately.

  • junebug August 8th, 2013 12:45 AM

    Katherine– I am starting at a state school next week and I am so worried that is how my classmates will be. Air particles. Not that going to a liberal arts school means you have opinions/tastes, it just means there’s a better chance of that, you know? And people like that who don’t really have anything they like to do or especially anything they truly passionately LIKE as far as movies, books, music, etc. go…they scare the sh*t out of me.

    Here’s to hoping my experience goes better than yours did :(

  • r0cketdog August 8th, 2013 3:27 AM

    Caitlin – I really relate to your diary this week. I’m going crazy. Hang in there.

    Katherine – those are some of the saddest questions I’ve ever heard. “Do we do this?” “Is it too late to watch family guy?” And I used to be like that too, always worrying if i was doing it right…but it’s just mirrors reflecting mirrors. People reflecting nothing off of each other. I see a lot of people I know that like the breakfast club, but they only like it because everyone else likes it. And you’re a great writer, your professors don’t call just anyone brilliant. I wish I could write like you.

    ‘“We are here because our thoughts are tangled,” she told me once. “You just need to learn to organize and compartmentalize them.”’ While that’s beautiful, it scares me. Some of the greatest ideas come when your thoughts are tangled and mingling in your head. But I guess having your thoughts tangled all the time isn’t nice.

    Brittany, that’s exactly what I do. Use the past to escape the present. But you can imagine the future to escape the present, too.

  • M.C-Olivia August 8th, 2013 4:47 AM

    As for pseudo-intellectual, everyone one on here is so self-righteous, they think they just know everything. Its comes across as condescending and is a totally superior attitude. Get over yourself.

    • BabyCthulhu August 8th, 2013 1:38 PM

      I don’t think the “particles of air” comment was a criticism, I think it was just an honest account of what she was thinking at the time. If that’s what these diaries intend to do, from time to time they will contain negative, un-feminist and downright bitchy sentiments and it’s important to be realistic about that. It doesn’t mean the writer or this site is any of those things, it just means they’re human. I’ve always gotten the impression that’s the message of rookie, definitely not that they “know everything”. Since this site is aimed at teen girls, particularly who already feel insecure and left out that must make readers (inc. myself) feel bad sometimes which is a shame but is always a discussion on here. I’ve never read a piece here that intentionally attacked anyone. I think your problem with rookie being geared towards specific interests is ridiculous. What isn’t? It certainly doesn’t mean they can’t also promote girl-power just because the site won’t interest every one. I’m sorry you feel excluded because of that but also that’s your problem. I think maybe it’s impossible to have a place where every one feels completely welcome and I think there should definitely be an article about that.

    • Ruby B. August 8th, 2013 10:01 PM

      The “air particle” section had literally nothing to do with girls liking mainstream media or being “dumb.”

  • vintagebarbie August 8th, 2013 10:27 AM

    Katherine, I really like how this post wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows. You showed a different side of yourself and I liked it. Your post was like a conversation with me almost as if you were talking to me directly. You’re great Katherine.
    -Ann
    http://howfittingblog.blogspot.com

  • Emmie August 8th, 2013 10:33 AM

    Katherine, I’m so glad you transferred to a different school and I’m excited to see what you think of this year. I understand the idea of “air particle” people… college and trying to be your own person is challenging, but it gets easier as you go along. Keep being awesome!

  • silvermist August 8th, 2013 11:00 AM

    Katherine, your entry has made me think that maybe I am kind of one of those air particle girls.
    I have just finished a degree in something I like but not that much which I chose because three years ago the idea of studying it sounded good even though I literally knew nothing about the area. Like these girls you describe I say I like writing but I’ve never even tried to get anything published, I stopped updating my six-year-old blog because I was paranoid of everyone’s possible opinions on me, I asked and got a guitar for Christmas and I never really tried to learn how to play it.
    I also think this might be connected with how fast everything is today. Example: Scrolling tumblr dashboard – oh a picture of the sea – let’s re-watch Pirates of the Caribbean!1!! – (5 min into the movie) stopping this for a second just to check my photos from disneyland! – just another pause to watch “it’s a small world” in youtube – snack time!!! – …
    I think it’s like being bored and hyper at the same time. In the end I’m left with no real interests to put in internship applications :(

    Thanks for your entry! <3

  • saramarit August 8th, 2013 2:16 PM

    Well… I had the exact same struggle with Netflix last night. I’m on the rebound from watching The Office in it’s entirity and I can’t emotionally commit to anything. I tried out Firefly but it’s not my thing and I thought I’d watch a non serious film so I watched the first ten mintues of Eat Pray Love and recoiled in horror. Eventually I settled on Fargo which I hadn’t seen for years and it was brilliant (Marge is like a hero for our times I think).
    And also I’ve got a Louie DVD on it’s way from Amazon so…

    Sometimes it’s hard to pick what to watch ya know.

  • Tara Warkentin August 8th, 2013 2:49 PM

    Britney
    “Whoa, that happens to me, too!
    it really does. Have you read Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf? Beside being a brilliant book, the whole story is centred around living memories.

  • LaurenMichele August 8th, 2013 3:17 PM

    Katherine – I can really relate to your entry. Especially when in college, it’s not out of the ordinary to have these anxieties. I’m starting college in about a month and it seems like each day I wonder about what it is I truly love and where my true passions lie. Sometimes I feel like they’re too scattered, like they’re these very ambiguous, foggy blobs floating above me. Sometimes I feel like my interests are no different than the next person, and I feel my sense of individuality fading from the anxiety building up. But truthfully, we all have air-particle choices! I don’t think I know a single person who is completely defined in their interests. There is SO much out there, how can one be completely sure all the time? Don’t be afraid, I think having those air particle choices are a good thing, in a way. They just show that we’re human, and sometimes we just do things because, well….we can! This was a fantastic entry. <3

  • plantqueen August 8th, 2013 7:56 PM

    i know rookie diaries aren’t supposed to be perfect and i know they’re about what the writers are feeling but i feel like i’m the kind of person who doesn’t know what she’s doing most of the time. i can never make up my mind, i switch interests frequently– does that make me an air particle person? does that make me insipid and shallow?

    • GlitterKitty August 8th, 2013 8:31 PM

      I don’t think being indecisive makes you shallow or stupid… It just makes you indecisive. I have trouble sticking to one thing a lot of the time and making decisions. I think that’s pretty normal when you’re a teenager (I’m assuming you are too). Or maybe you keep changing interests because you haven’t really found “your thing” yet. If you give something a try and you find it boring, no use sticking with it.

      I think what Katherine was getting at was that these girls could not make a decision themselves or find interests of their own but instead just did whatever their friends were doing. They didn’t really have their own interests or ideas, they just floated along with everyone else. And I think it’s pretty fair to say that everyone acts a little shallow or stupid or air particle-ish at sometimes but that doesn’t mean you’re a shallow or stupid person.

  • Paprika August 8th, 2013 8:08 PM

    Britney-
    “Woah, that happens to me too!”
    For me it feels less like being frozen in time, and more like being in some sort of limbo. Summer always seems to be a period of dormancy for me, probably because it is, in many respects, a transition period. While I wait for a new chapter in my life to magically open, I feel restless and uneasy. In other words, I’m totally feeling your diary entree.

  • Maryse89 August 9th, 2013 1:46 AM

    Hey just chiming in on Katherine’s entry. I usually really relate to her since she reminds me a lot of myself at her age (I also think we went to a very similar college)

    but here are a few things I thought reading it, from my aged perspective (well, I’m 24):

    Freshman year of college, everyone is in a state of flux. If there is ever a time where one is allowed to be indecisive, shallowly into something, changeable, suggestible, interested in everything and nothing at the same time, trying on different tastes and identities, and only vaguely committed to any of them, IT IS YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR.

    Honestly, those girls sound like me and my friends back then. Guess what? We are all now graduated and pursuing careers we are passionate about…nothing air bubbly about it at all. The real world has a way of making people more serious and consequential

    Secondly, even though there might be other things about these ladies that made them unfit to be friends, judging people by their tastes and interests or lack there of is a little small-minded. My besties in college liked the most mainstream, head-ache inducing music available and watched almost exclusively trash reality tv. Instead of bonding over tastes, I appreciated them for their loyalty, their sense of humor, their strength, their vulnerabilities, their various charming personality quirks…

    anyway tl;dr: being a little shallow and confused is 100% OK in college, and people are more than the sum of their tastes and interests

  • Serena Head August 10th, 2013 9:46 AM

    I completely understand where Katherine is coming from, and I really liked the post and writing. I do think however that these girls DO have opinions, interests, etc. I think that everyone does, but some learn to repress this, to bury it, to conform – to the point that they really have no conscious idea of what they like anymore, and more significantly, are afraid to commit to anything unless it has outside approval.

    They may have been exposed to the ‘normal girl ideal’ more frequently than others. We are all exposed to this, but we all react in different ways. We differ in traits like agreeableness and neuroticism and ability to make decisions. Some people develop a fear of being different or opinionated that is akin to social anxiety, while others are only mildly affected by other’s opinions. Of course no one is immune to this… But let’s cut each other some slack. These girls will realise that who their own tastes are okay one day, quickly or bit by bit, and as they do their multi-dimensional interests will be displayed in full colour.

    But until then, they are nor air particles. Being afraid of what people think (to the point of being non-commital) does not make someone’s mind empty as much as it makes it stifled and confused, floundering for something to latch onto for a point of reference.

  • midnightcall August 10th, 2013 6:27 PM

    totally relating to brittany right now. thank you for this :)

  • barbroxursox August 27th, 2013 3:20 PM

    Oh my god, Katherine, I literally feel exactly like you right now. College life, man. It’s weird and unsettling.

    http://lizard-onawindowpane.tumblr.com