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Editor’s Letter

February 2014: Escape

Photo by Tim Walker.

Photo by Tim Walker.

Hey Rooks!

Hopefully last month got you all inspired/motivated/pumped for 2014. For February, we’ll take a step back from 24/7 go-getting to explore the theme ESCAPE. Imagination, fiction, travel, adventure, losing yourself in order to find yourself. Finding ways to escape your situation even when you can’t physically leave (hi, school). Escaping obligations, standards, and stereotypes. Escaping arbitrary expectations as bestowed upon us by society. Escaping danger and damaging situations, and understanding the radical act of self-care.

Think storybooks, fairytales, postcards, and Maurice Sendak, but do not mistake Escape for something precious. We still want you all to take over the universe! This month’s theme is about living outside convention, and defining happiness and success for yourself. Consider this quotation from Beyoncé (who is always relevant):

There is room on this earth for many queens. I have an authentic, God-given talent, drive, and longevity that will always separate me from everyone else. I’ve been fortunate to accomplish things that the younger generation of queens dream of accomplishing. I have no desire for anyone else’s throne. I am very comfortable in the throne I’ve been building for the past 15 years.

So, although this month will pay its respects to daydreaming, I’m not suggesting we all cut ourselves off from the rest of the world. Personally, I’d like to build my own world within the one outside. I have no desire for anyone else’s throne; I am proud that I started Rookie, I am lucky that we are independent and that I’ve gotten to do it my way. But I want us all to examine and change the rest of our culture, too. I want to make sure the earth’s many queens get the opportunities to assume their rightful places.

A year ago, after feeling overworked and overwhelmed by how many eyes were on Rookie and on me, I thought the only way to escape the pressures that come with a conventional idea of success was to disappear completely. I seriously contemplated calling it a day, moving to the woods, and “nobly” becoming some reclusive artiste. The problem with that mindset is that I was still giving in to the voice of conventional success that I’d been denouncing. I was considering giving up my aspirations because I was scared of failing. I nearly convinced myself that the only way to feel free and confident in my work was to dismiss everyone else entirely.

Yesterday, while working all this out, I wrote in my diary:

What do I care about?

  • Being the CEO of my own life (copyright Jamia). Climbing to the top of my own ladder. Building my own throne.

  • Changing who gets to speak and why. Finding opportunities for Rookies, changing the journo game. Understanding the power of my platform, and sharing it. Lifting up people who deserve a greater audience.
  • Giving thought to the projects I choose. Not doing anything I will feel silly about promoting. Having dignity, integrity, good taste: “Build a good name…. Eventually, that name will be its own currency.” —William S. Burroughs
  • Expressing myself effectively. Giving artistic endeavors my all. Being honest but not attention-seeking, compliment-fishing, or pitiful.
  • Treating my readers with respect for their intelligence. Showing my genuine gratitude without being cheesy or excessive. Knowing that they do not owe me anything, and vice versa.
  • Accounting for praise and criticism alike with a grain of salt. Letting myself get excited about fun opportunities and sincere appreciation for my work, but remembering not to let it define me or become a priority.
  • Having good friends with whom I can share mutual support, trust, understanding, and love. Sticking by the people I can talk to about anything. Knowing the value of a good sleepover. Being there for my loved ones.
  • Keeping in touch with myself. Remembering who I am. Creating work just for me.
  • Reading books, watching movies and TV, and listening to music that inspire and teach me. Connecting with humanity through art. Finding myself in others’ creations.
  • Showing appreciation for the good things and good people in my life at all times. Not taking anything for granted. Focusing on what I do have, not what I don’t.
  • Taking care of myself, feeling embodied and healthy.
  • Making memories.
  • Being present.

I know it’s super self-help-y, but it can be hard to put things plainly without walking into clichés! My point is that it’s nice to keep in touch with yourself while going after what you want so that you can make sure you’re focused on what matters to you. I don’t want to be a woodsy recluse or one of those douchey musicians who act unhappy to be performing; I want my work to feel like something people can interact with and respond to. But I don’t want to spend my time chasing approval either; I want to make things I care about and see praise as an added bonus.

So. Send us your work, for this month or the next, and continue to slay in all of life’s arenas. (That was a typo, I meant to say “areas,” but ARENAS IT IS.)



  • lizams February 3rd, 2014 3:04 PM

    Tavi, your editor’s letters are always ON POINT.

  • Amy Rose February 3rd, 2014 3:12 PM

    last line made me feel like a gladiator, mad appropriate

    • Monq February 5th, 2014 1:07 AM

      Let us throw on our “White Hats”. (Sorry I couldn’t resist)


  • Anna F. February 3rd, 2014 3:13 PM

    Tavi, your editors letters have become little works of art. Feeling #blessed to exist on this earth at the same time as you & all rookies.

  • amescs February 3rd, 2014 3:24 PM

    that was a super inspiring editor’s letter that gave me some really good vibes AND all those points you wrote in your journal literally capture my exact thoughts about life

  • whatever February 3rd, 2014 3:36 PM

    so excited for this month <3 your editor letters make me so happy tavi ^_^ i will build my own throne slay in all of life's arenas.

  • peace.love.music.grows February 3rd, 2014 3:38 PM

    You are so inspiring! I have sent in one piece, but have more coming! xoxo

  • bookworm123 February 3rd, 2014 3:40 PM

    relentlessly on point and well-timed, tavi. I’ll leave some cookies out for you next time you come poking around in my brain because holy mind reader

  • o-girl February 3rd, 2014 3:46 PM

    thank you cutie! your own goals are obviously your own and i have different interests and goals and i know yours will change too, but your feelings here are all feelings I’ve had! thank you thank you

  • thefilmrookie February 3rd, 2014 3:47 PM

    Tavi, this is why I wrote about you being the person who has influenced me the most (other than a family member) for the personal essay of my Barnard summer program application. You’re the best and continue to inspire me everyday (that was cheesy)

    xoxo sarah


    • o-girl February 3rd, 2014 6:17 PM

      i will guide u around the city and show u my favorite places and places where i hide and (whoa so appropriate) escape and where 2 get ice cream.
      i actually applied to a columbia creative writing course for this summer too so we’ll be like right next to each other!! (this is olivia if u did not realize) (as in teenviolet)

      • thefilmrookie February 3rd, 2014 7:14 PM

        hahah hi babe text me and we’ll talk more (even tho u just did)

  • Halina Romaniszyn February 3rd, 2014 3:53 PM

    It’s incredible how you always manage to tap into the way I’m feeling. And articulate it so elegantly and eloquently. I’m struggling a little though because I’m still at the wanting to go hide in the woods stage!
    I can’t even begin to understand how you, with so much of the public watching you, can find the confidence to be creative, stand up for yourself and others and do what makes you happy: I am so far away from this, I can’t even see it.
    I just want you to know that you inspire me, even if I’m also slightly intimidated! Its so wonderful to have a real role model but so scary, too.
    I’m struggling to cope with the normal things, like school and homework I feel like I don’t have enough time to think about music or art or reading, enough time for enjoyment. I’m just stuck in this endless cycle where I work too hard at school and become introverted and push everyone and everything out. But you seem to keep so much going at once. I obviously can’t make any assumptions about how happy you are or any assumptions about you at all. But you see to keep so much going, so much more than what I have on, and I can’t even deal with the normal stuff.
    I’m sorry, it’s so unreasonable to project all of that on to you and I really have no concept of what your life is like or how you’re feeling or anything. I just needed to talk to someone, and this felt like a safe place to do that.
    Thank you Tavi and Rookie

  • Chloe22 February 3rd, 2014 4:05 PM

    Escape is such an excellent theme…How do you deal with, like, super un-escapable stuff, like school? I definitely value my education and know that if I want a good life outside of school, I need to focus on, yes, school. And, I find most of my classes really interesting, with books I enjoy (in literature at least). But I don’t get the best grades, and in my head I’m defined by my lack of super insane study skills. I try so hard, almost too hard, and then I get really unsavory results. I feel like I’ll never get the grades I want, no matter how many hours or weeks I do. And I’m not even trying to get on an honor roll! I just want some C’s and B’s (which I do get on weekly work and papers/essays, and sometimes A’s, but not so much on exams). I want to explore the world I live in, and just enjoy a good book for once!

    • farawayfaerie February 4th, 2014 9:49 AM

      I had this problem in high school as well, or at least it was similar. Basically I think that the schooling system often doesn’t appreciate people who do not function to the rules they make, and this can be very frustrating. I think one of the biggest things is not to let your grades define you. If you are truly working your hardest and you feel like you are putting in a lot of effort, then your marks are unimportant. It’s hard but let your affirmations come from yourself rather than your report card! Handing things in that you are proud of is always rewarding. If exams give you lots of stress don’t be shy to ask for help either. I got lessons on how to study (basically) and even that was pretty motivating. And then escape in your own time, to different worlds where no one can mark your success with a dumb symbol. wooohooo self help rant overs. xx

  • Jeanne February 3rd, 2014 4:29 PM

    Escape is such a good theme. I really want expand my vision a bit and get out of the confort zone I’m in right now. I want to learn new stuff that I’ve totally ignored up till now. Hope this month’s gonna be even better then last one!

    And there’s a new blog in town!


  • elliecp February 3rd, 2014 4:29 PM

    this is really helpful and super relevant. I started this year really pysched and ready to go, but now the usual ‘where am I going?’ ‘what am I doing?’ ‘who am i?’ questions are starting to resurface and as usual, I still have no answer for any of them. I like the idea of writing down my overall goals and really focusing on them….it’s not a bad thing to be self centered sometimes, as long as you are shaping yourself into a person that will benefit the people you spend time with.
    Thankyou Tavi


  • catw February 3rd, 2014 4:49 PM

    Wow, I love these letters.

    Your first bullet, particularly, “Climbing to the top of my own ladder. ” is something that will stay with me for a long time. That phrase gives a lot more focus on ownership and growth than traditional primers goal setting. Thanks!

  • Sophii February 3rd, 2014 4:49 PM

    I am so glad that this month’s theme is ‘Escape.’ I felt so trapped on Saturday night that I considered texting my friend in the middle of the night to ask if he wanted to sneak out and go on a walk to nowhere. Also, I have mock exams this week. The last one is 2 days away but I have 2 tomorrow and I should be working now because it’s already 10pm where I am. Anyway, this editor’s letter is as inspiring as always and once I have a bit of time when my mocks are over, I will definitely be writing all those bullet points down in my journal in pretty colours to reference to at different times in my life. Thank you <3 <3


  • mangointhesky February 3rd, 2014 5:06 PM

    Your letters are always perfection.


  • LaurenMichele February 3rd, 2014 5:23 PM

    This month’s theme makes me want to write about J.M. Barrie’s “Peter & Wendy” SO BADLY. For me, the story is very interested in ideas of escape, since Wendy escapes to Neverland as a way to avoid her father’s desire that she must grow up and become a woman. And of course Peter Pan too. But anyway, through reading it I came to learn a lot about how I can cope with my fear of leaving behind my “youth”, while still staying connected to it as I grow older. I find myself escaping into fairy tales and stories as a way to lead me into inspiration for my creative works. It is, in a way, a form of staying connected to my Forever…woah, that was another theme DANG THIS FITS WELL INTO MY LIFE.

  • Emily February 3rd, 2014 5:27 PM

    I think it would be really nice to see an article on here that healthily questions Beyonce; she is obviously a massive role model to loads of ladies and is a very prevalent idol on this site but this worries me slightly. I think she is amazing in loads of ways and I’m not trying to bring a strong lady down! No way! It just seems kind of extreme how much loads of rookie writers wholeheartedly see her place in modern day media and feminism as positive without a healthy dose of questioning it. Me and my sister felt kinda uncomfortable when we watched some of her new videos; especially the Yonce video. This is because I feel like, in a culture where most female pop and rnb artists are ALWAYS trying to out-sexy each other, Beyonce is complicit. Especially in videos like Yonce which just seemed a bit…well…pointless.

    Anyway, I’m not even really saying that she bothers me and I’m definitely not saying she should change. I respect her choices and its none of my business either! What I am saying is, for a site that is usually so opinionated in a variety of ways, why does it always seem to be a GIVEN that Beyonce’s words and actions are golden? Some of her videos offend me, man!

    Anywho, I love Rookie and I’ve followed the site since the beginning nd is this is the one thing that’s ever confused me!

    Lots of love, Emily from London xx

  • TessAnnesley February 3rd, 2014 5:50 PM

    I have SO MANY lists like that in my journals…

  • withhandscoveringmyeyes February 3rd, 2014 6:03 PM

    To Tavi and all the other Rookies: Thank you so much for this months theme. my sister and i lately have been in a pretty bad rut, and this sounds perfect to help us on the way to go on and live our lives happily. Again, thank you so much and have a great month.

  • Yun Xi February 3rd, 2014 6:04 PM

    This is an absolute godsend.

  • Chanel February 3rd, 2014 6:35 PM

    I love everything about this.

  • rhymeswithorange February 3rd, 2014 6:57 PM

    Great as always, Tavi. Your bullet points and self-help-ness remind me of David Foster Wallace (my favorite writer)- talking about the most important essential stuff HAS to use cliche! We have to be okay with that we are softies covered in goo who need to take care of ourselves <3

  • LenoraLikes February 3rd, 2014 7:39 PM

    This really resonated with me, Tavi. We are the same age, and lately I’ve been struggling to manage the stress in my life and hold onto things that are evolving and twisting out of my grip. Reading this is so reassuring and inspiring. Thank you so much for writing this, it is a beacon for many people who are getting caught up in the everyday.

  • Danielle February 3rd, 2014 8:03 PM

    Always on point, boss lady.

  • oldelectricity February 3rd, 2014 8:32 PM

    o tavi, what a great letter! what a great — and important — list, spirit, series of revelations, bravely told. and, seriously?! ach, you guys. these responses. SERIOUSLY THIS IS THE REVOLUTION; this feels real; this is the truth being told. i love this community so much! i don’t think i thought that anything like this would come together in my lifetime, but here we are, and i want to thank everything <3<3<3

  • umi February 3rd, 2014 9:05 PM

    rookie always seems to be really vibing with me as of late.you guys just get,man.
    that list sounds a lot like my journal thingy,too.im excited to see what febuary has in store!

  • love_soup February 3rd, 2014 9:26 PM

    tavi you are my idol

  • estie96 February 3rd, 2014 9:34 PM

    so grateful as to have discovered rookie these last couple of months. so grandly HAPPY to have stumbled on that lorde interview on twitter randomly a couple months ago. and then discovered rookie.
    i read it every day.
    rookie is so special, and tavi i just want to thank you. this magazine has helped me truly more than you realize. it’s become a creative outlet, a loving base, and more. the writers on this site are phenomenal and relatable. it’s making the next step of my life (college..!) seem not so terrifying, when there are people that get what goes on in my mind and in my life.

    thank you for existing. the rookie community is so lovely.

  • dollish February 3rd, 2014 10:49 PM

    so there’s still a chance to submit for this month? i’ve been holding shyly onto an idea, but with enough coffee, i might just be able to get it on ‘paper’

  • diana94 February 3rd, 2014 10:57 PM

    Tavi your’re such an inspiration for me, if it werent for this website i would have never encountered feminism the way i did and if it werent for feminism i would have never discovered my self-worth.

    i love your website i love what you have done for us! long live Tavi Gevinson! we need more people like you in this planet

  • RatioRae February 3rd, 2014 11:06 PM

    Thanks for making me feel like a queen, Tavi.


  • honorarygilmoregal February 3rd, 2014 11:15 PM

    You’re killing it with the editor’s letter as usual, Tavi.

    Yes, my fellow Rooks, let us slay in all of life’s arenas!

    • pizzaface February 4th, 2014 7:58 AM

      *This just put a giant smile on my face*

  • spudzine February 4th, 2014 12:23 AM

    Tavi, your editor’s letter this month was so spot on as to how I’m currently feeling. Also I think some of the topics Rookie will be exploring this month are very beneficial because a lot of us need help caring for ourselves and feeling safe and whole in situations that we do not feel safe and whole in(if that makes sense). Also, your self-care list is really inspiring, because the things that you care about are so in tune to yourself, and a lot of people don’t really know what they even want from life, so kudos to you for thinking about it! I hope things go great(as usual!) this month!


  • megggggggggghan February 4th, 2014 12:48 AM

    i love you

  • xoxololita February 4th, 2014 6:51 AM

    This whole thing is awesome, I am feeling the same way. You put it all so well. I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us. I just recieved yearbook2 and it’s AMAZING!<3

    thank you for constantly inspiring me!

    http://www.xoxololita.com / wildheartelectricsoul.com

  • pizzaface February 4th, 2014 7:57 AM

    Inspiring on a difficult level, but still, I always read your writing carefully, Tavi, because you always seem to be a bit (or a whole lot) farther on figuring out what I’m trying to figure out. So even if I don’t completely understand what you say at the moment or whenever I read you about life stuff, I will understand it later. And that feels awesome. You’re pulling me forward to discovering stuff.

    Woah this suddenly got really emotional. Anyways, I hope you get my point, and I hope you keep publishing personal stuff like this, because you are certainly helping others out. X

  • Joy February 4th, 2014 11:26 AM

    Ily so much Tavi, your way of putting together words is literally perfect <3

  • galaxia February 4th, 2014 12:07 PM

    Thank you for this Tavi.

  • Alienor February 4th, 2014 12:22 PM

    this is so good, i’m crying

  • gialouisa February 4th, 2014 1:48 PM

    I’ve been replacing the term “self-help” with “self-development”. I first heard the term “self-development” on a podcast called Entrepreneur on Fire! (super cheesy but super awesome) when they were interviewing the founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association, Carrie Green. Self -development is such a nicer term because self-help makes it seem like you’re in crisis and you need help when really you just need some guidance to re-center yourself.


  • Bianca February 4th, 2014 4:09 PM

    LOVE your “What do I care about?” list… it mirrors my own heart. Feeling extra thankful I get to be part of a coven of thoughtful, strong, talented, game-changing Rooks.

  • Mayi February 4th, 2014 5:36 PM

    I can relate on many levels. Thank you very much for this.

  • Monq February 5th, 2014 1:07 AM

    This month’s editor’s letter is just perfection. I can’t wait for this month’s theme, Rookie!


  • irregularvanilla February 5th, 2014 6:58 AM

    Dearest Tavi,

    Oh, dear, you don’t know how big of a connection that you have made with me through that self-help-y list of yours. The internet has been such a distraction for me to live my own life, and basically all the things that you have wrote on the list are words reflecting on the things that I think I should be doing now.


    I hope I’ll improve in writing.

    Virta (veer-tah) from the biggest archipelago in the world (Indonesia)


  • zoe.ijs February 5th, 2014 4:59 PM

    first of all, rookie is da bomb and this letter totally resonated with me and mad respect to you, tavi!
    i have a suggestion for an article about this theme……… dealing with an anxiety disorder (cause i have one)/other mental disorders and hooowww to let shit go/escape from one’s crazy overthinking brain so one can feel safe again. i’m suggesting it because i am still figuring it out and totally do not feel like i can give advice on the subject, but would love to read about it, rookie-style.
    anyway you’re fab and rookie is fab and keep at it! :))))

  • ohclemence February 5th, 2014 6:33 PM

    I needed to hear this today.
    You’re all amazing.

  • ellamay February 6th, 2014 7:32 AM

    Loved reading your letter, Tavi! You continue to inspire me.


  • nickynine February 6th, 2014 10:56 AM

    I love how you’re always acknowledging mindsets, beliefs, ideas, that no longer fit you, or you know longer agree with. And it’s something you do continuously! Like you focus on here, its important to not let go of yourself and your values and a lot of people don’t evaluate beliefs they have that aren’t agreeable anymore with themselves and are left unaware. Love this month’s letter!

  • Narnia February 7th, 2014 9:32 AM

    i feel like rookie is in-tune with my life.
    each one of tavi’s letters could be taken from my diary…or at least the themes…

  • Kiana Kimberly Flores February 8th, 2014 6:46 AM

    I am crying. I love the “What do I care about?” list. This is very heart-warming, Tavi. Thank you.
    I am proud of Rookie and the changes it has made (and is still continuing to make) in the lives of teenagers. I will forever be a Rook. :)

    P.S. Working my way into submitting a piece here! Yay.