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Editor’s Letter

April 2014: Lost and Found

The first-edition cover of Nicolas Bentley's How Can You Bear to Be Human? via Penguin.

The first-edition cover of Nicolas Bentley’s How Can You Bear to Be Human? via Penguin.

Happy April, Rookies!

This month’s theme is LOST AND FOUND. “Me time,” self-reflection, creativity. Rose sez, “Solitude can be a revolutionary act.” And Kanye sez, “I just needed time alone with my own thoughts / Got treasures in my mind but couldn’t open up my own vault.” And while I sometimes feel that we humans are all deeply connected, I more often agree with what Morrissey sed to us: that we are solitary creatures who LIVE AND DIE ALONE. I know it sounds awful, but except on particularly bad days, I don’t really find this bleak or depressing. I think it’s freeing to realize that you just have your own consciousness and that you can choose whatever you want to include your world. That you are your own best friend, and can even be your own role model.

Where it starts to get tricky is if you ever feel like your own enemy. You know how people have trouble with breakups because every little thing they see reminds them of their ex? I have often felt that way about myself, where I’ve been so UTTERLY SICK OF ME that even being in my own room is mortifying because it’s like ALL ME, EVERYWHERE. And I can’t turn to any of my usual favorite movies or books or any other safety-blanket tools because I’ve, like, copyrighted them as “central to my identity” or whatever. I can’t talk to my friends because they’re like, “Whelp, I can’t make you like yourself, but, you know…you’re not that bad,” and I’m like, “BUT YOU ONLY HAVE TO SEE ME DURING OUR LUNCH PERIOD; I HAVE TO LIVE WITH ME ALL THE TIME.” I haven’t known this feeling for a long time (whaddup @ getting older). I think it happens at the apex of puberty and is heightened when you fully realize for the first time that you have to spend every day of your life with yourself. Your mannerisms, your habits, your face, your ugly laugh. Every hour. Of every day. Just. Like. This:

I stopped feeling like such a burden on myself by letting go of my aspirations to be (and disappointment when I wasn’t) as miraculously confident as Beyoncé or Madonna. Instead, I turned to comedians who have a sense of humor about their own issues, and who use these subjects to access greater human truths and connect with people. See: Tig Notaro’s standup act about her mother dying, breaking up with her girlfriend, and being diagnosed with cancer, which is also a meditation on using comedy to deal with life’s biggest sads. I also started reading writers who choose to look outward and discuss the world, but also use their revelations about art and relationships to access deeper parts of themselves in a constructive, interesting way. See: Chris Kraus turning art criticism into a rumination on attraction, feminism, and her experiences with both.

All of this led me to do a lot of my own writing, some to share with people and some to keep just for me. After a day of observing others, returning to myself and marking my perspective on everything and everyone I’d seen, like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant, felt like keeping a terrific secret. I began to understand that even when you write about the world, you are writing about yourself, and that I could either get bashful and worry about seeming like a narcissist, or I could go with it in the hopes of learning more about who I am and how I might come to hate that person less. Somewhere in my blackened heart, I contained multitudes. I’d have to learn to love some and try to change others, but could no longer shut them down altogether with knee-jerk self-loathing.

Not everything I’ve written is good, but what’s important is giving myself that space to let my own complexities unfold, instead of just accepting my “I SUCK” impulses as fact the moment they kick in. Well-written or not, these thoughts were mine, and “mine” slowly stopped feeling watermarked with innate horribleness. Having to be alone, to be with myself, for a walk to school or for the rest of my life no longer filled me with dread and fear—it became an opportunity to experience the world in a different way, like re-watching a mind-blowing movie to try to actually understand it. Eventually, I loved being in my room alone, surrounded by everything that formed who I am, and I gained the Beyoncé/Madonna-levels of confidence that I feel today. (In an infomercial voice: “Thanks, solitude!”)

So, the next few weeks of Rookie are not necessarily about being all “I DON’T NEED YOU!” as much as they are about the tension between being yourself and being a part of the world. (They might be best read from a lighthouse, gazing out at the sea, pondering life’s vast possibilities.) Rookie reader Bethany was the first to urge us to do a kind of melancholy seaside theme, and she summarized most beautifully what it’s like to make peace with being alone: “Water does not have to drown you or to trap you; it can lead you to someplace better. The ocean kinda feels like a labored metaphor for the future: cruel, expansive, and unknowable. But it’s also awesome in a terrifying sort of way.”

Love,
Tavi

23 Comments

  • emseely April 1st, 2014 3:09 PM

    water is such a great theme, i’ve always adored its mysterious powers. did anyone else read that graphic novel series when they were like preteens, W.I.T.C.H? that’s what this is reminding me of. i was always the one with the water powers. wow that was a little embarrassing ok bye now

    • shin o April 1st, 2014 10:37 PM

      you mean you’re Irma. ;)
      i think i’m more like Hay Lin. (which is air)
      man Rookie should make an article.about w.i.t.c.h.! that comic is so underrated!

  • Bethany April 1st, 2014 3:12 PM

    SO much love for this!! And eee, I don’t think I’ve ever been quoted by anyone before! I feel so fancy!!:)

    xox

  • mangointhesky April 1st, 2014 4:12 PM

    This is so incredibly inspiring. I love the quotes in the beginning, from Rose and Kanye, and the little things you just added in between.
    I love how you said that though it sounds depressing, you die by yourself and live by yourself, and how you can be your own role model.

    http://theneonpapaya.blogspot.com

  • Chloe22 April 1st, 2014 4:15 PM

    Ugh…myself! Haha. I deal with that want to be somebody other than myself a lot… and I ridicule myself constantly about my likes and natural feelings (you like him? seriously? your such a mushy air head loser!). And I like to consider myself a creative person, but I also find myself fantasizing about being a different ”creative” person (oh, if only I were Edie Sedgwick…or Thierry Mugler…or Taylor Swift…). I guess I just have to be the first Chloe, and accept that yes, that can be awesome.
    http://criticallycouture.blogspot.com/

  • Sophii April 1st, 2014 4:39 PM

    I so relate to temporarily hating my bedroom because it’s so ‘me’ that it seems stupid sometimes and I hate myself for liking the silly things I like. (Luckily, most of the time my bedroom is my favourite place.) Ugh, I really wish I could actually spend the month gazing longingly out of the top of a lighthouse *sighz*. Also, Chloe ^^^ I think ‘if only I were Edie Sedgwick’ (before her drug dependency got out of hand etc.) approximately 50000 times a day

    http://prettypassionsfinefashions.blogspot.co.uk

  • SarahN April 1st, 2014 5:06 PM

    So, I haven’t written for a while. Which is probably why I feel like the whole world is sort of making me feel claustrophobic at the same time making me feel like a grain of sand on a beach (if that feeling is possible, it’s like Katy Perry asking if I feel like a plastic bag… God almighty!) And I think these feelings are a product of not writing anything down anymore. Seriously. Not even in my diary. I don’t even write to myself it’s gotten that bad! But THANK ALL THE ALMIGHTY HIGHER POWER/S that my friend introduced me to this website! This is the first item of pure genius scripture I have come across on this website and to tell the truth, I already feel at home! I just want to give a sincere thank you to everyone who is involved in this website. You’re all my heroes and thank you for picking me up when I felt like I was drowning in a world without water. Sorry for the rant, IT’S JUST SO GOOD TO WRITE! :) Chow! Saz x

  • gems April 1st, 2014 5:17 PM

    Love this, thank you tavi. Art is a celebration of life :)

    http://gemapradesanicolas.tumblr.com

  • WizerdGandalf April 1st, 2014 5:24 PM

    Haha, wat! When I saw the theme of the month was called Lost And Found, I had a completely different idea of what it was going to embrace in topics, like literally finding and losing things haha duh. Like random expeditions of life.
    But then Tavi starts talking ’bout solitude and living with yourself everyday, and then she says it’s about the ocean…. I’m so confuzzled hahaha.
    (I know if I make an effort and think, I will totally get it, but reacting to it with instinct at first glance lead me to such different visions.)

    • WizerdGandalf April 1st, 2014 5:34 PM

      I think the next article should be called ”Titles fo’ Dummies” , in my honour, ja? Yeah.
      Like this one could be idk, ”Water & Solitude”? The Ocean and The Selfie? Watta ‘n Lonelinezz?

      Holy moly, don’t listen to me please, I’m being purposefully dumb. Like I just needed to get that out of mah chest.

  • honorarygilmoregal April 1st, 2014 5:29 PM

    I have no words…great editor’s letter as always, Tavi.

    http://perkstobeinginfinite.tumblr.com

  • Mattie April 1st, 2014 6:51 PM

    I can absolutely relate to not wanting to be you. I’ve had so many moments where I wanted to be someone completely different. The song “Anything I’m Not” by Lenka is all about that. I listen to it when I feel bad about myself and eventually move into inspirational songs by Hilary Duff from my childhood, and I’m okay again. When I have those moments I always like to take a moment and just have gratitude for who I am, and the people, places and things I love the most. As a human being it’s so easy to get caught in a spiral of hating yourself and not giving yourself a break, but you honestly need to have at least a grain of respect and admiration for yourself because you’re actually alive. And wow, if you think about it, it’s like, crazy how alive we have the potential to be.

  • Sarah April 1st, 2014 7:28 PM

    I loved this editor letter, especially the quote at the end.<3

    I don't mean to be rude by asking this in the comments section, but I've just got a question and I wasn't sure where to ask it. I submitted a short story in December and I have not heard anything back. (I'm not trying to come across as angry or blaming you, I completely understand that you get loads of submissions and can't reply to them all). I was just wondering if I am allowed to submit that story to other publications if I haven't got a response. I read the submission terms and conditions but I'm just a bit confused.

    Thank you and I'm really sorry if this has come across as rude or demanding.

  • debster99 April 1st, 2014 8:30 PM

    this letter reminds me of how alone I usually feel I usually feel, marked now by the rainy weather I’m experiencing and my dad leaving me home alone . Listening to Christian music helps me deal with it, which reminds of this month’s theme, because my church is kinda big on community. Just sharing thoughts

  • Abby April 1st, 2014 9:08 PM

    “The ocean kinda feels like a labored metaphor for the future: cruel, expansive and unknowable. But also awesome in a terrifying sort of way.”

    THIS THO

  • Maradoll Mynx April 1st, 2014 9:16 PM

    Tavi…so inspirational. Beautiful start to my evening. Thanks :)

  • permateen April 1st, 2014 10:53 PM

    I can usually relate to Rookie posts but this one hit hard cuz the theme has been burdening me a lot of late. I agree with the water metaphor- only I don’t live near the sea, but my suburb is endlessly interesting and when it rains it’s like a flooding forest and it’s vast and beautiful makes me feel bigger and smaller than I really am.
    I love your editor’s letters, Tavi. School has made me miserable this month so my mum is picking me up before maths and I’m going to buy a new uniball on the way home and draw my FEELINZ 2 hopefully appease Rookiegodz.
    Love 4eva and always

  • ameliamad April 2nd, 2014 1:56 AM

    Really diggin these introspective vibes! :)

    That water quote was very deep (no pun intended)
    Being alone and creating your own thousghts and writing them out is always a great thing. I remember this one thing i read on tumblr about how you should create something everyday even though you aren’t good at it. And Aisha Tyler (shes too rad) always talks about how you have to fail haarshly before you can get to where you are comfortable.
    TRuer words have never been said Tavi! :)

    http://www.styleriottt.blogspot.com

    • April 8th, 2014 1:01 PM

      I love how blogging has gotten a whole generation writing. It is indeed very therapeutic and it is a space to call your own to celebrate your self, even if it is just digitally.

  • shesrachel April 2nd, 2014 12:09 PM

    pulled up my diary right away and quoted some paragraphs, why can’t i be you : tavi gevinson should be the appropriate title, sending so much loveee *heart emojis*

  • Tanweer April 3rd, 2014 12:34 PM

    I am really excited about this theme. I tend to spend a lot of time alone trying reconcile the contradictions within myself and I can sometimes get lost within myself or I constantly get frustrated at myself , because I am not able to get the answers to my questions or get to a point where I am happy with who I am and where I am able to be a part of the world as my best self so I often try to switch off by watching tv that doesn’t even mean anything to me . Recently though I have tried to have more restraint with my trivial tv watching and although I haven’t been finding all the answers and my social interactions are not quite where I want them to be I am actually moving forward.

  • isadora April 4th, 2014 8:31 PM

    Just today i read advice from Tarkovsky for the youth and he said:

    “This desire to be together in order to not feel alone is an unfortunate symptom, in my opinion. Every person needs to learn from childhood how to be spend time with oneself. That doesn’t mean he should be lonely, but that he shouldn’t grow bored with himself because people who grow bored in their own company seem to me in danger, from a self-esteem point of view.”

  • Anya N. April 5th, 2014 10:57 AM

    TAVI I LOVE YOU. I LOVE WHAT YOU HAVE CREATED AND HOW MUCH IT HELPS ME AND MY LIFE AND I FEEL SO HAPPY WHEN I READ ROOKIE ARTICLES AND NOT CONFUSED AND EVERYTHING IS OK WE ARE ALL OKAY