You Asked It

Just Wondering

What to do with a burning crush, an itch for independence, or a friend with a worrisome Tumblr.

I feel trapped in my own house. I spend most of my time alone in my room, rewatching Dazed and Confused and feeling jealous that my life is not like that. So my question is, how does a 16-year-old girl who doesn’t know a lot of people and doesn’t have a car get out of the house? How can I do stuff on my own so I can meet people and experience cool stuff? It’s my last high school summer, and I DEFINITELY want some independence (which I’ve never really had before). —Lily, 16, Los Angeles

High school was super underwhelming for me, and the fact that I obsessively watched teen movies from decades gone by didn’t make it feel much better. (Also, if it’s of any comfort to you, I just checked Wikipedia, and it turns out that mostly everyone in Dazed and Confused was over 20 when that film was made.)

I’m 20 now, and I can tell you that my life becomes increasingly more fun the farther I get from high school. You’re probably like, Yeah, no duh, thanks for enlightening me, Gabby. Stop rubbing your grown-up, cosmopolitan lifestyle in my face! But what I mean is that, even though high school mostly sucks right now, it’s because you’re ambitious and excited to be independent, and your current environment is not ready for that. Again, I’m probably just confirming what you know!

In the meantime, a cool way to meet people who share similar interests with you is finding a job or volunteering somewhere related to your interests. When I was 16, I got an apprenticeship at a textile museum in Philadelphia. I didn’t have a car (or even my license), but I was able to get there by walking to the train station after school a few days a week. (But if you need to bum a ride from your parents to get to work, they probably won’t mind, since you’re doing it in the name of HARD WORK.) I didn’t make a ton of friends at my job, but I learned a lot about textile art and, more important, how to travel by myself. Getting a job is great, because you get to be on your own and make some money! And there are few things that scratch your itch for independence better than being able to pay for things yourself.

If you have access to public transportation, take yourself on small outings to explore new areas or museums or to see a movie. If public transportation isn’t an option, again, beg your parents to drive you to shows and/or readings, this time in the name of CULTURE. If you can drag a friend along with you, even better. (As always, be careful when you’re hanging out alone in a public place. Read this piece for some guidance on that.)

There are, however, also ways to make the most of your surroundings while you’re stuck at home. Go for walks in your neighborhood and try to look at it in a new way. Write a whole bunch, or make weird art in the solitude of your room. Even though living away from my family is as fun as I ever could have hoped on all of those high school weekends when I was holed up at home, there are still times when I miss the quiet and comfort of creating things in my childhood bedroom. Relish that while you can! —Gabby

I have a friend who is severely depressed. She has even attempted suicide once. Luckily, she has a good group of friends who support her, and she’s getting professional help and support from her parents. However, she has been posting intensely personal details about her depression, her self-harm, and her suicidal thoughts on Tumblr. She posts a LOT. Even though I’m pretty sure she’s not in immediate danger, I don’t know what to do when I see these posts. I don’t want to minimize her pain by saying, like, “You’ll get through this” or whatever, but I don’t feel OK pretending it isn’t happening, either. What else can I do? —Izzy, 17, Sydney

First, some business: Despite your close friendship and your lovely big heart, you are not responsible for anyone else’s wellbeing. If you are actively concerned for your friend’s immediate wellbeing or if she is posting about current self-harm, make sure that your friend’s parents are aware of her Tumblr, so they can figure out the best course of action to take with the mental health professionals who are caring for her. Do not keep that information to yourself. That’s too much for any one friend to carry, so I am glad that your friend has a good support system.

In one sense, it’s good thing that your friend has decided to share her darkest thoughts in a place where you can read them, so you won’t have to speculate about what’s going on in her head and constantly check in with her. But, as you’re learning right now, it’s also challenging to know how to respond. I can’t speak for your friend, but my guess is that her posts are less about wanting a reaction and more about getting this stuff out of her head and somewhere concrete. For me, complicated, upsetting emotions always seem a little less scary when I can physically see them in front of me, in the form of art or disjointed sentences typed out on a screen. 

What is more important than your verbalized response to this girl is your willingness to be there for her while she struggles. “Being there for her” doesn’t mean that you always know the right things to say, or that you can make the pain go away. It just means that you are present. It sounds like your friend has been through a lot, and is still going through a lot, and she may very well feel like she’s going through it alone, despite her support system. Letting her know that you’re there, and that you care, is a real gift.

Because I’m a big believer in small gestures that represent something bigger, I would reach out to your friend and let her know that you’d like to develop a code that means “I’ve read this, I care about you, and if you need more than just my eyes on this, I’m here.” It could be that you text an emoji of a lollipop every time you see a post of hers. It could be that you leave a cryptic comment on each post that only she and you understand. Honestly, the more random, the better. Then, whenever you see a post that seems intense, you can easily let her know that you are a witness to her ongoing journey to emotional health without worrying that you’re saying the “right” or “wrong” thing. And, again, if ever her Tumblr seems to be suggesting she’s going to hurt herself, let someone know immediately.

Lots of love to both of you. —Emily ♦

If you have a question about, seriously, ANYTHING in your lifezone, and you’d like to see it answered in this here column, please send it to youaskedit@rookiemag.com. Please include your AGE, FIRST NAME/INITIAL/NICKNAME, and CITY.

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12 Comments

  • Emily June 3rd, 2014 11:40 PM

    I love Dazed and Confused it’s one of my favorite movies! I’m actually watching it right now bc it’s my last day of junior year, like it is in the movie.
    Also, I’m 16 and I have a car and honestly it’s not much more exciting with a car than without one. You can go places and do stuff but unless you’re super rich, you don’t really have the $$ to buy anything (even Starbucks–*cries*) because you’re using all of your allowance/paycheck/birthday money for gas. I read a lot of books before I had a car, and would do DIY crafts and make shrines when I was feeling bored or lonely.

  • sadie lidji June 4th, 2014 1:03 AM

    Cessily, I know just how you feel. that oscillation between “it’s just a crush lol!” and “this is ruining my everything” is the worst, and, at least for me, what really helped was not keeping it a secret. also, yeah the rejection is hard, but I know you’ll pull through. like a friend said to me: “a couple of months post-rejection, your natural instinct will not be to keep going after the one person who doesn’t want to get with you. it’s darwinism! it’s biology!” u can do this girl

  • Roohie June 4th, 2014 1:13 AM

    Cessily, I hope whatever you choose to do, you’ll have no regrets! For the first time, I confessed to my crush by messaging him (lame i know right) about my feeeeels while explicitly reassuring him that I wasn’t expecting anything happening between us. Turns out everything did feel better after i pressed the “enter” button; he got a confidence boost that a girl other than his girlfriend has feels for him while I can finally move on without wondering “what if..”. (: You can do it!
    LILY ARE YOU ME BECAUSE I FEEL YO PAIN. I’m on summer vacation right now and I can’t stand staying at home. When my parents are home, I ask them to take me to the local library. Books? People who actually enjoy reading books in their spare time? Yesss. If you wanna meet new ppl, try exchanging letters with a pen pal, there are lots of reliable sites that have people from around the world just as eager to learn about another culture and to be friendly with you. If your parents are like mine and are very cautious of letting you out of the house, start with baby steps and let them know that their capable of taking care of yourself while still having fun.

  • Flossy Mae June 4th, 2014 7:09 AM

    Cessily, I was pretty much in your exact same situation! I told him, with a 100% chance of rejection, and it was actually one of the best desicions I’ve made because now if I’m ever freaking out about a boy – who doesn’t come with a 100% chance of rejection! – I’m super confident about telling him because the worst possible outcome has already happened! So if you tell this guy, sure it’ll be awfully horrible for a while, but next time you wanna tell your crush how you feel you’ll find it all so much easier :) xx

  • sarahsky June 4th, 2014 8:37 AM

    Hey! Great! What about the girlfriend? Don’t hurt her feelings or make her feel it’s a competition. Really. Friends are better than boys anyway.

  • RatioRae June 4th, 2014 9:43 AM

    Amy Rose, that was the best advice I’ve ever read.

    http://thegirlwhodrankstars.blogspot.com

  • darksideoftherainbow June 4th, 2014 12:32 PM

    oh, cessily. i’m in the same boat as you except i just turned 27 (yesterday!) and the boy i have a crush on is my co-worker. we’re about the same age and watch the same shows and have great conversations that flow really easily aaaaaand…he has a girlfriend. i’m not going to tell him how i feel bc that would make me feel very awkward when i see him at work, but it’s super easy for me to feel awkward. i have told boys that i like them before, tho! it’s nice to get closure. i totally agree with everything amy rose said. i hope you do whatever feels right to you! i will continue to dream of my own super cute crush and keep trying to act normal when we talk instead of getting all googly-eyed haha :)

  • goodgodlemon June 4th, 2014 12:43 PM

    Lily: I also recommend getting a job! A lot of people put stress on getting a super cool job, but I worked crappy positions in restaurants all through high school and I loved it. I wasn’t really into the ~high school party scene~ or whatever, so it gave me something else to do, and I got to meet and hang out with new people who were a little older than me and acted as mentors. It will also give you some experience and resume fodder for when you need a job in the future.

  • beyoncetears June 5th, 2014 12:43 AM

    CESSTAURANT!!!! CESSTAURANT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    AMY ROSE YOU ARE MY HERO EVERYDAY I FALL DEEPER IN LOVE WITH YOU

  • sockmyshoe June 5th, 2014 2:07 PM

    Cessily – I know just how you feel! I’ve crushed out HARD, and keeping it bottled up inside can feel immense. I’ve often told my crushes in the past – with mixed results – and I’ve usually felt better for it.
    However, I want to give you some advice from the point of ‘the girlfriend’. I’m in a long term relationship (5 years), and my boyfriend plays in a band. Recently, one of his bandmates confessed she has a big crush on him, and they drunkenly kissed. Not cool! This made my boyf very confused and things got awkward – he was confused about his feelings as he really likes her as a friend, he felt guilty, and it became weird at their band practices. He feels unnecessarily guilty for the times they partied until the wee hours with the band, and as they still have to tour together, it’s pretty awks. As for me, I felt betrayed by her (she knows me, and knows we’re in a monogamous relationship), and it makes it hard for my to trust my boyfriend when they have band hangouts – such a shame, as it was totally cool before. It basically became a lot of heartache for all of us.
    My advice is this, and I’m sorry if it sounds harsh. If he’s single/open/available: tell him! Go for it,girl! Why not! If he has a girlfriend: leave it. It’s not your business. Write in your journal, listen to specially made playlists, make cheesy artwork about him (all tried-and-tested crushing methods of mine ;). But leave it for what it is: a fantasy.

  • flaminhottamale420 June 5th, 2014 10:36 PM

    OMG GABBY

    as i read this i FREAKED out bc i am doing the SAME apprenticeship this summer!!!!!!! today was my second day! and you’re one of my fave writers on rookie so hearing that i’m following in your footsteps was crazy!

  • emlyb June 11th, 2014 12:24 PM

    LILY WHAT ARE YOU HAVE YOU READ MY MIND?!?! i literally could of written exactly that. omg. you’re not alone and I FEEL YOU! love ya

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