Everything else

Editor’s Letter

July 2014: The Great Unknown

Tiny, Mary Ellen Mark, 1983.

Erin “Tiny” Blackwell photographed by Mary Ellen Mark, 1983, via the documentary Streetwise.

Dear Rookies,

Before we introduce this month, allow me to introduce Rookie Yearbook Three, our third print compilation, bringing you the best of our content from the website’s junior year in tangible form!


In addition to your favorite articles and photos, now 100 percent cuddle-able, we also have some truly wonderful new stuff that you won’t find on our site, including interviews with and contributions from the likes of Tina Belcher, the Broad City babes, Dakota and Elle Fanning, Grimes, Kelis, Lorde, Shailene Woodley, and Sia. A few more super-special print-only extras: stickers, a crossword puzzle, valentines, and a Rookie pennant that DOUBLES AS A SLICE OF PIZZA.

It comes out on October 21, when you’ll be able to buy it in our shop, on our publisher’s site, and in bookstores of all kinds. I am 50 shades of ecstatic about how it’s turned out, all the wonderful contributions that went into it, and getting to share it for real so soon.

Now for regular site biz: July’s theme is THE GREAT UNKNOWN. I’m writing this on my first day in my first apartment, where I am living alone for the first time. These two facts are related, despite my usual attempts to not build these themes too much around my own life circumstances. This is what I sent our staff a month ago to get our brains churning:

By the end of high school I felt that so much had come full circle—that I’d been able to check off so many of the Teen Fantasies™ I’d been hoping for, that I had archived/documented/crystallized so many parts of my adolescence through my diary-keeping and through Rookie, that I had lived these years as fully as possible.

Then my S.O. and I broke up, and I graduated, and now I just feel like, overwhelmed by not knowing who I am now or what my Identity is or what my Core Me–tools are to come back to when I feel sad. Going back to what used to be myself just pulls me into a lot of painfully bittersweet memories, so I’ve been talking less and drifting more and actively testing a theory that reincarnation can happen to live bodies by trying to turn myself into a blank slate. It leaves me both terrified that I could become an actual monster, as well as thrilled that I could become the exact person I ought to be, WE CAN BE HEROES Bowie-style. June/Action was a month of good, colorful fun, but July/The Great Unknown is black and white in anticipation.

I don’t think this is an issue exclusive to having graduated and being my age, exactly. I had a series of these moments during high school, too. The most horrifying thing was realizing, during early junior year, that I would have to be stuck with myself for years, and that you have to live with your own brain, and I felt like I had no surprises left in me (like, I felt OLD for the first time, but also mortifyingly young) and like it was becoming less and less fun to find myself, because myself suckkkked and what I’d needed was an opportunity to become someone new, and I think I did, but that person was largely attached to this other person, and so now I feel like a weird fetus again.

And it is actually really wonderful.

Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones. “Cactus Tree” by Joni Mitchell. “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan. “Time Will Tell” by Blood Orange. “Still Sane” by Lorde, and how perfectly it captures the moment before you know everything is about to change. The delightful few seconds in “Hannah Hunt” by Vampire Weekend when the sound implodes and blooms and the singing becomes screaming.

I made this month’s moodboards backstage on break at rehearsal, in costume for the play I’m doing, This Is Our Youth, which is about three young people living in New York City in 1982. I love it because it’s such an unglamorous depiction of youth, and of all the horror that having your whole life ahead of you can bring. Like, the characters all have these realizations and belief systems that they delusionally think are brilliant and original, and it’s both pathetic and sweet. I loved going through the thousands of photos I keep for making these monthly moodboards and picking out ones that I felt my gal would gravitate towards. Unlike the guys in the play, she has somewhat of a trajectory for a future with school/a career, but she’s also incredibly socially inept and unsure of herself and overwhelmed by the very basics of being alive.

That is something I’ve related to so deeply lately. Not feeling in my body. Not knowing how to talk to people now that I’m no longer an enchantingly eloquent kid, but just another adult. It’s ultimately so much nicer to be spoken to as an equal, but it also makes me mumble more. It reminds me of a lyric my BFF Claire and I wrote sophomore year when we had a band for a minute: “You were so proud, with so much to say / How does it feel to just run away?”

From an interview with the playwright (I know this seems like a huge plug for this production but man, if this is not all so relevant):

How do you feel the disillusionment of that generation relates to what the kids are experiencing?

Well, they are stepping into a world where there is no longer a place for their particular philosophy. They’re full of opinions and beliefs and ideas, but at that very instant, their team—so to speak—has been not just beaten, but totally dismantled—so they don’t quite know what to do with themselves. And of course their family situations are not especially stable. So they find themselves struggling to break free from their families without necessarily rejecting the ideas their families gave them. Which leaves them in kind of an odd spot.

And some Joan Didion:

I lost the conviction that lights would always turn green for me, the pleasant certainty that those rather passive virtues which had won me approval as a child automatically guaranteed me not only Phi Beta Kappa keys but happiness, honor, and the love of a good man; lost a certain touching faith in the totem power of good manners, clean hair, and a proven competence on the Stanford-Binet scale. To such doubtful amulets had my self-respect been pinned, and I faced myself that day with the non-plused apprehension of someone who has come across a vampire and has no crucifix at hand.


Here’s a picture I took in the Chelsea Hotel the summer before Rookie started. I was in NYC, and Anaheed and I were having our very first meetings and I just wanted a photo of the patch on my jacket, but I now find this shitty photo very sweet. Rookie was just about to HAPPEN!

That was the summer when I started to notice the fraying edges in my and my friends’ families, and other things that are sad and painful. I saw it all as snowballing and thought it was the apocalypse, until I realized that a lot of life is sad and painful, I just hadn’t seen it before. Adolescence is series of realizations that everything is so much more layered than you thought, and often so much darker. And, as our pal Lesley Arfin recently told me in re: heartbreak, actual growing up only ever really happens during these tough periods of your life; the happy stuff is just meant to keep you going until the hard stuff comes along and actually makes you stronger, more yourself, more complete. I think there’s a way to learn from the good stuff too, but I also know that when Lesley said that, it was pretty much the only thing that made sense to me at that moment.

Notes from Anaheed:

“Remember this thing that Neil deGrasse Tyson told Hazel back in 2012?

So many people only want answers. To be a scientist you have to learn to love the questions. You’ll learn that some of the greatest mysteries of the universe remain unanswered, and that’s the fun part. That’s the part that gets you awake in the morning and running to the office, because there’s a problem awaiting your attention that you might just solve that day. You have to embrace the unknown and embrace your own ignorance.

I hate it when people who believe in God or a “higher power” think atheists are dumb for “believing in science” because science still “can’t explain everything.” I mean, what could be more wonderful than that? Wouldn’t life be boring if everything were known to us?

In a weird way, NdGT’s quote there reminds me of this gorgeous thing from the wedding scene in the movie Frida. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s friend Tina Modotti, in her toast to the couple, says:

I don’t believe in marriage. No, I really don’t. Let me be clear about that. I think at worst it’s a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise of tradition and conservative religious nonsense. At best, it’s a happy delusion—these two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they’re about to make each other. But when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional. I think it’s radical and courageous and very romantic. To Diego and Frida.

I love how NdGT’s thoughts about science are as romantic as Tina Modotti’s thoughts about marriage, and how they both have this faith in the beauty of diving into the unknown—it’s a reason to wake up in the morning, a reason to have hope, and a reason to love someone. I mean maybe I’m going way overboard here, but that all makes me pretty swoony.

The Great Unknown is scary: It’s the bottom of the ocean, the far reaches of the universe, what will happen to us in 10, 20, 30 years, and (the ultimate unknown, I suppose) what happens to us after we die. But it’s also pretty wonderful, because it’s where hope lives, and where stories start. it’s a place that exists only in our imaginations, which makes it more OURS than any place we’ve ever lived. And that means everyone’s unknown is a little different.”

Then there’s this comment that Rookie reader “M” left on my June editor’s letter:

Ho lee shit. I’ve been having this thought a lot lately: “What if I tried my hardest with everything in my power to do the things I really want to do?” It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I’m not already trying my hardest, and also that this simple thought has only recently popped into my head. Every time I think this thought, I start to feel nervous with excitement, though.

M is talking about June’s theme, of course, but I think they tap into the exact exhilarating feeling that makes the Great Unknown truly wonderful, even if you can’t stand unanswered questions. The anticipation of your newest incarnation alone is true excitement under all those nerves, and this moment is worth basking in all on its own. Looking out my window at my new view, I am immensely comforted by the neutrality of every building, like the world is just waiting for us to color it in.




  • Chloe22 July 1st, 2014 3:17 PM

    Count on me to not at all understand another one of Tavi’s beautiful and thoughtful writing pieces and only feel jealously for having been to the Chelsea Hotel. I need help :P

  • Lunestra July 1st, 2014 3:24 PM

    I can’t wait for pizza pennant! I pre-ordered in freaking MAY because I’m sad and don’t really have a life.

  • Lunestra July 1st, 2014 3:27 PM

    Oh and Tavi, can’t wait to see how you decorate your apartment, oh eek

  • kimchi July 1st, 2014 3:53 PM

    It is crazy to think about you living on your own now. Some parts of living alone can be really shitty, but it becomes the greatest thing in the world. Living alone is so liberating. I know that I wouldn’t have pursued half the things I did if I was still living at home. Knowing how great the transition to living alone has been for me makes me really excited about what living alone will be like for you. Even though you said you don’t want to tailor the monthly themes to your own circumstances, I like when your own circumstances do align with the themes. I feel like the unknown is something we all encounter at some point. It feels good to know that we aren’t alone in facing the unknown, and it feels good to know that in fact the people we admire encounter the same things too.


  • kingofcarrotflowers July 1st, 2014 3:58 PM

    This is super relevant to this end-of-adolescence time… I was talking to my little sister the other day about a university open day I’d just been to, and we both suddenly realised that pretty soon we won’t be living with each other as we have done since she was born, and it was kind of terrifying. But also, who WILL i be living with? who will i meet? where will i be living? It’s crazy exciting.

    Also sometimes I worry about how much I haven’t read, or the many things I have yet to do, but recently I realised it’s actually exciting to have things left that I’ve never done before, books left that I can discover for the first time – and there are enough first times to last me my entire life.

  • amescs July 1st, 2014 4:00 PM

    Each Editor’s Letter really resonates with me and makes me aware of something that I have been experiencing but almost too deeply; too deep that I haven’t really been able to process or register it.

    They always make me emotional and more often than not I sob my little heart out after reading. Thank you Tavi for always getting it, and to the whole team of wonderful writers and contributors who make this site one of the best on the WWW.

  • avocados July 1st, 2014 4:07 PM

    I feel like as you get older, there’s an inverse relationship between the amount of milestones reached and the amount of things unknown… For each milestone you pass, the amount of unknowns becomes larger and more daunting. Soon enough, you reach all the prescribed milestones of adolescence and then you are hurled into this massive vortex of the unknown. For example, before getting my driver’s license a few months ago, all I could think about was how awesome it will be to drive. Now that I have said license, I feel so weird and disappointed that an an important milestone of adolescence/high school/life etc. has passed me by. Shouldn’t I be ecstatic or something? Is there less to look forward to, or just more that you don’t know?

    Damn, these posts never fail to get me thinking hard. I’m gonna go eat some tortilla chips

  • Lorelei July 1st, 2014 4:08 PM

    This made me feel a little better. Less than an hour ago my boss called and told me she’s closing the business, so my job is over. Like it’s gone after today. So i’m sitting here until my shift ends just drowning in uncertainty.

    • Amy Rose July 1st, 2014 4:15 PM

      Oh, babe, I’m sorry to hear it. Heart bomb.

  • spudzine July 1st, 2014 4:13 PM

    Eeek I had no idea it was that time of year for another Rookie yearbook!! It makes me wonfer how time has flown by so fast. I’m also really excited for the Tina Belcher content in the book, as I am watching Bob’s Burgers right now and I love that girl. Also I totally understand this month’s theme. This is my last high schook summer, as next summer will be the summer before college, and I’ve been thinking about the big, dark and scary future and how I know nothing about it, which scares me. But I’ve learned that it’s better to embrace uncertainty than to push it away!


  • Malu July 1st, 2014 4:21 PM

    SO excited for rookie yearbook 3!! All my favourite people!

  • heartgiant July 1st, 2014 4:37 PM

    Sometimes I think it’s really funny how Rookie’s monthly themes fit into certain periods of my life, like right now I’ve finished highschool and I won’t be going to college until next year, so I have a lot of time to do stuff? Things? And everyone around me seem to have their lives figured out to the best of their abilities and there’s so much I want to do but I don’t know where to start and the world is a scary place!!!! But all the possibilites and possible outcomes are also exciting and I’m trying to be ok with everything.

  • lutimes2 July 1st, 2014 4:56 PM

    I don’t know if this makes sense, but it’s like Lana Del Rey’s song Is This Happiness. Like the feeling when you’ve done everything and you’re wondering if this is how it’s supposed to feel. Not knowing if its really happiness, but not feeling sad either. Like so full of wonder for everything, but you just want to do everything right. I don’t know. (you as in the general you)

  • thebrownette July 1st, 2014 5:15 PM

    Every once in a while, I drift away from Rookie for a few weeks. This has been happening once or twice a year since its inception.

    Then, I come back, and Tavi and the gang are always there with an article that feels startlingly of the moment for me.

    Maybe it’s because we’re the same age. Maybe not.

    But it always feels like coming home after a long day to a group of people who understand you deeply. T

    Thanks, Tavi.

    I’ll been keeping up through the next four years as I start college this fall and figure out what I want to study.

  • hubbabubba July 1st, 2014 5:34 PM

    Ruby Tuesday and Like a Rolling Stone are my two favourite songs :D I feel like all rookies are my kindred spirits x

  • vosnano69 July 1st, 2014 5:41 PM

    I love you and I can’t explain how human you make me feel

  • emily21 July 1st, 2014 5:42 PM

    tavi, you have an almost Plath-ian insight into the waves of your inner-self….like….. you can feel them into distinction enough not to fully understand them (i mean, can we ever?) but when most of us are SO overwhelmed with the mere complexity of the masses of stuff we’re always feeling that we don’t even know what to DO with ourselves, you’re able to USE that prodigious awareness you have to lay it out in writing. you do it often with no lack of poignancy, continually without claiming to have ANY IDEA what the answers are, and yet you always communicate near-brilliant relatable wisdom that makes me EXCITED for all the questions life constantly poses, rather than fearful. (if that makes ANY sense??) you’re able to tie together the constant craziness that is life-happenings and the flux of personal feelings that gets rid of, even for just a short time, that cloud of loneliness over my head that always feels just a bit smarter and quicker than me in combating it. THANKS TAVI, for writing us in the style of pure-inspiration, each month.

  • tummy94 July 1st, 2014 6:34 PM

    I hope Tavi moving to New York means a more realistic depiction of the city. I love all the ~Glitz n’ Glamour~ but I know the city is an extremely difficult place to live and work. I hope this leads to a more critical look at the Big Apple.

    • mangointhesky July 1st, 2014 7:54 PM

      I know this is SO random, but two New Yorkers I know usually refer to the Big Apple as the giant Apple apple (you know, the brand’s symbol) that is in the middle of this square. SO random, sorry- it just reminded me of it!!

  • janevtiamat July 1st, 2014 6:37 PM

    Thank you! I have been struggling with whether or not to stay in college to be a successful writer. This helps. Congratulations graduating!


  • Valeska July 1st, 2014 6:38 PM

    Guys I am graduating tomorrow. And my ID now says that I am an adult. I choose this moment to officially thank you all, Tavi, all the Rookie-Staff, all the great guests and last but not least: the community. It has been what feels like a century and we all have changed a lot. But still, every time I come back to Rookie I simply feel understood. And for that I am so thankful! Rookie has helped me a lot whilst growing up.
    I am excited for this months theme because I AM SOOO SCARRRRED OF THE FUTURE!
    Good night! :)

  • flingsgotoofast July 1st, 2014 6:48 PM

    i love reading every single thing on rookie, no matter the subject or who wrote the article, i love them all. i hope that one day i will be able to write for a blog or magazine like rookie and inspire all of the girls you guys inspire every day! i loved reading this, just like every other editors letter. thank you so much for being the incredible people that all of you are!!
    xo sam


  • itsrebeccam July 1st, 2014 7:10 PM

    Every editor’s letter reminds me that I am not alone in my feelings or opinions and that there are people who genuinely understand. I don’t know what I would be doing without Rookie, God Bless Tavi and Crew!

  • LaurenMichele July 1st, 2014 7:11 PM

    Tavi, you mentioned mood boards in this letter and I think it would be really great if you showed those in your letter to accompany what you write! Having a visual would be really interesting and I would totally print it out and stick it on my wall to get me into the Rookie theme-zone. I totally I understand if you would rather keep them to yourself, however!
    Lauren xx

  • megggggggggghan July 1st, 2014 7:25 PM

    This was really great to read. I just graduated college and am transitioning into having a full time job and being a “real adult” and it’s fuckin scary.

  • Julia Harrison July 1st, 2014 7:28 PM

    the scariest part of The Great Unknown to me is how much i feel i know of it? if that makes sense? i am hopelessly terrified that The Great Unknown will present itself in the form of suburbia and kia minivans and accidental kids who i will call “blessings” through my teeth while a million other adjectives burn my tongue

  • ilikepie July 1st, 2014 7:48 PM

    I like pie.

  • mangointhesky July 1st, 2014 7:49 PM

    The last sentence should be the definition of the word “life”.
    This was so perfect, I don’t know what to say.


  • chameleon22 July 1st, 2014 7:49 PM

    wow, I don’t know if anyone will ever read this but this letter could NOT have come at a more perfect time. I’m about to step into my own great unknown. and life, emotions, and the human condition are especially terrifying to me now. But I just have to say thank you again, Rookie, for reminding me of how gorgeous life can be too. I am ready for what’s next!!

  • gvantsa-goes-by-wendy July 1st, 2014 8:00 PM

    Hi, I’ve been reading Rookie for like 7 months but just registered now to post my FIRST ever comment. I have just graduated too and these 4 days ’til Friday are like the most uncertain ones I’ve had in my entire life: I don’t know where and with whom I’ll be living next year, what I’ll be studying, if I have my diploma etc. I’ve been away from home for almost a year and have been struggling with a lot of negativity in my head throughout all the 10 months, so it was quite tough. I feel so lost/hopeless but excited for the future at the same time. The last 2 days have been relatively productive and fun and when I read this letter, it sort of inspired me and got me all motivated to do many great things as soon as I wake up tomorrow, to finally take my life in my hands and embrace this great unknown. So I didn’t want this inspiration to go undepicted, but didn’t want to write in my virtual diary anymore, coz sometimes it’s so much better to share your inspiration with people like you. Plus someone wrote that she loved those songs Tavi talked about and feels like everyone on Rookie is her soulmate and that’s actually what made me wanna comment the most: I love those songs so much too, especially “Hannah Hunt”,coz I just discovered it not so long ago and I listen to it very often these days and that moment Tavi described is my favourite in it. So I got all emotional and wrote this and I hope at least 1 person will read :)

    • Amy Rose July 1st, 2014 8:01 PM

      Big love to you, heart critter.

  • liv w July 1st, 2014 8:42 PM

    AH! The last month was so spot on to my ~*emotions*~ at the time and this letter articulates the mumbly jumbly feelings i’ve had for a week or so now. Can’t wait for the month ahead. Congrats on Yearbook Three and living on your own, Tavi! I’m sure the apartment looks so rad.

  • lydiafoshydia July 1st, 2014 8:45 PM

    I am so jealous of people like you who have certainty in their uncertainties….like you know it and are comfortable enough to embrace it. Meanwhile, I feel like I can’t and shouldn’t be allowed to embrace my fears of the unknown, because I probably deserve it for never trying to get out of my comfort zone and stuff. Rookie, which I’ve unfortunately only discovered in my senior year, showed me all the fun things that teenagers could do. I was stuck in the bland suburbs viewing through my laptop screen how youth could’ve and should’ve been lived out. I’m too quick to accept things as they are, and so I thought stable monotony was something to be grateful for. Actually, I think it was actually not bad that I did not whine to my parents all the time about how boring my life was because I love my family, and stability in family life is something many do not have and I should rightfully be grateful for it…but what I’m saying is, it prevented me from getting out of myself and doing things that would bring me pain, euphoria, all these extreme feelings that I’ve never felt in my life.
    The only “risky” thing I’ve done is choose to go to a college 8 hours away from home. I did this to force myself to not be such a fickle baby for once. I’m extremely afraid because I’m too scared/lazy to get out of the house by myself to do things by myself..but this will hopefully bring something new out of me.
    Thanks Tavi again for such a mostly-relatable letter that made me actually self-reflect and such!!!

  • Areeba July 1st, 2014 9:21 PM

    Tavi you’re such an inspiration for me! Whenever I feel lost, I come to Rookie where you and the girls make me feel ME! I can’t wait for the 3rd yearbook edition!


  • amelia3 July 1st, 2014 9:32 PM

    “Not knowing how to talk to people now that I’m no longer an enchantingly eloquent kid, but just another adult. And it’s ultimately so much nicer to be spoken to as an equal, but it also makes me mumble more.” THIS IS EXACTLY HOW I’VE BEEN FEELING

  • lydiafoshydia July 1st, 2014 9:37 PM

    Aughh sorry for commenting too much but this post really got me all blabbery in my mind and I just want to let it out….

    But for our last assignment in our last high school English class ever, we had to make a graduation speech in front of the class.

    This one girl, who used to seem very bubbly and sometimes airheaded at times, made a very emotional (I’m bad with words…it was more than just that but idk how to sum it up sorry) speech on the spot, about how she never had painful experiences like everyone else, and how she felt like she wasn’t experiencing enough and thus wasn’t growing up. She cried through this and threw F-bombs with it and it was so strong and vulnerable at the same time… and totally an “Amen” moment for me…

    This taught me:
    2. Even people who feel like they don’t deserve to be struggling struggle, like me and her. So we don’t have to feel alone and be ashamed of it, because whether we know it or not, we’re all in this together

    i’m happy to have heard her talk but sad that i was still intimidated by her (she was a kind of a cool kid lol) to tell her that i totally related

    • Maddy July 8th, 2014 11:43 PM

      I really like this comment :) Thanks for sharing

  • maureenandstuff July 1st, 2014 10:59 PM

    “I lost the conviction that the lights would always turn green for me” This sums up my feels on growing up in such a beautiful way.
    that being said…IM CALLING A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS BACKGROUND RIGHT NOW. unless it has already(probably)been used.. in which case, please ignore me.

  • Zoe July 1st, 2014 11:20 PM

    This is the only thing i have read in the past few months that makes me feel marginally better about my recent breakup with a boy who I am still so much in love with. Thank you, Tavi, for helping me to be able to feel a little bit more okay about existing in this scary yet wonderful universe that is so full of scary yet wonderful disappointments and opportunities.

  • honorarygilmoregal July 2nd, 2014 12:22 AM

    Another brilliant editor’s letter from Tavi. I finished my first year of college two months ago, and this makes me think of how, before I actually set foot on campus, college was this big and scary and unknown experience for me. I got through the year okay, but I’m curious as to what the next three years will bring. I’m learning to expect the unexpected!

  • catharinerf July 2nd, 2014 12:38 AM

    ugh this is so great it’s like the epilogue to the Forever letter, which also lined up with my interior life in a creepily timely manner. Lately I’m excited that there’s so much I still don’t know because it means I’m not done yet, in terms of being a person and what not.
    Thanks for mentioning vampire weekend i love them.


  • Mer July 2nd, 2014 1:24 AM

    This came to me at the perfect moment. I leave for a service trip in India in 3 days and I am scared of this “great unknown”. But really I think I am just afraid of what is to come after. I have this one unknown land but then I have the great unknown of college. All of the things I have been feeling for the last few months have been hard to comprehend and fully understand because there are so many different feelings- nostalgia, anxiety, excitement, boredom, sad, hopeless. But then I read things like this that tie together all of these different feelings and make me feel a little bit less anxious. All I know is that I don’t know. I just know that there is a series of great unknowns ahead of me and I only have myself to discover them with.

  • clairedh July 2nd, 2014 1:30 AM

    *throws arms open* Kiss me Tavi! *Tries to gather all Rookies in virtual arms*

    Ok, ok, too dramatic… but I’m so excited to check out the Yearbook and it looks likes it’s not just me taking solace in Joan Didion’s work ;)

  • sfuschia13 July 2nd, 2014 1:46 AM

    Hi Tavi!!!! I just wanted to say that I have been a HUGE fan ever since you first started the style rookie blog! and I SO relate to this on SO many levels, mostly because I feel like i have been your friend, and since we are the same exact age/grade, I feel as if we are experiencing everything together. But also when I compare myself to you I get sad bc of how successful u are but that’s besides the point..

    anyways I absolutely love this post and the point about adolescence being a series of realizations. sort of like that period of limbo in between where I knew that YES santa claus was not real but no adult figure had ever really confirmed it yet. Anyways, bad comparisons aside…
    thank you for EXISTING! I feel as if I have a perpetual ally in life as long as rookie/YOU exist. thx

  • eesmee July 2nd, 2014 6:17 AM

    There couldn’t be a more appropriate time in my life other than now to explore/overcome my fear of The Great Unknown – moving out, new people, new places… I’m ready

  • melissay July 2nd, 2014 8:26 AM

    I’m so incredibly happy we’re the same age!
    Sure, having someone older to look up to is great too because then you know you’ll be fine in the future and everything will get better and so on, but to actually have someone you look up to going through the exact same thing you are at the exact same time and then writing about how they’re feeling and handling it is beyond helpful! Its fucking amazing! I Love you and I always will<3 *wipes away tears and snot*

  • gvantsa-goes-by-wendy July 2nd, 2014 8:50 AM

    also, forgot to write yesterday: guys, if you haven’t, go listen to Arctic Monkeys’ cover of Dion’s “Only You Know”, I have just listened to it properly like 2 days ago and it makes me feel so many things and I realized yseterday that the lyrics are quite relevant to this letter and the whole theme in general. The idea itself: “only you know”, it’s like Tavi said about becoming a different person and being alone with your mind, and when you change, only you know what that change was worth and the way you’ve been before and no matter what, it’s always only us who know the total truth about ourselves and even if it’s weighing down on us quite often,at other times it’s quite empowering.And the fact that there is potentially someone willing to admit and accept it and even consider it as a good thing, at least one person willing to share those “better things” with you is is so reassuring: “there’s better things you’re gonna get into and I wanna be there too” – as in when you become that different person, you then give yourself the right to share more and growing up you realize that you actually need close people to become a complete person, coz otherwise, however good you think you are, it doesn’t really matter.
    I’m sorry I wrote so much again, I could as well write those things on a blog, but no one’s gonna read it there, and even if they do, I’ll feel like I shared too much, even on Tubmlr. So if you read it, thank you :)

  • carolynmin July 2nd, 2014 9:21 AM

    Tavi, I love how you can so easily let thousands of strangers direct insight to your wonderful thought process every month. I loved this letter so much, I just graduated high school and turned 18 too and it’s making me feel so many different things and it’s wonderful to know that you, as someone who has already accomplished so much at such a young age is feeling everything I’m feeling too. It’s also comforting to know that so many other people on this website feel the same way and are in the same position. Don’t ever stop Tavi you’re magnificent.

  • pizzaface July 2nd, 2014 9:28 AM

    So excited for Rookie yearbook 3!!!! The good part is that, like past year, it comes just in time to ask for christmas :)

  • pizzaface July 2nd, 2014 9:49 AM

    I was gonna say that I disagreed with the ”but July/The Great Unknown is black and white in anticipation.” because I thought the Unknown would rather be something exciting and vague, yet to discover, then something empty like white or black. Though now I also quite like the idea of it being white so that you still have to fill it with colors yourself, however you want it.

  • bonfires July 2nd, 2014 10:10 AM

    we all get older at the same speed, it’s weird and wonderful

  • maddzfashion July 2nd, 2014 10:28 AM

    Tavi, thank you for such a relatable letter. I’ve been feeling the same way since I graduated high school last June 2013. It seems like theres supposed to be this conveyor belt that takes you from high school to college to the real world, but its really not like that at all. What’s really helped me to grow into being more of an adult everyday is learning to embrace each day. I’ve always had anxiety issues, and would stress out about the future 5 years ahead of me. It’s not worth it. I see my high school peers on social media everyday stressing out about each internship and summer job and connection that they absolutely NEED to make in order to get where they think they need to be in life. They’re really going to get to that prospective position in life, and feel lost. I’d say, do things because you crave the enjoyment of the moment, and not the result or notation on a resume. Take it day by day (:

    Thank you so much Tavi and the Rookie staff for continuously enlightening me with your content (:

    Much love,



  • Shanlew July 2nd, 2014 10:31 AM

    Oh wow this was so wonderful to read. I feel like I’ve been in a constant state of facing the great unknown this whole year. Two days ago I moved house, alone, in my new city for the third time in 6 months and all I could feel was uncertainty. Thank you for helping me realise how exciting and liberating this feeling is! I know there will come a time when life will be more stagnant than it is now, when I will have the same people, home, and routine in my life for years. So I am just going to enjoy the turbulence of not knowing while it lasts.

  • sandyalison July 2nd, 2014 11:06 AM


    Congratulations on your move, and on continuing to participate in the ever expansive great unknown that is early adulthood. I am 26, and recently saw This Is Our Youth – and though I’m a touch older than the characters in the show, and though it’s not 1982, I related to the dialogue and action in an inexplicable way. There was a touch of cockiness wrapped into the fear of the unknown that carried the story through, and I couldn’t turn away. I am on the cusp of quitting a job I find to be non-stimulating and non-creative in search of the great unknown through graduate school here in Chicago. I am both eager and terrified, but it’s the search of the unknown with the underlying hope of finding the greater good in myself and in the world that all of this will start to make sense.

    Bravo for your show, for moving, for being you, and for Rookie Yearbook Three. X’s and O’s, Sandy

  • Nadifa July 2nd, 2014 2:08 PM

    This is so weird, but Tavi, you are the only inspiration and role model I have whose the same age as I am. So I feel really related. I am leaving my home soon too, continuing my study in a university. I’m wishing you a good luck for the next phase of your life!

    Also, I can’t wait to get Rookie Yearbook Three. I’m excited cause I got time to save first (the yearbook becomes really expensive once it arrives in Indonesia). Aaaargh and I wanna read the Shailene’s interview as well! :)))


  • Tourdivoire July 2nd, 2014 2:25 PM

    Tavi Tavi Tavi!
    It’s amazing how different we are, and yet how I find myself in sync with your editor’s letters regularly.

    At the beginning of May, I was at the top of the world. Travelling to New York City for the first time, totally in love with my S.O., thinking about the future with so much confidence.

    Two weeks later we were broken up, I was back in Paris, alone in my apartment. I just started a new job on Monday.

    I feel like a blank slate. I have been dressing like one, black skinny jeans and a white shirt, waiting for the world to colour me.

    Sometimes I get back home and don’t even know what to do with my free time. My old dreams feel so weird and foreign! Playing the ukulele, learning another language, writing out ideas for the Ultimate Dream (starting a French version of Rookie)… I don’t know where to get the energy.
    Other times I feel overly excited, dress in bold prints, and try to have as much fun as the night can give. I flirt, sing and dance, and laugh till my cheeks hurt.
    And then there are days like today, the in-between, when I feel on the verge. Questionning myself, opening myself to an infinity of possibilities, trying to make out a not-so-distant future. I was listening to Lorde when I read your letter Tavi, and before that I was reading The Bell Jar for the first time. I bought the book in NYC with my ex, maybe deep down I knew I would have to nurture myself again, learn to be me, even if I don’t know who that is anymore.

    I don’t know when I’ll die, and that’s so liberating.

  • whodatgal July 2nd, 2014 4:23 PM

    i wish i could say sumthing more eloquent or poetic but tbh tavi you baffle me!!! i am pretty cool wiv celebrities and meeting them (i randomly met fka twigs after she followed me on insta at this dance show by chance afew weekends ago and honestly it was so chill) but u are the one person i would be lost for words with if i were ever to meet. i would probably cry and don’t know what to pick out of the a million things to say. ] this was supposed to b short n sweet so anyway on a more relevant note, the yearbook 3 comes out on my birthday this year and i’m so happy about it !!! great timing so big hugs 4 that —

    ily u guys (from ophelia)

  • pasteldaisies July 2nd, 2014 4:40 PM

    on days like these i am more thankful than ever for rookie and this beautiful community of beautiful people and beautiful things. i fear that the feelings of exhilaration and hope towards the great unknown can be so easily forgotten when the pain and disappointments and hard hitting answers do finally come, but i think that is part of its magic, and maybe remembering how hopeful we felt in the beginning can comfort us and help us get through those hard times. thank you tavi, thank you rookie for providing a haven in this great unknown.

    also it’s uncanny that i read this and the photographer nirrimi’s piece “death to childhood” on the same day (http://www.theroadishome.com/death-of-childhood/) – they’re so similar in the sense of reconciling the magic and uncertainty of growing up, and i love how she describes growth/letting go of childhood as falling, when we typically think of growth as moving upwards. maybe at first we naively think we’re going to fly and soar through the air and when the fall comes instead we feel disappointed but then gradually learn to enjoy it. i think that’s what it means to jump (and fall) into the great unknown and what it really means to be alive.

  • headintheclouds July 3rd, 2014 4:53 AM

    ”so I’ve been talking less and drifting more and actively testing a theory that reincarnation can happen to live bodies by trying to turn myself into a blank slate. ”
    this is so beautiful and sad and thrilling and comforting, I mean the whole letter really is.
    Just when i started to feel all alone in this state of confusion and the feeling that I’m just not making the ‘right’ choices, nor any choices at all, and more aware of the fact that it may not go away with a flash or without a struggle, I read this and went through the comments and felt that I was still trappes in my bubble only now I see the other bubbles too more clearly which makes it so much easier and prettier because I do enjoy being alone but I also enjoy knowing that I am not alone, not really, because the world is experiencing with me, it sound a bit cliche but I believe that, I truly do, so thank you Rookie

  • satiricalkid July 3rd, 2014 9:03 AM

    Wow this is right up my alley. I’m moving in three days to an unknown city and I’m leaving everything behind. The odd part is, I have spent the last year or so dreaming for hours at a time about change and adventure. But now that it’s so close, I want more than anything to hide in the fort my friends and I played truth or (rather hot) dare in last night. I want to go back in time and watch american horror story like we used to. I want to lay one more time on my now packed up bed sheet and listen do David Bowie with them while the rest of our class is stuck in math. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that we will never ever sprint away from Mrs. Gonnet again. It’s all too confusing and Tavi’s writing is the best once more.

  • dragonfly July 3rd, 2014 12:01 PM

    It’s really late, and I should be asleep. I’ve been up and wasn’t feeling the greatest.. But now I am full of excitement for Rookie Yearbook 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) :) Rookie is so much to me <3

  • Erin. July 3rd, 2014 5:38 PM

    Feeling like a weird fetus is spot on.

    I graduated from university two years ago, and it’s like I was out of existence for a while, but now I’m here again as a little baby fern slowly uncurling my tendrils. It’s very odd.

  • Renie July 3rd, 2014 6:00 PM

    Love Rookie sooo much!!


  • paigemlev July 3rd, 2014 7:59 PM

    This was insanely well-written. Thank you so much for writing about this, I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I feel like you took the thoughts straight out of my brain. The comment you included that “M” left has really motivated me. Thank you Tavi!!

  • Hester July 4th, 2014 10:54 AM

    This reminds me so much of a passage (my favourite passage) from Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.

    “It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing. People were talking about the end of physics. Relativity and quantum mechanics looked as if they were going to clean out the whole problem between them. A theory of everything. But they only explained the very big and the very small. The universe, the elementary particles. The ordinary-sized stuff which is our lives, the things people write poetry about – clouds – daffodils – waterfalls – and what happens in a cup of coffee when the cream goes in – these things are full of mystery, as mysterious to us as the heavens were to the Greeks. Because the problem turns out to be different. We can’t even predict the next drop from a dripping tap when it gets irregular. Each drip sets up the conditions for the next, the smallest variation blows prediction apart, and the weather is unpredictable the same way, will always be unpredictable. When you push the numbers through the computer you can see it on the screen. The future is disorder. A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.”

    I think part of the appeal of the unknown for me is the in the fear of it. The chance to prove yourself brave.

  • Kiana Kimberly Flores July 5th, 2014 2:42 PM

    My heart truly glows every single time I read your monthly letters, Tavi. Thank you so much for word-vomiting all of your emotions (the diary-writing is inspirational for me, too) and sharing it here. I feel as though you have kept grounded despite various recognitions. I feel like this month’s theme, The Great Unknown, is in line with what I am going through as a sophomore college student here in Philippines. I have been able to adjust and I am trying to live “in the moment” but I just cannot help thinking about the ~future~ and what’s waiting for me at the end of this course curriculum. It scares the shit out of me, at times, but then when I go back and reminisce about how I was able to survive all of life’s bitchslaps, I feel proud of myself for having faced all of it. I fear the great unknown because, this time as I think of it, there is so much uncertainty. But I vowed to never ever let my fear become so big that it hinders me from achieving my goal.
    Big love to you and to the wonderful Rookie staff.
    I am very much in love with Rookie now. This site’s, like, my soul soother/companion. ♥

  • Dch525 July 6th, 2014 7:52 PM

    I enjoyed this very much, both Tavi’s writing and all the comments, at age 55 with my youngest child going off to college. Life as a mother who doesn’t have to do a lot of mothering any more is a Great Unknown for me.
    I like this recent quote form Kim Gordon “sometimes you lose your narrative or get tired of it. Then it takes a while to figure out what the new one is.”
    Trying to live in that in-between space and have the patience to wait and see as opposed to forcing something to happen is a challenge. Replacing fear with anticipation.

  • lucilleaime July 9th, 2014 7:44 AM

    Hi there !
    Sorry I don’t really know where to ask this… I saw that you’re currently changing stuff on Rookie, but will there still be a theme next month ?
    I’ve got time to draw these days, and I’m totally in the mood for a Rookie submission ! :)

    Keep up !

    • Anaheed July 9th, 2014 8:58 AM

      Yes, there will be — I’ll put it up in that little alert box today. Psyched to see your submission!

      • lucilleaime July 11th, 2014 11:38 AM

        Cool ! Looking forward to it ! :)

  • bufflehead July 31st, 2014 9:32 PM

    For me, and I think for many readers, Rookie has become an emblem of teen girlhood. Having just finished my first year of college, I drifted away from the site, for some of the very reasons discussed in this letter. This was the first piece I read in a while, and it articulates beautifully many sentiments that I have thought about in my first year of limbo away from high school life, where the aesthetic was so eagerly mapped out for me by the internet and other cultural media. Everyone seemed so excited about college that I felt alone in my private world of constant thought as I made one big realization after another. If Rookie is an emblem of teen girlhood, then Tavi has become its icon, or so I had come to see her. It was weird to know that she had finished high school—what were the teen girls of the world supposed to do without her leading a parallel life? I will admit I was bothered by the concept of Tavi Gevinson not being a suburban high school kid anymore, because I was bothered by losing the part of myself I associated with high school and her writing. But it was comforting to read this letter, which echoes so many of my own feelings as she moves forward in a similar way—a bittersweet solidarity. And I smiled because—what do you know—she came up with a vibe for that too.

  • rameen1402 August 7th, 2014 9:27 AM

    This is beautiful. It’s given me the impetus to dive into my own unknown.

  • Luci-d September 3rd, 2014 5:46 AM

    wow Tavi, every time i read you I am amazed at how much you are able to stop and reflect on yourself, your feelings, your situation. I find it very brave because it terrifies me to do the same. I am too at a point of my life where I feel like I am somehow at the end of a cycle. I am about to move alone in a new country where I don’t know anybody and odly enough it didn’t really hit me until I read your post. I don’t know you and our situations are very different but reading what you wrote made me understand a little better how I was feeling. And I am really grateful for that. Also what is great about rookie is that very often the comments really add something to the article and in a way help in making it complete. So I just wanted to thank you for all that.