I’ve been through a bunch of different phases—hippie, metalhead, grunge, riot grrrl, goth—and I’ve been obsessed with Stephen King books, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Tim Burton movies, soap operas like One Life to Live, and Chicago Blackhawks hockey. There were times when my disparate interests made me feel like a fraud, but I’ve come to honor the many different parts of myself and acknowledge how much fuller my life has been because I’ve drawn inspiration from varied sources.
As much as I’ve been shaped by the pop culture I’ve adored, though, the people around me have been my greatest influences—and I’m not just talking about my best friends. There have been girls in my life who introduced me to key things I loved or elements of myself, or just gave me permission to be someone I wanted or needed to be at the time. Some of them I only hung out with briefly, and in a couple cases, I barely knew them at all, but I wouldn’t be who I am without them. Maybe girls like them live in your heart, too. —Stephanie