I have a crush on a guy that one of my best friends is dating. He is a great guy with almost my exact sense of humor, and he shares my tastes in movies and music. I love my friend and I hate that this is coming between us, but I don’t feel like she always gets him, since she is more preppy and into sports. How do I get over my “Taylor Swift Situation”?

If I start by saying something that might be a little to a lot morally dubious and might promote selfishness and disregard for others, will you promise to stick with me until the end? Yes? OK, here goes: if you really, truly think that you and your best friend’s boyfriend have a DEEEEEEEEP SOUL CONNECTION and that you totally get him and he totally gets you AND you can’t live with yourself unless you make that known to him AND if you don’t do something you will always regret it for the rest of your life AND you can live with your best friend potentially feeling very hurt and betrayed by you in a way that she may or may not ever forgive you for, then go for it. Tell him how you feel and see how he responds.

I mean, it is a fundamentally shitty thing to try and steal your best friend’s boyfriend, and I know that you know that, and I know that your knowing that is part of what is tormenting you. I’m sure you feel guilty that you’ve even entertained the thought of wanting them to break up, or worse, that you deserve him more than she does. I’m not saying you have these thoughts because you are a shitty person who wants to do shitty things. Things like this happen. We pine for someone who just so happens to be dating our best friend and even if we love and respect said best friend, we still pine all the same. This is OK. Our feelings are sometimes messy and not always admirable. I’m also not saying the right thing to do is to plot to break them up and then immediately start dating him, because there is no “right” thing to do when it comes to the chaotic stuff of human emotions. All I am saying is that we’re all autonomous human beings who are allowed to make our own decisions, even if they are potentially hurtful ones, as long as we are prepared to accept the consequences.

You need to decide if it’s worth it for you to try and pursue your crush on this boy if it means hurting your friend. And you need to decide if you feel really that, out of all the potential cute boys in the world who have your sense of humor and share your taste in music and movies (and there are A LOT of them out there, trust me), the one for you can be none other than the one guy who happens to be dating your best friend. Put it another way: is it worth it to fixate on this dude who is in a relationship with your friend OR is it more worth it to be patient and/or proactive about meeting other dudes who fit the criteria of being (a) totally cool and down with your interests and (b) not your best friend’s boyfriend?

Something else to consider is that a relationship between two people is so much more than just having common interests. I mean, you basically already know this because from what I can gather from your question, if you and this dude share the same sense of humor and more of the same interests than he shares with your best friend, then that must mean that you and your best friend don’t have the exact same sense of humor or share ALL of the same interests, right? And yet, look! She is still your best friend. You still love her a lot. You don’t think of yourself as incompatible with her, do you? I assume that you care about her and love hanging out with her and find her to be a pretty cool person in general, otherwise you wouldn’t consider her your best friend. Wouldn’t it get your goat if some girl thought she deserved to be friends with your best friend more than you do because the two of them share the same taste in movies and music? Do you see where I’m going?

The point is that it’s not for you to decide who should be with whom. You can certainly decide that you want to be with your best friend’s boyfriend, but you can’t presume that you get him more than she does, because to think that is to presume you know the intimate details of their relationship, which you don’t. You aren’t privy to all the ways in which they are wrong for each other or right for each other, because the only two people who know why they are with each other are the two people who are with each other. In the end, no one is entitled to anyone else, which is why I think it’s OK if it turns out that you and this guy really are perfect for each other and you both independently decide that you want to pursue a romantic relationship at the risk of seriously hurting your best friend. BUT, you need to also acknowledge the very real possibility that just because you think you have a deeper connection with him than she does, does not mean that you actually do, nor does it entitle you to him, because, once again, no one is entitled to anyone, you know? All you know is how much you value your friendship with your best friend and how much you value your crush on her boyfriend, and from there, I truly believe that you will figure out what you’d like to do with those conflicting feelings.

And remember, you still have SO MUCH TIME to meet cute boys who like the things you like and laugh at the things you laugh at. Over the next few years, you will probably date a few of them, and I bet you will even date someone who doesn’t have the same sense of humor as you or like the same movies, but it won’t matter at all because you will still think he’s the dopest boyfriend in the world!

I know all of this might seem kind of horrifying…but I wanted to get real with you, and I hope you don’t regret sticking with me until the end. —Jenny

So I like this guy. He likes me. Good, right? Here’s the problem. He’s really passive. He doesn’t like to plan stuff. I’m cool with taking the first steps, but he’s said he doesn’t like girls who are “pushy.” So what do I do? Kiss him? Keep hanging out? Ack! Also: I’ve heard that good posture is sexy. But I’m six feet tall—taller than the average American man. A lot of guys get annoyed when I’m visibly taller than they are. Thoughts? —Mickey

Hi Mickey. Measuring in at nearly 5′11″ myself and having ample experience navigating the passive man/pushy woman dichotomy, let me first tell you that I feel you. That said, let’s get the easier one out of the way first: please do not be ashamed of your height! You know who’s tall? Models. You know who thinks models don’t get asked out by American men? No one.

There are two key things to know about being tall:

1. It’s how you are, so DO NOT try to hide it. Way too many tall teenage girls slouch or slump to try to appear shorter, which is disastrous because your bones and muscles are still developing, and if you slouch all the time, you run the danger of getting to a point where you’re incapable of standing up straight. (I know people this has happened to—seriously). Not only is this aesthetically unappealing, it’s not good for your body, and can cause problems and pain as you age. You’ll grow out of your self-consciousness; you won’t grow out of your humpbacked body.

2. I’m not going to patronize you and say “guys don’t care if you’re tall.” Some of them do—usually it’s not that they find your height unattractive, but that they’re intimidated by it. For these guys, you can use some combination of humor and honest acknowledgment (i.e., making a joke about your height) to win them over. It’s also very important to know that a lot of guys think that tall girls are HOT, and are proud to stand next to us. In any case, you need to find a guy who’s comfortable with himself. This isn’t always easy, but it’s the only way to go. In a way I’ve always felt lucky about my height, because it automatically filters out a lot of the insecure jerks.

The other part of your question is harder, but the first thing to establish is that knowing what you want and acting on it in a reasonable way = being assertive (good), not “pushy” (bad). Too often, a girl expressing a desire—“I want to kiss you” or “I’d rather not sit in your bedroom and watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the fourth night in a row” or “Can we PLEASE watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the fourth night in a row?!”—is seen as bossy or pushy. This is bs! Saying “You have to kiss me right this second or I’ll tell everyone you’re afraid” or “I won’t hang out anymore if you don’t watch The Fellowship of the Ring with me” is pushy. Being assertive means you’re establishing that your desires deserve equal footing, and that you each have the right to do what you want (and hopefully those things will overlap).

The tricky thing is that it’s hard to tell if this guy is just a little shy/nervous/unimaginative about activity planning, or if there’s something more troubling afoot. If he’s just struggling to come up with ideas, using positive reinforcement can be useful—remind him of a time he did suggest an activity and say how much fun you had, and tell him outright that you’d be totally up for trying anything he suggests.

BUT: “he doesn’t like to plan stuff” could mean that he won’t pin down plans and is waiting to see if anything else comes along and when nothing does he’s contacting you to hang out and then putting almost no effort into it. If you’re suggesting fun ideas for hanging out and his response is either blasé or involving statements like “I don’t like pushy girls,” then I’d say you’re looking at some serious red flags.

Either way, the guys that are by far the most stimulating are the ones with great imaginations, so give him a shot to find his. If he doesn’t or can’t, you might want to think about moving on to another drink of water, tall or short. —Emily C.

I have depression. I’m doing all the right things, including seeing a therapist/psychiatrist, but sometimes my depression interferes with my ability to do…anything. At all. Things I used to identify with, like writing, and things I’d do just for fun, like drawing, I’m totally unable to do anymore. If I try to push myself to do those things I get exhausted and am unhappy with the results. You guys seem able to deal with stress and depression and still consistently create strong art and writing—how do you do it? How do you prevent depression from defining your whole life? —Dess

I really really wish I could give you a hug right now, Dess, because I know how bleak things can feel when the pleasure is sucked out of stuff you used to enjoy. In fact, I think it is probably one of the worst things about depression, and there isn’t a quick fix. It’s more of a journey.

First of all, hopefully you are on the road to recovery or at least to feeling better. Therapists/psychiatrists can be a very good idea, and this feeling you’re having is something you MUST bring up with them, because they should be able to get to the root causes.

Now, even while you’re being treated and getting better, as you know, you can from time to time sink back into this hole. I still have days where I can’t do anything. I think you just have to accept that. Forcing yourself to do the things you feel like you should be doing can make things worse.

Most important, you have to realize that this feeling will pass eventually. Before I really understood this, this hopeless no-pleasure feeling would suck me deeper into that paralysis where I’m unable to do the things I want to do because I think I can’t do them. But you CAN do them. I’d recommend trying something you’ve never done before to start with, because you don’t already have “I should do this, it’s what I enjoy or what defines me” associations with it. The last time I felt the way you’re feeling now, I started writing really bad poetry. But I only think of it as bad when I go back now and read it; at the time I would just write it and move on—turn the page to the next clean one. It felt good, and I didn’t feel any pressure to do it, or to do it well, or the “right” way.

Also, I don’t think anyone CONSISTENTLY creates strong art and writing. If anyone did, they would be a superhero. It sounds like you put a lot of pressure on yourself and that needs to STOP. Right now. Stop it. Find something that moves you, listen to music that is completely different from what you’re used to, take a walk somewhere new and really look around. Eventually something will wake you up again. I promise. Try to be patient—I know it’s hard. The hardest thing for me was not reading as much as I like to, but now it’s like I am discovering the joys of reading all over again, so it’s not such a bad thing to take a break from the things you used to do and go back to them when you feel ready.

It sounds crazy, but you can learn a lot from depression. When you’re feeling better (and you will), you might even look back and realize you are a stronger person because of it. And then you can write amazing things about your experiences. —Naomi

Tavi, as a blogger, editor-in-chief of this fine magazine, high school student, social being, and pursuer of many other hobbies—how do you manage your time? I struggle to manage going to school, working, doing schoolwork, and pursuing creative stuff such as writing and making collages. You even find time to reply to comments on Rookie, although I am sure you are just sitting upon your leather throne, eating pomegranates and shouting replies to your minions who type for you and fetch you exotic fruit. Much like Ellen DeGeneres does. All my lovin’, Ally.

Hi, Ally! Hold on, let me adjust my sitting position, carefully so my leather seat doesn’t make it sound like I’m farting. AH, THERE WE ARE. Now, to your question. Since you’ve asked about my own experience—my day has five parts: sleep, school, Rookie and related commitments, homework, and either hanging out with friends or doing something on my own, which can mean either being super creative and productive, or watching TV, which I consider important because sometimes you need to shut your brain off. It was by no means easy to finally find the right balance, mostly because to keep everything in its time slot, I had to cut out all the little things that would make some parts of my day take longer than they need to, keeping me from having time for all of them. Things like procrastinating, listening to music while studying which made it go slower, trying to videochat with a friend while working on Rookie, etc. It’s hard to stop procrastinating, but once the stress gets to a certain level, you realize the value in just GETTING SHIT DONE. Then you can never go on Tumblr again without thinking about how nice it would be to just finish your paper and then have time to watch a movie later, and then you just shrug and get back to discussing Aristotle or whatever.

Another ~tip~ is to focus on one thing at a time. I don’t know if you do this, but for a while I had a habit of getting distracted from homework to start making another page of my notebook into a comic or letter or something. I would justify this by telling myself that my doodles were different and important and LIFE homework. Which is a little true, but I still have to be in high school for 2 1/4 more years, and it’s easier to just do the work and be done with it and then be able to put time into one thing I’m really proud of later instead of tons of little doodles.

That being said, look for holes in your own different time slots that you could use to work on other things. It’s way different from getting distracted and procrastinating, because sometimes a time slot might involve waiting. Like, I don’t know what you do for work, but you can bring a book to read if you often find yourself waiting around, and then there’s some “me time” that you’ve gotten in. The important thing to remember to keep THIS from ALSO getting stressful is that you don’t have to be DOING SOMETHING ALL THE TIME. Like, I use my study hall to work on homework, but I during my lunch period I just want to relax and enjoy my Gushers with my friends. I guess I could use it to finish all of my homework for the day, but by sixth period my brain is too mushy and needs a break.

Oh, that’s another thing: figure out when you work best. I, for example, cannot do homework immediately after school. I need to recharge and get started later at night. So my Rookie time or hanging-out/me-time usually comes right after school. It would be wasting time to try and do geometry when my brain is in no state to get it all done as quickly as I could at another time.

I’m going to tell you what my school counselor, a wonderful lady who understands the thinking behind both my academic and creative pursuits, told me: something’s gotta give. It would be impossible to both do everything you want to do and do it well. So, you have to prioritize a bit, and maybe the priorities shift from time to time so that one section of your life doesn’t collapse.

For example, I have at times decided that I just can’t do exceptionally well in a certain school subject for a while because it’s become really important that I have time to write in my diary every night while something in real life is going on. Or, I can oversee Rookie in the way I normally do but not be as involved in the comments section as I’d like to be because I have lots of tests and projects due one week. Or, not be social or work on any personal creative projects for a couple weeks so I can go to bed early instead and get as much sleep as possible, because I realize I’ve been tired all the time lately.

Overarching to-do lists and planners are daunting to me and just looking at them stresses me out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been like, TODAY IS THE DAY I START GETTING SHIT DONE, FOR I JUST BOUGHT A BEAUTIFUL CALENDAR FROM BORDERS. That’s too intimidating for me. Instead, I make mini to-do lists when I sit down to work on a different time slot, for the satisfaction of crossing things off and so I don’t get off task on doodling or Facebook or whatever. Different things work for different people, but I recommend trying either the full-on planner or the little to-do lists, and seeing what helps you.

So…I hope this helps? (1) Get rid of tiny slower-downers and procrastinating. (2) Focus on one thing at a time. (3) Look for empty chunks of time when you can slot something in, even if that thing is “sit down somewhere and breathe.” (4) Know when your brain and energy are able to work on each task in your day. (5) Understand that you may need to compromise and reprioritize. (6) Write it all down if it helps.

Now, bring me my pomegranates! —Tavi

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