Illustration by Isabella Acosta.

Dear Rookies,

July’s theme is “Origin Story,” like the part in a superhero comic or movie where you learn how the hero got their powers or what tragedy turned the villain pure evil. As if a single event could not only alter a person’s circumstances, but make them who they are. A Double Helix diagram of their moral fiber.

This month is about the origin stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves. Where the truth ends, where the lies begin, and where the lies become so tangible that, in the great American tradition of self-mythologizing, they become a new kind of truth. From Jay Gatsby to our current president, watching this narrative device in the hands of master fabricators makes me feel optimistic and cynical, all at once.

Other pieces will be simply about one’s roots, without the spin. We’ll be thinking about what it means to “remember where you came from,” and to grow away from—or into—the life you were prescribed. The guilt that might come from outgrowing your surroundings if the rest of your family never had the same opportunities, or the feeling of obligation you may have to lead a big life that your parents couldn’t. The way we might compare ourselves to the picture we get of our parents when they were our age, however they choose to paint it—whatever Origin Story they’ve been repeating all these years.

As always, we want to see what you have to say/write/paint/draw/collage/photograph/ask us about the subject, so please check out our Submit page to learn more about sending in your work, or your voice (!) for the Rookie Podcast.

Love and flashback sound effects,