This is a piece I wrote for a scholarship from the library where I worked as a student. I won. It’s funny finding this piece I wrote in 2013? 2014? given that I JUST wrote a blog post about my affection for Rookie and wanting to rediscover a part of myself that I admired and forgotten about. It makes me feel good to know that I’m periodically checking in with myself and taking stock of whether I’m really doing the things I want to be doing. And it’s nice to see that there seems to be a common thread of what it is I value most and think I should be spending my time doing.
Wow, I can’t believe the year is already over. It seems like just yesterday I was listening to one of your hilarious speeches in speech class. You are such a passionate person, and I know you will get far in life. Hopefully I will see you organizing giant music gigs around the world in the future!!
This was written to me in my high school yearbook. Though I don’t miss high school, I do miss the girl that Ryan is talking about. She was passionate, ambitious, had the time to be introspective, and was not yet crippled by her own self-awareness. Somewhere along the way, I’d lost that.
I discovered Rookie Yearbook One in HQ 798, the girlhood section of the Suzzallo/Allen library, which I frequent often, trying to make sense of where things may have gone wrong for me. The description on the back of the book read: “RookieMag.com is not a guide to Being a Teen or a texbook on How to Be a Young Woman. It’s a publication for teenage girls intending to make the best of the cringe-worthy awkwardness and sometimes sort of beautiful pain that is female adolescence.” Yearbook One is an anthology of the online magazine’s best content throughout the year bound together like a high school yearbook. It was at this moment that I felt that I had received a gift. I took it home and poured over it. It was as if Rookie had populated an entire high school with the coolest, smartest girls you knew and always wanted to meet. It’s a Sassy Magazine for the post-Riot Grrrl generation.
At first I felt strange and embarrassed that I identified so strongly with this magazine aimed at teen girls. Then I realized that the feeling of uncertainty and infinite sadness doesn’t end when you turn twenty. Your pubescent angst becomes teen angst; your teen angst becomes permanent existential crisis. Those feelings are universal. As Joan Rivers once said, “It doesn’t get better. You get better.”
Rookie reintroduced me to the part of myself that I had once written off as sophomoric. Rookie showed me the joy of loving things whole-heartedly and without irony. They taught me that nostalgia can be productive. And that being forthright and female is awesome. As an aspiring writer, Rookie helped me realize that I didn’t have to write for a tangible goal like being published or to please everyone. I needed to write for myself again.
In high school I was obsessed with music, movies, and art; it was through this immersion in the work of others that I learned the most about myself. It’s said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, and I consider Rookie one of those people. Since the introduction of Rookie into my social circle, I’ve once again been able to find those moments of strange magic and write about them.