I stopped being a teenager nearly a decade ago. I am currently very much ensconced in the late-twenties age bracket. Which feels increasingly odd. It is a space in which I sometimes I feel like an outsider, removed from a life and lifestyle that doesn't fit. This feeling becomes stronger when I glance around at many of my contemporaries: long-term relationships, marriage, children, houses and mortgages dominate their landscapes.
Society tells us that as we get older we're supposed to possess a greater understanding of who we are. We're supposed to know what it is we want and where we want to be, we're supposed to be confident and assured and articulate. We're supposed to be all these things we associate with adulthood. We're not supposed to be brimming with self-doubt, we're not supposed to be unsure of our place in the world, we're not supposed to be still figuring stuff out as we look down the barrel of thirty. But you know what, some of us are.
I am. And I think it's why I love Rookie so much.
Ostensibly aimed at teenage girls, there is something about the ethos of the site and the associated yearbook that feels like a welcoming embrace, despite the fact that I fall so far outside the intended audience.
It's a space where it's ok to be unsure, to have doubts, to have questions.
Perhaps a lot of that comes down to its founder, Tavi Gevinson, who while surely the most articulate and considered teenager you've ever encountered is still just that: a teenager. And with that teenage-hood comes the wrestling of the self as you attempt to find a place for yourself in a world that sometimes doesn't want to let you in.
Much is made of the desire to describe something as serious writing, to place it above all other work, to point to it as the peak of the human consciousness poured out onto the page - or a website, it is 2015 after all. Generally we, to our own detriment, posit the work of adults, particularly white cis male ones, as this beacon, this peak, we must all aim for. But in doing so, we miss brilliance and vigour and enthusiastic interpretations of the world, we miss places like Rookie.
We miss pieces like this one 'How To Deal When You're Caught Masturbating' and this on making friends, pertinent given my impending move. And we miss all of these videos, touching, heartfelt and brimming with actual real world advice, Ask A Grown Woman/Man is Rookie gold. And Tavi's monthly editors letters, a curious mix of personal and cultural that often just say shit that is kind of perfect, take this tidbit from this months letter:
'I am wary of coming off as obnoxious or opinionated or in possession of any personality whatsoever. I don’t want to make other people feel uncomfortable or suffocated or imposed upon. But a full realization of this goal looks like: a chunk of air in a human-shaped outline formed by dust particles. It feels like: sinking into a La-Z-Boy that is not even that comfortable, then slowly folding into its brown flannel buttcrack and dispensing the occasional self-deprecating joke until I have vanished completely.'
The thing is, this writing is serious, in the way that serious means different things to different people. I think talking about sex and masturbation, particularly to young girls, is serious and something that doesn't happen enough. I think adults contemplating friendship, like teenagers do, is serious and something that doesn't happen often enough. I think young women too often become that chunk of air, too often sink into that La-Z-Boy, and we don't take that seriously enough. But serious doesn't have to mean staid, serious doesn't have to mean devoid of humour, serious doesn't have to mean without feeling and emotion.
As I approach thirty, I don't see my appreciation for Rookie waning. Perhaps, if anything, as I'm about to throw myself headlong into some serious life upheaval, a safe and warm and reassuring space will be what I'll need more than ever.