Editor's Letter: Beginnings

To the Reader:

About four years ago (yes, when I was in the sixth grade) I made a list of my favorite books. 

The list is probably what you would expect: a ton of popular series that are generic to a sixth grader’s reading list. Pretty uninteresting. But what embarrassingly tops the list was a book called “113 Things to do Before 13”. When I read the list over, I was mortified by my choice of what I thought was fine literature, but it helped me understand what it was like to be a naïve and unassuming middle schooler. Reading the book at a time when I wasn’t 13 felt like a true gift. It was a life manual that would inevitably help every aspect of my multifaceted life once I hit my TEENAGE YEARS. Eventually, the book became a source that I turned back to over and over again in middle school, and I imagined what the world would be like when I was a teenager and everything was exactly how the book made me picture it.

But when I turned thirteen, I didn’t feel any different. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by how old I was or how different everything might have been, because the 13-year-old and the 12-year-old in me were the same person. In the end, I think, the book wedged some positivity between me and what could’ve been dreaded adolescence, and once I got to this long-awaited milestone I realized that despite how much I had scrutinized “113 Things”, I didn’t know anything about what I would do afterwards, or where I would go. Why wasn’t there a guide on how to be a teenager in a world that is constantly changing and expanding?

As a fifteen year old, I want to make an impact. I can't say that I've had very many life experiences: I really only have thoughts. A realized, mature consciousness. See, it is during this time of our lives in which we undergo epiphanies regarding how small we are relative to the rest of the universe—and comprehending our helplessly trivial state is hard. After all, the one thing that kept us chugging along during childhood was the hallucination that the world revolved around our decisions and desires. But as we become adults, this aspect of our imagination is debunked, and one of the “grown-up” realities—the one that tells us we are merely a speck of dust in what seems to be an infinite continuum of worlds and galaxies and other objects of the unknown—is the truth. One might take away from these facts feeling truly insignificant—after all, why try if we’re merely ants?—and dissatisfied. Focusing on issues that happen in our small world may seem unimportant for this reason, but it is exactly these scientific facts that should motivate us to make differences in each others’ lives. Because not only is it wonderful that we, as humans, can imagine and conceptualize an entire universe with our very minds, but humans as small as we are can create change in each other, despite how minuscule we may seem.

That’s pretty remarkable. 

Perhaps this contrast of what determines largeness and smallness is why I find teenagers who talk about the world’s problems and about the world’s social issues—feminism, Black Lives Matter, and the like—so powerful. And why, as a young population, people see how meaningful it is when we become more and more passionate about the things that we’ve seen in a society that is larger than ourselves, a society that affects everybody who has its norms imposed upon them. 

It is for this reason why I decided to start the magazine: to highlight young people’s strengths, and to admire and share creative, unique, beautiful, and relatable pieces—writing, drawing, photography, or otherwise—that will help others understand big issues and, of course, manifest big ideas. To prove that we aren’t small, and that we have a voice as a young population in a world that is constantly changing. Constantly expanding. 

Many of you might take away from this letter the mere fact that we are physically small in numbers. I understand-- numbers are hard to detach from. But there are some of you who (I hope) will look up at the sky and the world feeling connected. There’s a Neil deGrasse Tyson quote I found some months ago that speaks on the topic of insignificance: 

“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.” —Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Cosmic Perspective

We are stardust. Isn’t that something?