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Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor 10.26.2021

On avoidance tactics, every band I've pretended to like, and celebrating try–hards.

letter 1026
Photo: Isabel Liang

I’m not sure that I’ll ever grow out of the music I liked when I was 16. If anything, I’m excited to grow more into it, to claim the bands I like for myself and not the ones I pretended to so boys would find me interesting. 

In tenth grade, I swapped Taylor Swift for the Misfits so that a 15–year–old with shaggy blonde hair would hold my hand during lunch. The summer before my senior year, I stomached car rides soundtracked by 6ix9ine so that I wouldn’t leave for college without knowing what second base felt like. And every summer since, I’ve slipped on a second sonic skin for acceptance. Tame Impala for Zach and J.I.D for Isaiah. OutKast for Ben and, now, the Monday Night Football theme song for someone I won’t name. 

All the while, I’d rather be singing along to a playlist of girl–with–guitar music, content enough to be by myself. 

At the risk of sounding like a red flag personified, I tend to use men as stand–ins for feelings I’ve deemed out of reach. Lately, it’s been a sense of belonging on this campus. I can’t remember when I stopped getting invited to things—parties, lunch, to ‘study’ at a booth in Van Pelt—but I do remember it was followed by a chronic need to fill the gaps. You can’t feel out of place on Locust Walk if you find a makeshift place in someone else’s passenger seat, after all, and there’s no need to complain about a lack of Friday night plans if you spend every weekend cosplaying a Stepford fantasy. Avoidance powers my love language (quality time), and I should probably schedule an extra appointment with my therapist.

I’ve always been jealous of two types of people: the ones who are able to admit they belong by themselves, and the ones who persist enough to find where they belong. I think I’m closer to becoming the former, but the latter is who this issue is about. They’re the ones who forge new spaces, traverse the awkward, and make it a little bit easier for the rest of us to feel included.

This issue centers on people who are redefining what it means to belong. We have explainers on the Black creatives carving a place in pop punk high–brow entertainment and a feature on students building community in a little–known study abroad program. Mostly, we’re celebrating those whose comfort zones sit right at the nexus of fitting in and standing out.


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