From the Editors:
We Are Cropped
"We hope that Cropped will be a place for beautiful stories: the sometimes awkward, sometimes funny, often sad ones about growing up."
When I graduated from college, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram went from news sources and entertainment to major causes of anxiety.
I was having a rough time transitioning into my post-college life, and it became painful to look at post after celebratory post of my friends’ carefree adventures. Suddenly their fun began to feel like constant reminders of things in my world that weren’t going so well.
It was hard for me to remember that most likely, my friends were going through their own struggles, too. But those weren’t the moments we were posting — the valleys of our lives simply didn’t make it onto our feeds. Fruitless job searches, mess-ups at work, breakups and conflicts with family members were getting cropped out. No one makes a status: “Hey guys. So excited to announce I applied to 12 jobs this month and never heard back from any of them!”
Through my changed feelings about using social media, I learned that lesson: Some of life’s most interesting moments happen when our cameras are off — whether or not those experiences are positive.
It's a feeling captured in one of my favorite Portlandia sketches, A Trip to Italy, which inspired our site's name.
I feel so lucky that Marina Csomor was willing to be my partner in this journey. We met in 2012, when we were doing a journalism internship together in Atlanta, and we’ve remained friends since. So many of our conversations have been about the beauty and the pain of trying to navigate this time in our lives. I’ve always appreciated Marina’s attention to detail and her ability to find the joy in aspects of everyday life I sometimes overlook. I’m glad she is sharing her vision with all of us.
Marina and I hope that Cropped will be a place for beautiful stories: the sometimes awkward, sometimes funny, often sad ones about growing up. The ones we don’t take photos of, or make statuses about. Thank you for sharing these vulnerable moments with us and with one another.
Maria LaMagna, December 2015
"This is a space for honesty, for growth. For us."
“Appreciate it now because after you graduate, all you’ll want to do is go back to school.” That was the sentiment I heard time and time again while I was still in college, from friends and friends of friends and parents of friends. They were living in the future and didn’t think it was so bright.
But it was hard to take these warnings to heart. As a senior, I longed for life after graduation — was sure I was more than ready for the “real world.”
The grass is always greener.
Then, soon after graduating, I got it. The real world was hard — and there was no manual. The doomsayers had tried to tell me. But I realized I was disappointed in the meagerness of their cautions. The struggle to which they had alluded was now real for me and so many of my friends, but our trials were complex and varied. Why weren’t more people talking about that?
I began to think more about the “20-something experience,” and literature about the topic seemed to pop up everywhere I turned. Maybe I just hadn’t been paying close enough attention.
I read Cheryl Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things,” which concludes with an essay dedicated to the advice columnist Sugar (Strayed) would give to her 20-something self today. A new acquaintance mentioned the book, “20 Something, 20 Everything,” a guide for the many women in their twenties experiencing a “quarter-life crisis.” And re-watching a few episodes of “Girls,” I thought about how the show, though fictional, is really an homage to the myriad misadventures of early adulthood.
There are people talking publicly about life at 20-something, and I appreciate these discussions. But I think we are just scratching the surface. So often I find that writers are looking back at their youth with reflective, even disassociated wisdom. But what about explorations of what it’s like to live as a 20-something right now?
At 23, I question my anxieties and my ambitions almost every day. Why do I feel so lost so often? Am I naive? Definitely. Am I entitled? Probably — even though I have never been one to shy away from hard work. Am I weak? I guess I’m not sure.
With time, many problems of this present may seem trivial. I recognize that one day I’ll look back on this project and say, “God, we were so young.”
But right now, in the weeds of this epoch, my emotions are real and raw, my need for compassion and solidarity — and perspective — are immediate.
Cropped was created by 20-somethings for 20-somethings. This is a space where no one’s challenges or triumphs, worries or realizations will be belittled.
We are truly young adults, cursed with inexperience. But we mustn’t be ashamed of this fact we can’t control. We simply must live it, collecting years until one day dropping that modifier feels right.
This is a space for honesty, for growth. For us.
Marina Csomor, December 2015