Letter From the Editor

October 31, 2018


We are halfway through the semester, and for most of us, things are just as confusing as they were at the beginning. We’re still stressed, lost, overanalyzing every decision we made up to this point, regretting the choices that left us in spaces of uncertainty and doubt. But hey, that’s showbiz baby.

What we don’t seem to recognize and fail to dissect with every molecule of our being, is our own ability to be incredibly way too hard on ourselves. Everything is a mistake that could have been avoided, and we force ourselves to take the blame for situations that are entirely out of our control. A few weeks ago I scraped the entire passenger side door of my beloved Toyota Venza, the Queen of crossover vehicles, on a column that occupies, like, 30% of the my parking spot in my building. Did I forgive myself and think, “Hey, this could have happened to anybody, and it’s really going to be fine?”  No. I did what any irrational overly caffeinated 21-year-old running on 4 hours of sleep would do: I sat in my car for half an hour crying, thinking back on everything I did during the week that afforded me such bad karma. How do we begin to see ourselves as the flawed humans that we are and cut ourselves a break? How do we allow ourselves to learn from these flaws and grow into stronger people?

This week’s Iris looks at our ability to judge ourselves and be judged as humans. Elizabeth Bangura lays out the guidelines for black artists at UVA in her article, a rulebook that considers how whiteness affects black creative spaces on Grounds. Laura Hinnenkamp takes us out to eat in her piece, examining how internalized rules about food, our bodies, and our ethics have shaped our dining experiences. In Bel Banta’s piece, we read the story of a college freshman, eager to feel something in a meaningless hook-up—but does she succeed? Sierra Loudermilk describes the paralyzing power of chronic pain, and how what hurts the most physically can be emotionally numbing. Marwah Shuaib invites us to hear from the Rodriguez lecturer, Dr. Jensen Montambault, about her work as the Executive Director of the Science for Nature and People Partnership, an organization taking an interdisciplinary approach to ecology. 

And introducing....the Iris Advice Column, responding this week to a reader's question: “What do you do when you want a boyfriend but you don’t like any of the guys who like you?”

There is immense truth in the belief that we are our own toughest critics. We hold ourselves to impossible standards that leave us feeling inadequate and devalued. As the year moves forward, we should learn to embrace our flaws, learn from our mistakes, and let ourselves feel the freedom that comes from allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in even the most rigid of spaces. 

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