Letter from the Editor, Farewell from Iris!
Art by Kirsten Hemrich
This is it, Iris’s last issue for the 2018-2019 school year, and we could not have been happier to have spent the last several months sharing our thoughts, ideas, and passions with the Iris readership. For many of us, the closing of this year means the closing of our chapters at both Iris and at UVA. On one hand, we all love a good transition. We love the opportunity to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. On the other hand, I’m heartbroken to have to leave my Iris family, the people I have gotten to know so well over the past few years and the women who have completely transformed my time at not only the Women’s Center, but at UVA and in Charlottesville, as well.
I started writing for Iris as an intern in 2016. I was completely uncertain of my writing and so out of touch with my feelings that I don’t even recognize my style in the first few pieces I ever submitted. I think back to that time and find it hard to identify with the person I was then. I was cripplingly self-conscious and eagerly trying to please everyone around me. My writing was a reflection of this insecurity, this need to be a person I was not simply because I wanted to fit the “UVA Mold” that I had idealized since I had first set foot on Grounds the year before. It took a lot to shake this idea that the perfect UVA student existed and that I could become them if I just did everything by the book.
The woman I am now is not the ideal UVA student. The woman I am now is sassy, sarcastic, and could probably get started on her homework a lot sooner but instead meanders around the aisles of Wegman’s because she needs to get out of the house and maybe eat a stale bagel at 11pm. The woman I am now likes to drive to Whole Foods and eat in the parking lot because for one hour a day she can be completely alone with a chicken salad sandwich and a cran-rasberry La Croix. The woman I am now is deeply disappointed that there are people in this world who enjoyed the movie Pulp Fiction.
I don’t belong to an absurd number of clubs, and I haven’t won very many awards. But after I stopped trying to become like everybody else, to become someone so disconnected from myself, I started to like the person that Iris was showing me how to be, and I started to love this school. My writing became an expression of this journey to reject the traditional and opt for a more creative approach to my time here in Charlottesville. It was my outlet, my platform where I could discuss everything from my skin to my body, from my romantic life to my family life. It was a place I could grow into myself and reject who I was during my first year. Iris has become so much more than a publication, but it was truly my place at this university, and to have had a space where I could be wholeheartedly myself at a school like this has been incredibly profound and wildly reassuring.
In this issue, we focus on those things that have shaped our journey, those things that have reminded us that we have survived every horrible day that has come before and found in it an aspect of our identity that makes us feel that much more whole. Maeve Hayden offers us thoughts on her favorite reads, suggesting that we take time for ourselves and rediscover our interests. Bel Banta guides us on her journey through the world of “Finstas”, commenting on the curated reality we have become so familiar with in this digital age. Elizabeth Bangura presents us with a story of patience in the face of social and academic difference, reminding us all that no space is completely safe from ignorance. Laura Hinnenkamp prepares us for summer in her piece, gearing us up for the exciting few months that lie ahead in the hope that we can relinquish our responsibilities even if it’s just for a short amount of time.
To close things out, I would first and foremost like to thank Mary Esselman, who started as the Editor for Iris the same year I came on as an intern. Without her, I would have been completely lost and probably just as unsure of myself as the day I first walked on to Grounds. She is the human embodiment of sunshine and one of the most beautiful souls I have encountered at this university. I would also like to thank all the interns past and present for allowing me to find a home at Iris. You are all such intelligent and compassionate young women, and I am happy to have had you in my life at one point or another. Finally, I would like to thank the readership for sticking by us the past few years. This publication has done a lot since I first started, and we truly have you to thank for supporting us through everything. So, with the fullest of hearts and the utmost love and appreciation for everyone who has made Iris what it has been, thank you and we’ll see you again in the Fall! (I like to imagine that this is when Girl from the North Country by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash starts playing, but really you can imagine any song you'd like!)