August 30, 2013

Collective: The Wandering

The Wandering gives a unique peek into the teenage girl's brain. 

Am I the only one who feels like my creativity peaked during my teenage years? During my high school days I would spend hours filling journals with everything from short stories to random thoughts. But by the time I went to college, I had to spend so much time writing paper after essay after article that there wasn't any room left in my brain for imaginative thoughts. Gone were the days of my moleskines brimming with collages that I made on Diana's basement floor, and instead they were replaced by the occasional doodle or poem scrawled in the margin of a class notebook. But maybe this wouldn't have been the case if there had been a motivation for me to keep my creative outflow consistent (my suburban New Jersey town wasn't exactly a thriving art hub). What was missing was something like The Wandering, which I came across through some Internet exploring and wished that it had only existed a few years ago. The Wandering is a collective that features the writings, art, and photography from teenagers across the world. Browsing through the pages of the Tumblr's collective, you're exposed to everything from poems about unrequited crushes to a picture of Joni Mitchell over pieces of pizza to photos of jelly sandal encased feet. It's the physical manifestation of the teenage girl's mind, which is so complex but often highly overlooked in mainstream media.

The Wandering is the brainchild of 17-year-old high school junior Eva, who started the collective in January of this year after realizing there weren't very many places for younger girls to submit and showcase their work. While the Internet has made sharing art much easier, there is still a level of exclusivity that comes with many collectives, which can be intimidating and more difficult to get your work featured the younger you are. This realization gave Eva the idea to start her own collective, which she named after her own blog (Style Wandering) and her perspective on life as a teenager. "I wanted the name to represent teendom, and I feel that teenagers are constant wanderers," Eva says. "We are constantly exploring, discovering, changing, developing, and questioning all in hopes of stumbling upon who we are along the way. I think the word 'wandering' envelops this notion very well, and symbolizes the entire pilgrimage that will inevitably lead to the discovery of our identity". 

The collective grew out of friends that Eva had made over time from blogging to a wide list of contributors. The contributors come from literally all corners of the world and have grown into a community of girls (and a few boys) that are able to help each other through the ups and downs of teenage life. Eva notes that she created a Facebook group so the contributors could connect with each other over silly things in life, like celebrity gossip and crushes, to the more difficult and taboo, such as periods and sex. But even just from browsing the site, it's evident that The Wandering has given girls an outlet where they feel comfortable to share and discuss the intimate parts of their life that would normally be confined to a journal. Eva made it a point to create a collective and foster a community where girls were encouraged to do this. "I think it is imperative that as teenagers we are able to ask questions, express ourselves, rant about things that bother us, rant about things that we love, obsess over people, books, and places, and address issues of all kinds," Eva says. "I'm glad I've been able to cultivate a space as well as a group of young women who are so supportive and encouraging of one another. The reason The Wandering is such a strong, diverse collective is because of the people who contribute to it, because they have the power to shape it with the work they submit. I'm lucky that the girls who contribute to the collective have shaped it into something really expressive of female teendom."

Check out more from The Wandering here

Written by Emily Thompson