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How This 18-Year-Old Magazine Founder Protects Her Mental Health Online (and in High School)

Photo: Ashley Thompson | Our Era| Well + Good Creative
Balancing life as a high school senior is complicated enough, but what happens when you have to interview Gen Z indie rock star Claud, or beloved Gen Z popstar Olivia Rodrigo? Those are the real-life circumstances for Lucy Ivey, founder and editor-in-chief of Our Era, a digital and in-print magazine designed to feature Gen Z creativity and resilience.

Ivey started Our Era early on in the pandemic when she was living across from a hospital. "I was watching it all, she says. "So I did this to distract myself. It didn't really distract me from what was going on in the world, but it definitely was a good outlet for me because I was so anxious about COVID,” Ivey explains. Now she's running an entire magazine—with impactful stories on mental health and insights into fashion trends—while wrapping up her last year of high school.

For Mental Health Awareness Month, Our Era has partnered with Instagram to highlight emerging Gen Z content creators who prioritize well-being online—but, make no mistake, Ivey is a force in her own right. We got a chance to ask Ivey about her approach to her Our Era workload, her reasons for starting the project, and how that relates to caring for yourself and your mental health.

Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Well + Good: You're the EIC of your own publication. How do you prioritize yourself when you're doing something so big?

Yeah, I need to be way better about this. This is my outlet, I love it so much, but I convinced myself that this is me. This is my version of self-care when, really, it's a lot of work. It can be self-care when I'm writing things that I love, but when I'm stressed out about different things that we're doing, it can be very, very draining. I love my work, and it's so much fun for me, but I definitely see myself getting burnt out every once in a while. What I do is spend time with my family, go on walks, read books, and consume other media.

I know I asked about how you prioritize yourself, but what are some things that you can always rely on to refill your cup?

Having meaningful conversations with like-minded people is really rewarding. It makes me very happy, it definitely refills my cup, and it makes me have hope for the world—that there are other people that care and want the world to be better. Yeah, conversations are really, really important to me.

"I think being able to decompress, stay off your phone, go read a book or go for a walk is so important."

What do you wish people understood about being Gen Z?

That's a hard question. I wish they understood exactly what we're going through because I don't wish the stress of being a young person in today's social and political climate on anyone.

It's really hard to explain to my parents. They have a pretty good understanding since they have three kids who are Gen Z-ers, but no one really understands it to the fullest capacity.

Are there things you wish that your generation had more of? Anything that you wish there was less of? 

I wish we had more forgiveness and understanding for ourselves and the people around us.

Less screen time, I would say. Our Era is very digital, and we care very much about that, but I think being able to decompress, stay off your phone, go read a book or go for a walk is so important. And, in an environment where social media is pervasive and often has diminishing returns, Ivey is learning to find the balance between social media and real-life connections.

If people could walk away with one sentiment from your work, what do you want it to be? 

If you have an idea, a concept, or something that you're really, really passionate about and want to do—just do it because you really never know how far it could take you. That goes with anything; it doesn't only have to be a creative endeavor. It could also be if you really want to go run a marathon or gain a social media following. I know I just talked about being less on your phone, but still, I think that's very admirable.

I really want people to know, one, that you can do whatever you put your mind to, as cheesy as it sounds. Two, that there are people out in the world who understand you, connect with you and are going through something similar to you. As hard as it may be, there are people in this world who understand exactly what you're going through.

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