My So-Karen Life – The New York Times


We were inseparable for years. Now, we do not speak. What other possible fate is there for an Emily who wants to be an Alexandra, and a Sarah who wants to be an Emily? I blame our end of our friendship on the Karen world. She could deal with it, but I could neither stop hating it nor ignore it. I was mad at her for being able to inhabit the Karen world. She could deal with it, and I, who could neither stop hating it nor ignore it, was jealous of this. And she was just mad at me for the way I am. Sarahs are entertaining but we are also unbelievable jerks.

After college, I moved to Manhattan. After about a week of seeing lots of other women from around the world, particularly more women who were not white women, I realized that essentially all the women I had so carefully divided were almost identical.

Sure, the Karens wore black overcoats and Emilys wore bright ones and the Sarahs wore shearling denim and the Alexandras were all drowning in scarves. But these were just costumes. We all spoke in a manner that was sort of pre-annoyed, and a way of holding our heads in public that said “this is how you hold your head.”

Aura-wise, we were clones.

But still, we are not Karens, the Karens that have now proudly taken their place in the center of the world stage, the policewomen of all human behavior. All non-Karens of all ages should be on the lookout for Karens — mocking you when you ask for a raise, cutting your best jokes, shaming you for losing your lanyard — and their assaults on our happiness, selfhood and freedom.

Because I know that Karens are going to Karen. They are unstoppable. All they see are open doors. We should blame the Karens, but maybe we should we blame the doors too? Incidentally, all Karens love The Doors, because they were a little rebellious, but not to the extent that they failed to achieve mainstream success.

Sarah Miller is a writer who lives in Nevada City, California.

Rites of Passage is a first-person column from Styles about notable life transitions and events, big, small and absurd.


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