I am confident that I have teenage readers of this blog, as well as of my books. Jenna Bacci, who had designed two of my covers, is 18 now. And being a teenager is not always a great thing. Hell, I cringe when I think of myself as a teenager. Awkward? Yeah. Very. Didn’t help that I had everyone and their best friend have an opinion of how I needed to be, and forget how I wanted to be.
Teen Week is a project that’s aimed at raising teens’ self-image, and I am glad to jump aboard. I encourage others to participate too.
I think a letter-to-old-self would do well.
And if you are a teen reader, and can somehow relate to this…then I hope this will at least bolster you a bit.
Dear Teenage, Fifteen-year-old Me,
If I could go back in time and hug you, I would. You don’t need to beat yourself up for things that are clearly not your fault. You’re doing the right thing, studying psychology. Don’t guilt yourself. There’s no time for that.
Also, cultivate your sarcasm. It’s what makes the world go round.
Now, to the serious things.
You have to speak out, and speak out loudly when you are wronged. “What happens int he family, stays in the family” is BULL. You’re already reaching out a little, but you have to talk to someone, now. Your school does have a counselor. Go there, go now, and to hell with what people think of you for seeking help. Get the hell out of your house, and often. You know it, but gather your nerve and do it.
Don’t let people discourage you from writing. Don’t stop watching offbeat anime and random movies. Don’t stop reading books you like just because people around you shove their opinions at you about what you should be reading. Write. Write like there’s no tomorrow. Write from the heart.
Don’t listen to your mother telling you how fat you are. You wear a size eight. Don’t be ashamed of yourself, and don’t be ashamed of being yourself. You’re a beauty, and you need to believe it. You will be heavier than you are now, but get on the path of believing in your beauty now. The older you get, the harder it is to believe.
Hold on to your grandpa. You love him, and you love him perhaps more than anyone else in your family. You won’t have him much longer. Visit him often.
That guy that you saw in class who stole your breath away? Drop the damn class and avoid him. You may like him, but he will never, ever stop being a selfish bastard. You think the world of him now. But he isn’t worth you. He has never been, and never will be, and will make you miserable for years. While you want to be in a relationship, don’t get into this one, or the one immediately after it. The wedding dress you sketched when bored in class one day is beautiful, but it will, again, not be worth it for you. All that glitters is not gold.
Don’t believe everything people tell you about things. Read. You like to read and you’re curious, so read about what you want to know. Facts and science never lie, and you know it.
Listen to the radio more often. You will, one fine day, hear something magical. It will keep you whole for years to come.
Most of all, teenage me? Know this: you will be the person you want to grow up to be. You are built of strong fiber, although right now, you don’t quite see it. What you have to go through, you have the strength for it to spare. Remember that yours is the gumption that people wish they had; you know how to deal with things that most people crumble and fall apart on. Regardless of what you hear from people around you, you are one tough cookie. Follow your soul, your heart, and no one else’s.
Oh…and don’t think so much about this place you’re in. You won’t look back. You won’t miss people. It’s change that terrifies you, and it’s change that you have to adapt to. But know this: you will not be looking back after a certain point. Don’t put that much stock in it. And learn that change, however jarring, is a very welcome thing.
The present you.