Preteen Madeline, creek stomping.
Dear Teen Me,
The school year you’ll turn thirteen, Arnold Schwarzenegger will come to your school to stand at the podium to talk athletics and sports, about doing squats and building your pecs. He will wear a blue tee shirt with a fitness logo from the government. The hippy art teacher, who wears pedal pushers and black socks, takes his picture and gives him a middle school tote bag. Everyone applauds, even you, even if you don’t really know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is. He’s got muscles, bright white teeth, and wide, bunchy thighs. You’ve never seen Terminator, never watched his visit to Mars in Total Recall or when he puts the brain tracker in the Snickers bar and gives it to a rat. He might be at the podium talking crunches, mile run times, and aerobic calorie burn, but you slouch in the auditorium seat. You’ve never done a pull-up unless you had to, never thought a body was something that could be shaped, or that it needed tending and care. As you stare at his dark blue sweatpants, the dark sweat stains under his arms, his fists by his face as he flexes to show the audience his biceps, you wonder, is this guy supposed to be hot and if he’s hot, then what’s that in equivalent to girl? Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Laura Madeline Wiseman (THE HUNGER OF THE CHEEKY SISTERS: TEN TALES)
Melanie as a high school senior.
Right now you are 13 years old and about to enter a summer AP English program before High School. Yes, you are terrified to be in a class mixed with Juniors, Sophomores and soon to be Freshmen, but you learn quickly that, even though you are too scared to speak up in those first few weeks, it’s not so bad, and no one is looking at you and thinking you are stupid. In fact, you make friends easily, and discover that this class is not only fun but educational too.
Over this summer you contemplate all the things in your life that are about to change once you start at Roycemore High School. You’ve had the luxury of going to the same grade school since kindergarten, had the same friends all the way up until eighth grade, and now you are starting something fresh and new. You are both nervous and excited. You are nervous to meet new friends, and wonder if they will like you, but also excited to start over in a new place where you can sort of reinvent yourself. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Melanie Abed (The Anni Moon Series)
Dear Teen Me
So, you’ve 18, and after a year of almost no studying, you just got thrown out of uni.
I know you won’t believe me, but it’s possibly the best thing that could’ve happened.
OK, first problem, telling Mum. Well, she’s going to cry. I expect that surprises you. And you’ll feel really horrible, like you killed her cat or something. It’ll take you a while to realise, but she’s crying because disappointed for you, not in you. She will never be disappointed in you. So dry your eyes, and let’s talk about the reasons behind getting thrown out.
Well firstly, you didn’t put much thought or energy into the whole university thing, did you? You might not have noticed, but all the colleges you applied for began with A, B or C. I definitely remember there being a whole wall of prospectuses at Cambridge Library. Am I being too cynical if I suggest that you maybe you only took down he first box? Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Nikki Sheehan WHO FRAMED KLARIS CLIFF?)
Dear Teen Me,
You are seventeen and your life is about to change forever as you reach a major crossroads tonight. It’s a hot, humid night in June in the mountains of north Alabama, the old Cherokee town where you grew up. Owls hoot, fireflies flicker, dogs bark, and you can smell your own sweet sweat as a train roars past, whistling, behind Jack’s, the local burger joint. You’re parked here in your black Ford convertible watching the other teens circle the hangout in their cars, looking for action.
You are disappointed, hurt, enraged, because you just learned an hour ago that your girlfriend has been cheating on you. Her seductive scent of half-naked memories in the backseat of your car haunts you. You had had an overly soft heart for her because as a child she found her mother hanging in her closet, when she came home from school. But now your heart is so tortured that you want to call her a whore and beat the living shit out of the guy who has been sleeping with her, a guy who swore to you only last week that he would never do such a thing.
You fight with yourself, groping to find dignity, to find direction, as other teens continue to circle Jack’s, going in endless circles—just like your thoughts. THEN: You make a major decision. You will get the hell out of this old Indian and redneck village and run away from home. Yes, your will hit the road tomorrow morning while your parents are away visiting relatives. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Jerry Ellis (WALKING THE TRAIL, NATIVE AMERICAN THRILLER)
Dear fifteen-year-old me,
It kills me to say this, but you’re about to have the worst summer of your life. I’m talking the suckiest summer ever in the history of sucky summers.
Remember that physical exam you had where the doc said you had a slight curve to your spine? Well, it’s called scoliosis, and it’s about to get really bad really fast. So bad, in fact, that you’ll need emergency surgery to keep your ribs from crushing your lungs. Breathing is a good thing, so my advice is to go with the surgery. But fair warning: the doc breaking your back in several places, straightening it out, then fusing it together again and implanting two metal rods running the length of your spine…it hurts. Bad. Thus the sucky summer. The whole not being able to walk for three months thing isn’t the best either.
But here’s the deal—you will survive. You’ll walk again. You’ll even run again. I know it feels like life is over because you have to miss cross-country season your junior year, but get this—you’re eventually gonna run so much you finish a freakin’ marathon your senior year at age 16. Awesome, right? You’ll have those bragging rights the rest of your life, my dear. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Ilima Todd (REMAKE)
Teen Jess, the day of high school graduation.
It’s thirty year old you! Yes, I know. Thirty sounds really old to you right now. But despite what you think, thirty doesn’t actually mean dentures and walkers, just yet.
I could tell you a lot of things. I could tell you not to worry so much about how your butt looks, and to ignore that guy who said you could be hot “if you tried”. That guy was a moron. I could also tell you that a few of the friends you have now will be your friends years later, but they’re probably not the ones you’d expect.
But really, I want to tell you not to be afraid. See, I’m you. So I know that you feel like you never quite fit in.
And I know that you’re really torn about the fact that you want to. You still remember that time when you were invited to that sleepover with the popular girls. You sat there in your pajamas, eyeing the popcorn and flipping through a Teen Beat with J.T.T. on the cover, then one of the girls asked matter-of-factly, “So, who are we going to talk about?”
You couldn’t help but wonder, “Do they talk about me when I’m not there?” (Spoiler alert: they sure did.) Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Jess Keating (My Life is a Zoo Series)
You’re sixteen, at the end of Sophomore year and having a fantastic time. You’ve finally found a place, in school and life, where you feel like you fit. You have friends. You’re a dating fiend. You are in musicals and show choir and love to sing and act. You are having what you always believed was the ideal high school experience, but in a few weeks all of that will be ripped away from you, and I’m not going to lie…you really don’t handle it well.
Yes, Teen-Jenn sings. Don’t act so surprised.
Mom met a wonderful man, he’s perfect for her and she’s going to marry him. They’re still married this many years later, and you can’t imagine your life without him having been in it. Unfortunately, them getting married means ripping you out of the great life you love so much and moving you across the country to a place so different that you barely recognize it as a high school. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author J.R. Johansson (INSOMNIA, CUT ME FREE)
Dear Teen Me:
Brent at age 18, taking things way too seriously (as usual).
Spoiler alert: no one knows anything.
Hold on, you don’t know what a “spoiler alert” is, do you? That’s when you warn people before writing about a plot twist on the internet, like about a TV show.
Wait. You don’t know what “the internet” is either, do you?
This letter is going to be more difficult than I thought.
Back to my main point: a lot of people around you act completely confident they have some idea what they’re talking about.
Take the whole “gay” thing. A lot of people are currently making you feel absolutely crazy with the things they say about you and your gay friends. It feels totally disconnected from the reality of your life and the lives of your friends, doesn’t it? Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Brent Hartinger (GEOGRAPHY CLUB, THE THING I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW)
Dear Teen Me,
Katie as a very necessary reindeer in the high school musical.
You are such a sharp, passionate, weird, multi-faceted young person. A girl with big dreams and limitless energy and almost no fear. You wear ties to school; you sing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” with your friends in the hallways, loudly; you have a picture of Christopher Walken taped to the inside of your locker door. You love books and baked goods and Into the Woods. You are kind and stressed and complicated. You’re really pretty fucking cool, is what I’m saying, which is why I kind of wish I wasn’t writing to you from the future about a boy.
Don’t get me wrong—I know, intimately, the amount of mental real estate you spend on questions regarding your One True High School Love. Does he like you? How much does he like you? Will he ever like you at all? Will he ever like you enough? I know, too, that you’re a bit embarrassed by this obsession. I know you think to yourself, “Ugh, I am being such a teenage girl about this.” This is exhaustingly meta of you, and you should give yourself a break. For one thing, teenage girls rule. For another, these questions you’re asking—am I loved? How much am I loved—are questions every person asks, over and over again, for their entire lives. Teen girls are the only ones who really get shit for it. The sooner you stop believing the lie our culture tells you—that because you’re a girl, and young, your feelings and anxieties and passions are less valid and more crazy than everyone else’s—the happier you’ll be. Loving this boy the way you do, deeply and unrequitedly, doesn’t negate your previously established pretty fucking coolness. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Katie Coyle (VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD)
Dear 18-year-old me,
Teen Jennifer! (On the right, with the hair.)
It’s seven days after high school graduation and that thing you’ve been dreading for the past three months but never actually believed was going to happen is happening—your parents are splitting up and you and your mom are moving away. You’ll go to New Jersey in the fall for college, but for now you’re saying goodbye to Indiana and your friends and your dad and your dog and your childhood home and you’re going to get in the car with your mom and head to North Carolina.
She will be brave, but you should know that she isn’t as brave as she’s pretending to be.
You will seem brave, but you’ll be pretending too. For the first time in your life, you’ll wish for siblings.
That thing your dad instructed you to do? Not to tell anyone why you’re leaving Indiana seven days after graduation? Ignore it. I want you to find your best friend Joey and tell him anything and everything you want to tell him. Don’t keep it inside just because your father told you to. Your dad is a good man and you love him, but right now he’s thinking only of himself. You need to think about yourself too. If you don’t talk to Joey, you’re going to learn pretty quickly how to keep things in, and soon it won’t just be this thing or that thing, it will be lots of things, and you’ll continue to smile and smile on the outside, even though inside you are crumbling. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Jennifer Niven (ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES)