Dear Teen Me,
Teen Vince in his yearbook!
You had another good game last night. Congratulations. I know how much you like to hear the crowd roar its approval, but you’d better get ready to hear some things that you aren’t going to enjoy very much.
Skill and courage on the athletic field are commendable, but they are short-lived and tempt you with a false set of priorities. You should enjoy sports as a way to stay fit, as a lesson in teamwork and, above all, as a way to have fun with your friends. This is why it’s called a “game.” It’s not real life. When you’re my age you will see that what you perceive now as a valiant and noble pursuit is only going to amount to a few faded photos in a yearbook. Roll your eyes if you must, but fasten your seatbelt because I’m just getting started here.
Because you have a problem with stuttering, you use sports to inflate your sense of self-worth. You want your friends to see you as a star athlete instead of as a classmate who is afraid to read aloud or recite in class. You want everyone to applaud your courage as you run, throw and catch, but what you don’t understand is that you can’t pick and choose your times to display courage. There is no on-off switch. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Vince Vawter (PAPERBOY)
Dear Teen Me,Let’s get the bad news out of the way:
Your acne never clears up. You try everything, but those nasty creams only dry your skin. Stress makes you break out further, so stop obsessing, which is far more unattractive than pimples. On the bright side, zits divert attention from the “wise lines” invading your face in your thirties.
Teen Daria reeling in a catch on Captiva Island, Florida. Yes, she’s rocking asymmetrical shades, and, no, nobody but her thought they were cool. (She also threw the fish back after her dad unhooked it.)
And you know how you can eat anything you want without ever having to move up a pants size? Sorry, but during freshman year of college your racehorse metabolism abruptly vanishes, and no amount of StairMastering brings it back. So beware of the cafeteria’s self-serve froyo machine…just because it says “fat free” doesn’t mean it’s low-cal. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Daria Snadowsky (ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND, ANATOMY OF A SINGLE GIRL)
I’m going to start by saying that I’m really proud of you because not many people say that to you.
You’re passionate about the things that you love (and also the things you hate.) You’re politically engaged enough that you’ll spend a Saturday afternoon marching for a good cause but also because you really enjoy shouting “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, Out! Out! Out!” into a loudhailer.
When you’re not being all agit-prop, you go to art exhibitions and French films and you buy too many magazines and rereread the same books and you let the music devour you.
I’ll tell you now that the good causes and the art and the film and the dogeared paperback fiction and the needle dropping down on the vinyl and that static hiss before the beat kicks in saves you again and again, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading Dear Teen Me by author Sarra Manning (ADORKABLE, GUITAR GIRL)
Yes, the calendar is for real. So is the gel-spiked hair.
Lock the door.
That’s the first thing I’ll tell you. It will save you three days of suspension, getting kicked off Student Council and Honor Society, missing the baseball playoffs, getting nixed from speaking at graduation, and mountains of embarrassment.
What am I referring to? Well, let’s just say that, in April of your senior year, you’ll go to Austin for a Student Council convention. As part of that, you’ll get to stay in a hotel. And while the rest of the Council’s at a dance, you’ll have dinner with your friend, then the two of you will go back to the room, and …
… about twenty minutes later, your Student Council sponsor will walk through the door you forgot to lock. Followed by a bunch of your classmates. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Sean Petrie
Dear Teen Me,
I’d like to hug you, even though you say that you hate being touched. (This is a lie, and you can’t lie to me, I’m you!) You know deep down you love to be hugged, to have an arm around you, to have someone squeeze your hand, but you’re too afraid to admit it. You’re afraid that the person hugging you doesn’t really like you. You’re afraid that you’ll start crying. You’re afraid that you’ll look stupid or pull away too soon or not soon enough or that their arm will get caught in your big permed hair.
Not to candy coat: those are all valid fears.
But hug someone anyway, would you? Mom. Dad. Jenn. Rachel. Store up those hugs, because you need them. Everybody needs hugs, but you need them more than most. I know that you’re trying really hard to be special right now, to be different, and guess what? You are! Just not in the way you want! Yaaay . . . ?
The “tantrums?” The insomnia? The black feeling that rolls over you and makes it hard to breathe? That’s called depression. And guess what again: It doesn’t just go away. Not when high school ends. Not when college ends. Not when you turn thirty. It’s your own little black raincloud, and it’s with you for always. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Jessica Day George (WEDNESDAYS IN THE TOWER, DRAGON FLIGHT)
You’re familiar with bullies. You always have been. A little on the quirky side, no one will really get you for a few years still. The truth is, people have a hard time accepting things they don’t understand, and you my dear, are original. Right now you think bullies only use words, but soon you’ll find out that there are different kinds of bullies. It’s going to be a hard road, but I promise—I swear—it will make you a better, stronger, and kinder person in the end.
You won’t see it coming—or know how it happened—but you’ll catch the attention of the wrong group of people. They’ll use lit cigarettes. You’ll tell your parents you fell and they won’t question it. You are, after all, clumsy. Stuff like this happens all the time. Bruises, cuts, scrapes—you’ll always have an excuse.
The burns are going to leave scars. In fact, you’re going to have a lot of them. Mental and physical. That’s okay though, because when you get older and look back, they’ll take on new meaning. You’ll see badges of courage—not signs of weakness. You’ll see the things that shaped you into the amazing person you were destined to become.
Some of the adults at school will know what’s going on. The science teacher will see them poking you with Xacto knives and touching you. He’ll turn away when they throw rocks during class. You’ll go to the guidance counselor. The nurse. Even the vice principle. They’ll call you a liar and say you’re only looking for attention. Grow a thicker skin, they’ll say. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Jus Accardo (The Denazen series: TOUCH, TOXIC, TREMBLE)
Dear Teen Me –
Right now, you’re 16 years old and you’ve just discarded a lifetime of classical fine art training in favor of your new Life Goal: become a corporate lawyer. You’re going to go to NYU and study history for undergrad, and go to Georgetown for law school and generally be flawless and fabulous all over the place. You’re going to emerge from your fat cocoon and be gorgeous. And because all the worst bullies you’ve ever encountered in life have been teaching your classes versus in your classes, you are never going to take shit from The Man again.
You might want to sit down for this.
I don’t know how to break it to you, but almost everything you want goes completely wrong, or doesn’t happen at all. You’re going to fail a bunch of math classes, not from lack of effort of willingness to try, but because you’re one of those lucky people who finds out young that there is just some stuff you cannot do; it doesn’t matter how many after-school tutoring classes you take or how late you stay up trying. You’re not going to get into any of your first choice colleges, and the less said about the summer after freshman year of university the better. You still don’t fit into a size zero, which is the new size six. You’re never going to be a lawyer — the closest you get is setting your DVR to record The Good Wife — and your inability to successfully navigate adult life is so well known that when you move to your newest apartment, our mom’s first comment is going to be, “Oh, good! It’s so close to the ER.” Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author & graphic novelist Prudence Shen (NOTHING CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG)
Dear Teen Me,
I’m only giving myself an hour to write this because I (you) have a book due at the end of the week (Your tenth! I know! You did (will do) it!) So, let’s make this quick:
First, the bad news: No Mars. No flying cars. And the prequels completely suck and ruin everything almost forever. There, got that out of the way. You okay? Oh, also, it’s never going to work out with Sarah (but you’ll learn a lot from trying).
Dude, there’s a lot I could tell you, but… the thing is, I don’t want to spoil any of the highlights (or corrupt your personal timeline; it’s a Dr. Who thing). You’ll have a pretty surprising trip, which in and of itself is a gift. By being the crazy dreamer you are, there are going to be these moments now and then where you feel the big empty universe spin into concert in a way that feels divine. And those are the moments!
Everything’s going to take longer to happen than you hoped. But don’t worry, there’s still a long way to go from where I’m at. 38 sounds like forever, but when you get there, you still feel like you’re just beginning. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Kevin Emerson (THE LOST CODE, THE FELLOWSHIP FOR ALIEN DETECTION)
Dear Teen Me,
You know that boy that you are certain is going to break up with you because you don’t want to go all the way, and you know you’ll just die when he does? Well, you’re wrong. Not that he won’t break up with you. He will. But you won’t die. You’re making the right decision. I know it’s hard being you. I know you feel as if you don’t fit in. Even saying “here” when the teacher calls your name makes you cringe. But don’t worry, once you find your real passion in life, all those insecurities will fade away. Someday, you’ll stand up in front of thousands of people and give talks. You’ll make them laugh; you’ll encourage them to believe in themselves like you have learned to do.
I know you think I’m lying because you feel as if you’re not good at anything. The one thing you felt successful at was gymnastics. So short. So limber. Then you got boobs in fifth grade, before everyone else, and you were too embarrassed to do flips in front of people because they jiggled. Guess what? They’re going to jiggle a lot more when you’re older. But don’t worry, gymnastics didn’t turn out to be your passion. And yeah, school is really hard. You feel stupid, and those report cards validate that. Well, when you’re an adult, you’ll discover that you’re dyslexic and you never were stupid. As a matter of fact, you’re a lot smarter than you think you are. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author C.C. Hunter (BORN AT MIDNIGHT, AWAKE AT DAWN, CHOSEN AT MIDNIGHT)
Dear Teen Me,
Listen very, very carefully. Go to your room, lock the door and write a book about a teenage wizard named Harry Potter. Set it in a school for wizards called Hogwarts, include magical wands, Wizard’s Chess and flying broomsticks. Do this before 1997 and send it to every publisher in the country. Now that you’ve stolen Rowling’s idea and are guaranteed of becoming a multi-millionaire, let’s get down to business.
So how are you? Worried about homework and exams? A little anxious about where life’s twisting path will lead? Worried about having legs so thin they can double as chopsticks? Well, let me assure you, you have nothing to worry about. You’re in for one fabulous journey. Continue reading Dear Teen Me from author Stuart Daly (THE WITCH HUNTER CHRONICLES)