Dear Teen Laura,
I could stand over you (although I’m not sure I’m much taller than you) and demand that you stop being so dramatic. I might say quit taking yourself so seriously. Or enjoy every second of these years because things only get more complicated. But I know you. We’re actually not all that different. I know you wouldn’t listen. Plus, I have one, very stubborn four-year-old daughter who will be hearing my same lecture in approximately ten years, so I’ll save it for her. Payback’s a bitch and all that.
Here’s the thing. I know it’s hard. It’s still hard. We’re emotional. I’ve seen your poems. I get it. You’ll cry at the Broadway production of The Lion King, for goodness sake. But all the parts of you that you sometimes hate, you’ll grow into each of those. You won’t grow taller (See above. Sorry.), but you’ll grow fuller—post-baby-belly and all.
You’re pretty quiet. You prefer to observe and take it all in and sometimes feel like you don’t have much to add to a conversation. People will often ask you, “What’s wrong?” and you can say, “Nothing!” and actually mean it, but they’ll never believe you. You’ll slip away at parties just to breathe and sometimes feel like you don’t quite fit in, even after you’re married. But you’ll put your observations to good use one day. You’ll write about the people you watch and find friends who make you feel comfortable, who’ll never believe you’re the shy one. And then you’ll have kids who are really loud and a husband who can’t survive without socializing and you’ll learn.
You’re a sister. The middle sister to be exact. You’re not the smart one or the creative one. Dad loves Lisa and Mom loves Stacey. Lisa’s a bitch and Stacey’s a baby. Nobody loves you. But just wait. They’ll be your maids of honor. You’ll call them and talk for hours about the same exact things over and over and over again. You’ll love their husbands and their kids and it’ll take your breath away to think of anything ever happening to them. Be patient with them.
You’re a daughter. You’ll hold all sorts of things against Mom and Dad. You’ll wonder why Mom ever had kids if she hates them so much. You’ll let her down. Again and again. You won’t be the daughter she wanted. You’ll look just like Dad (but with hair) and he’ll see so much of his family in you—good and bad. You’ll butt heads because you’re so much alike and so different at the same time. And all of the sudden you’ll become friends. You’ll strive to be just like Mom as you raise your own kids and see so much of yourself in her (Are you bruised or bleeding? No? You’re going to school.) You’ll call Dad and ask him difficult questions and he’ll give you all the right answers. Be nicer to them.
You’re doing a good job. You’re laying the foundation and making mistakes and sometimes learning from them. I promise that as every year passes, you’ll look a little bit more complete. I also promise that these things take time and you’ll never stop growing. So when that guy in the lunchroom asks you why you’re so quiet with a look of disgust, tell him you’ll write him into a book one day. And take a good look around you. You might not see it every day, but you are so, so lucky. Your childhood is a happy place to be. In fact, one day you’ll curse the fact that you don’t have many personal experiences to write into your young adult novels. You’ll just have to get creative with your sister.
Dear Teen Lisa,
So you’re kind of an asshole. Really. I mean, you have good intentions. Sometimes. But mostly you’re worried about impressing the right people, looking cool and having the right clothes and the right hair. Sometimes you’re too scared to speak up when you see things going on that you know are wrong or unkind. You’re not always a good friend. You get sick of people easily and you’re terrible about keeping in touch.
You’re coasting in school because it’s easy to be an average student. And even though your guidance counselor tries to tell you that your first choice of college is a long shot, you still get in. You skip tennis practice to eat ice cream and a lot of other stupid shit.
You’re going to break up with your boyfriend and dissolve into a sniveling pathetic girl. The kind of girl you always swore you’d never become. Guys are going to try to ask you out on dates, but you turn them down and cry in your dorm room while listening to Sarah McLaughlin on repeat because you’re lame. And also you think you’re in love.
You’re going to gain the Freshman 15 by eating your weight in Papa John’s breadsticks. And then you’re going to lose it all. And then gain it back again. You’re going to get married too young and have babies too soon. You’re going to feel boring and alone and sad.
But I’m not writing you to lecture you about being a better person. I’m not writing to try to make you feel guilty for being a self-centered teenaged nightmare. I’m not even writing you to tell you to get off your pathetic ass and go make-out with some cute guys when your boyfriend breaks up with you.
I’m writing to tell you not to change a thing. Yes, you’re an idiot and yes you are making a ridiculous amount of mistakes, but all of those mistakes lead to some pretty amazing things. You’re going to learn to roll with the punches. You’re going to end up with a few truly amazing friends. You’re going to marry the love of your life and against all odds you’re going to love him more after 9 years of marriage than you did the day you said I do. And you’re going to have these incredible, gorgeous, ill behaved children who are going to fight constantly and inspire you to call your mom and apologize for being so awful while you were growing up.
So, please, continue to be a self-centered jerk. Learn your lessons and pay your dues because you’re not going to want to miss this.
Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters-turned-writing partners with a passion for good books, pop culture and Bravo programming. Not necessarily in that order. Lisa has always been a phenomenal liar and Laura loves to write angsty poetry, so writing for young adults seemed like a natural fit. The sisters live in Cleveland, Ohio in separate residences. Their husbands wouldn’t agree to a duplex. The second book in The Liar Society Series, The Lies That Bind releases November 1st.