Dear Teen Me,
You’re running. You can’t stop. You run in the morning. You run at night. You run in the rain, the blistering heat and suffocating humidity. You run when your friends are out having fun. Sometimes they drive by and wave, and you wave back. But you never slow down. Usually you run faster.
You’ve never asked yourself why, have you? If you’re running to something, or from something? You only know that you have to run, that you can’t stop, that if you do—
Yeah. You never let yourself finish that sentence.
You think it’s for the team. You tell yourself you’re working to improve your time. That you want to be the best Cross Country runner you can be, to win state with those short squatty legs of yours. (Remember that time Coach made you try the hurdles around the track, while the varsity football team practiced? Yeah. Me, too. #cringe—LOL…one day you’ll understand!)
But none of those are the reasons you run. You won’t realize that for a long time, but I do. Looking back, I see it all.
You run because when you’re racing down the tree-lined boulevard you feel strong. You run because your perfect older sister never did. It’s your thing. You run because while you’re racking up miles, you don’t have to think about anything else. You don’t have to deal with your father’s disapproval, his harsh, cutting way of making you feel like you can’t do anything right. You run because no matter how hard you try, you never feel like you fit in with everybody else, and somehow when you’re out there by yourself, you don’t feel left out. And your boyfriend. You run because of him. Because no matter how much you don’t want to hurt him, there’s this little place inside of you longing to be free. And you’re scared. You’re scared maybe he means it when he says if you ever break up with him, he’ll kill himself. After all, one of your friends is already living that nightmare.
And yourself, sweetheart. You’re running from yourself, because you don’t think you’re good enough. You’ve never thought you were good enough. You don’t think you’ll ever be good enough.
Don’t believe me? Look what I found the other day, in a shoe box under my bed:
Are you here with me, or am I all alone?
Time passes slowly with no one to talk to, share my secrets with,
Help me smile when my heart hurts.
I get so sad, sitting by myself, apart from everyone else
I pound at the shell that surrounds me, the one that keeps me all alone, but it’s strong and thick, and I don’t know how to break through.
Give me a smile, an encouraging word, and I’ll give you the same, and more.
It may not be easy to be my friend, but please be patient.
Okay, so here’s the thing, here’s what I know. You may be running from stuff, but you’re running to stuff, too. You’re running to the same things you’ve been running from: your future, and yourself. Everyday you’re getting stronger, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. You’re laying a foundation, a groundwork. Your running is shaping you into the person you’re going to become. The path is there, and the path is taking you to some pretty amazing places. Hang on. Keep the faith. Keep dreaming, allow yourself to believe. I know it’s hard, but you have to stop letting other people define you, to tell you how to live your life. It’s yours. You get to define who you are. You get to define what you want. And you will. You are the author of your own life.
And finally, because I know how much you love Spoilers (okay, so no one calls them that yet. Right now they’re simply Coming Attractions), let me give you a few:
Your friends, especially Mareen and Kathy. The ties that bind are real. Some day they’ll stand in your wedding, and you theirs. You’ll hold their babies, and they yours. Along the way your hearts are going to get broken in some agonizing ways, but together you’re going to learn the amazing resiliency of the human spirit, the healing power of love, and the true meaning of friendship.
Your dad. It gets better, I promise. Oh, first you have to move five hundred miles away, but with time you’ll realize you have more in common than you ever realized, and, believe it or not, he’ll come to value the person you really are. You’ll talk. You’ll talk in ways you can’t even imagine now. Get this: you’ll tease him. You will. And there will be days when he turns to you, when he calls because he needs your compassion and your clarity. Sure, it’s not all sunshine and roses, but it’s good.
So that five hundred miles thing—it’s Dallas. You move and within a few months are at a party when you look up and see a guy. He smiles at you, and even though he’s across the room, it’s as if he’s feathered a finger along your soul. He’s the one, the one who’ll change everything. He’s the one that will see the you who’s always been there, but you never noticed. He’s the one who encourages you to believe in your dreams. You marry two years later, despite the fact he’s a Yankee
And finally, I know you can’t see yourself as a mom, but one day you’ll look down into the sweetest pair of angelic blue eyes, and everything inside of you will melt. It’s a whole new chapter, and it’s amazing.
Speaking of chapters…nah, I’m going to let that be a surprise!
It’s good, sweetheart. It’s real good. And it’s what you’re running to.
Oh yeah. One more thing, and this is important.
Don’t get a perm.
Most people who know Ellie think she’s your nice, average wife and mom of two little kids. They see someone who does all that normal stuff, like grocery shopping, going to soccer games, and somehow always forgetting to get the house cleaned and laundry done.
What they don’t know is that more often than not, this LSU J-School alum is somewhere far, far away, deeply embroiled in solving a riddle or puzzle or crime, testing the limits of possibility, exploring the unexplained, and holding her breath while two people fall in love.
Regardless of which world Ellie’s in, she loves rain and wind and thunder and lightning; the first warm kiss of spring and the first cool whisper of fall; family, friends, and animals; dreams and happy endings; Lost and Fringe; Arcade Fire and Dave Matthews, and last but not least…warm gooey chocolate chip cookies.
You can follow Ellie on Facebook.
Her next book, FRAGILE DARKNESS, is available from Griffin Teen November 27, 2012.
About the Midnight Dragonfly Series
Glimpses. That’s all they are. Shadowy premonitions flickering through sixteen year old psychic Trinity Monsour’s dreams. Some terrify: a girl screaming, a knife lifting, a body in the grass. But others–the dark, tortured eyes and the shattering kiss, the promise of forever–whisper to her soul. They come without warning. They come without detail.
But they always mean the same thing: The clock is ticking, and only Trinity can stop it.
Find out how in Shattered Dreams, Broken Illusions, and Fragile Darkness, available from Griffin Teen!