Dear Teen Me from author Kara Taylor (PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL)

Dear Kara,

Seventeen-year-old Kara as Doreen from Mad TV.

Seventeen-year-old Kara as Doreen from Mad TV.

You probably already know this by now, but approximately twelve years ago, on the eve of entering seventh grade, you and your best friend in the entire world broke up.

Middle School changed both of you; suddenly, it wasn’t cool for you guys to talk about how you dressed up as Spice Girls and lip-synced to “Wannabe” in her room. It wasn’t cool to talk about how you used to throw tea parties for your American Girl dolls or switch clothes when it was time to go home from each other’s houses and try to Parent Trap your moms. You couldn’t wait to go to Middle School because it meant going to the same school as your best friend for the first time—you never would have guessed that the very thing that was supposed to bring you two together would wind up driving you apart.

Kara at her prom.

Kara at her senior prom. She is still friends with everyone in this photo

You still don’t remember who stopped calling whom. But you’ll carry the immeasurable sadness for years—the feeling that you aren’t as cool as her sporty new friends, or the loneliness you feel as you struggle to carve out a place for yourself in the social strata of high school. Are you the “funny girl” in the high school plays that everyone thinks you are? You will never really figure it out. You are jealous of your ex-bestie, and her cross-country teammates, and how they float down their halls in their track suits like they have their crap together. (You now know this: It was high school. NO ONE had her crap together.)

And here’s the really scary thing that I want you to be prepared for: You will graduate high school with the ability to count your friends on one hand. By your senior year, you will realize that half the female “friends” you have left hate you. I’m hesitant to tell you this because there’s nothing you can do to change it, but a lot of their resentment is because you were a crappy friend. They pushed and pushed to pull you out of your shell; they eventually gave up and starting throwing around words like “hermit” and “too serious.” You would rather be at home with your dog and a book than smuggling beers onto the beach at night. You would rather do your own thing than sit around on a bed with your girlfriends and a stack of magazines.

Kara now.

Kara now.

For a while, you think this aspect of your personality makes you an a-hole. And I mean a while. You don’t shed the insecurity when you graduate high school. Your first year away at college is rough—you begin to think there is something wrong with you. Then one day you come across a BuzzFeed article entitled “Introvert Problems.” Every single one of them applies to you. You realize that every failed friendship over the years has resulted from your inability to own up to who you really are. You are an introvert, Kara. High School sucked because you are an introvert, and all those years you tried so hard to convince everyone otherwise. You had to be the “funny girl”, especially when you had an audience. But when it was just you and your friends, you couldn’t be real. You didn’t know how to be, because you were afraid everyone would hate you for it.

Now for the spoiler alert: Your best friend in the whole world, who you hadn’t spoken to since the seventh grade, comes back into your life your first year of college. You go to the American Girl place in the city together. You introduce your boyfriends, who are instantly best friends. You wind up seeing each other every week, and telling her things you haven’t been able to tell anyone in years.

And slowly, you come out of your shell.

St. Martin's Griffin, July 2013.

St. Martin’s Griffin, July 2013.

KARA TAYLOR is the author of PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL, available now from St. Martin’s Griffin. The sequel, WICKED LITTLE SECRETS, will be out on March 4th, 2014. She writes for Warner Brothers Television and spends too much time with her dog. Kara often still dresses up in embarrassing costumes.