Dear Teen Me from author Sarah McCarry (ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS)

Teen Sarah!

Teen Sarah!

Listen, sweet pea:

I’m not going to tell you anything about the future or the past, or the good ideas you’ll have or the bad ones. I’m not going to tell you how the years between us will spell out one after the other, through places bright and dark, through all the wide mystery of the world. You, brave and glorious thing, you hellraiser, you walking wound, you holy terror, I give you this: know you are taking the first steps toward a life lived without regrets.

And what you’ll learn how to do is say yes: yes to let’s jump, yes to why not, yes to let’s run away, to let’s stay. Yes to fire and bad decisions and late wild nights, yes to all the things that will make you the person you are choosing to become. All of what I am now I see in you, you lost and wide-eyed, mean-mouthed girl–you’ll let that go, except when you need it, you’ll learn the shape of compassion, and how love will alter the shape of your own heart for the better, for the bigger; but right now you’ll need the weapon your words can become, the anger burning bright within you that will keep you alive.

Grown-up Sarah.

Grown-up Sarah.

I won’t tell you the time ahead will be easy but I can tell you this: that here and there you will find places like little miracles, stitched into the skin of your life with a glittering thread. Open map on a truck hood, hot sun overhead, the forest all around you, realizing even as you are lost that you are also falling in love; moon setting in the open ocean, night sky wild with stars; drinking a bottle of champagne on a cliff at the edge of the world. Sometimes you’ll be tired and sometimes you’ll be fearless and sometimes you’ll be both; and always, always, you’ll be loved, and don’t you forget it. And always, at the end of every long night, at the beginning of every day, you can say this: This is the life I made, this is the life I wanted, this is the life that’s mine. I’m proud of you, I’m proud of us.

But if there’s one real thing I wish I could tell you: Don’t give away your Soundgarden shirts.

I love you–


St. Martin's Griffin, July 2013.

St. Martin’s Griffin, July 2013.

Sarah McCarry was born in Seattle and lives in New York. She is the author of the novels ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS and DIRTY WINGS (July 2014), and the editor and publisher of Guillotine, a chapbook series dedicated to revolutionary nonfiction. She still has a fondness for bad decisions. Find her online here: