Dear Teen Me,
In these photos, you’re eighteen and a senior. The final days of high school are upon you and you’re writing goofy things in the back pages of each other’s yearbooks, such as KIT (keep in touch), and making big promises like friends forever.
You think you have everything figured out. You do! It’s so funny. You have a plan and you’re positive that if you follow it, step by step, your life will end up just like you thought. A + B = C. College, marriage, job and babies. You toy with the idea of being a writer and you’re going in the direction of journalism. Oh yes, a reporter! What a glamorous life you’ll lead….
But guess what? Nothing goes as planned. Oh, at first it does. You decide journalism is not for you after all, but maybe you can work in public relations. You transfer to the university you wanted to go to, then end up back in your hometown a year later. You move again, get married, and go to another university. You work at this not so great job with really great people. You quit college to have a baby and life is okay. Not perfect but it’s all right. It’ll turn out fine.
Then it all goes to crap and you get a divorce and you’re living in a city you said you would never ever want to live in (there’s a lesson in that—every time you say “I never want to *blank*” you end up doing exactly that, so be prepared). You’re working at another job, trying to survive, trying to make it on your own but it’s hard.
Just keep your head up. Your family helps you out and you make more really great friends who are there for you no matter what. You get a promotion at that place you’re working. In fact, one of the guys who works there? Who’s always so nice to you and at first is your friend? Yeah, you marry that guy and have two kids with him.
Your life is not the way you originally planned but ultimately, it’s so much better. Throughout the years you still thought about writing and even made a few attempts but you couldn’t finish anything. So you gave up. Life got in the way but hey, life is pretty good so you’re not complaining.
It eats at you, though. The dream to be a writer. You start to play around with words again and when you hear of a conference that’s nearby, in Reno, your husband encourages you to go. That’s one thing I’m going to say right now. You couldn’t have done what you’re about to do without his encouragement. He told you from the get go to follow your dreams and never held you back. Ever. He’s a keeper, that guy.
So guess what? Fast forward eight years from that first conference you went to and you’re doing it. You’re a fulltime romance writer, just like you always dreamed. Your career is going well but you get this idea….
And you decide to write something different under a totally different name and self-publish it just as an experiment. Your thoughts are, if it fails, no one will know.
Guess what? It doesn’t fail. In fact, your secret name turns out to be a much bigger deal than your original pen name (which in fact is your maiden name). Your Karen Erickson self is tremendously jealous of your Monica Murphy self because not only does Monica hit the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists, she also gets a book deal with Random House. Your books end up in Target and Walmart, which is just…crazy. It all happens so fast, within six months, and it’s unbelievable. Your career will turn into this completely different thing in 2013 and it will change your life.
In the best possible way.
So I’m going to tell you this, teen Karen. No one’s life is perfect. It rarely goes as planned and guess what? That’s okay. There are no regrets because if you regret one step in your life, it wouldn’t have led you to where you are now. Taking chances is what gets you far. Oh, and laughing. Laughing is good for you, too.
Remember that. Be strong girlfriend. It’s all gonna be just fine.
Monica Murphy is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series. She writes new adult and contemporary romance for Bantam and Avon. She also writes romance as Karen Erickson. A native Californian, she lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and three children. Find her on her website, Twitter, or Facebook.