Dear Teen Me from author Crissa-Jean Chappell (TOTAL CONSTANT ORDER, NARC, MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH)

Dear Teen Me,

Right now, you’re stuck in Mr. Berry’s class, learning about cell division (actually, it’s kind of cool). The boys in the back row are flicking staples at your head. The room smells like formaldehyde and cut grass (somebody’s mowing the lawn). You want to run outside, but you’re trapped at your desk. There’s only way to survive this day. You grab a Sharpie and doodle in the edges of your notebook.

magic eight ball


1. Will I ever get out of here?

Answer: “Outlook good.” I know it probably seems like you’ll never escape from high school (“a black hole in space,” as you call it). But it gets way better in college. You’ll study your two most favorite things–film and literature–in Paris, Prague, and London. you’ll move to Brooklyn, New York. Of course, you’ll be flying back and forth to Miami. It will always be in your heart.

new city new wardrobe

2. What will I look like in the future?

Answer: “Cannot predict now.” Let’s be real. You’re always hiding behind your long hair. Secretly, you want to chop it all off. And one day (actually, during your studies abroad) you will rock a pixie cut.

hiding behind my hair

3. I have a boyfriend in the future, right? (please say yes)

Answer: “Signs point to yes.” I’m not going to lie. It will take a few more years before you meet the right boy. Don’t go looking for him. Because you won’t recognize him at first. No, it’s not Mr. Darcy. It’s someone even better…because he’s the real thing.

no such thing as the future cat

4. My dream of becoming a writer….does it come true?

Answer: “Yes.” Guess what? You are already a writer. All those stories you’re scribbling during Biology class. The endless novels about elves and sorcery that you saved on floppy discs. Well, that won’t be the stuff you finally publish. Yeah, you’re into epic Tolkien-esque fantasy now. But you’re actually going to write books about people in high school. So take notes (I bet you’re already doing that). And don’t give up. It’s going to be a long road….and totally worth it.

writing pencil

5.  So the future is a little different from what I expected…

Answer: “As I see it, yes.” Don’t worry. You’ll check off everything on your secret wish list (yes, I know about that list). But it won’t happen EXACTLY the way you imagined. And maybe not as quickly as you’d like (still working on being patient, huh?) In many ways, it’s even more awesome.

hurry up future cat

Grown-up Crissa!

Grown-up Crissa!

Okay. Right now, you’re trying to survive another class. It’s hard to picture the future. Every day is a struggle. Just walking to your locker feels like a battle zone. But you will get through it. Trust me.

PS: Don’t throw away your doodle-infested notebooks. One day, they will come in handy.


The Future

Flux Books, January 2014.

Flux Books, January 2014.

Crissa-Jean Chappell was born in Miami, Florida and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her debut novel, TOTAL CONSTANT ORDER (HarperTeen) is a NYPL Book For The Teen Age, a Florida Book Award medalist, and a VOYA Perfect Ten. MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH (Flux) is her most recent novel, which Kirkus calls, “compelling and emotionally nuanced.” Chappell holds an MFA in screenwriting and a PhD in interdisciplinary studies. She has taught creative writing and film classes for over ten years. When she misses her home in South Florida, she talks to the wild parrots in Prospect Park.