Dear Teen Me,
There is something I want to tell you that it will be hard for you hear or believe right now. I’m going to tell you anyway because it’s super important.
You are beautiful. Just the way you are. Inside and out. You have a kind heart, a bright smile, and SERIOUS determination. People value you much more than you realize. Please value yourself.
That’s worth saying twice, but I know if I do you’ll start tuning me out. Probably you have already. So let’s lighten things up a little. Some tips from Old You, for easier traveling along your path.
1. Don’t shake off your mom when she tries to make you stand up straight. She’s not trying to be a pain. She wants you to have a little respect for yourself and your body. A gift from her to you, one she couldn’t give herself.
2. Try some meditation for that temper; it’s only going to bring you grief. (But if you can’t, on that day you get pissed at your dad and send your deodorant bottle crashing through the glass of your bedroom window, remember your brother is handy at fixing things. He grows up to be a mechanical engineer.)
3. When you decide it’s a good idea to call your mom and tell her she needs to accept Jesus because you’re afraid that otherwise you won’t see her in heaven, just … don’t. (But damn, girl, I have to tell you: That took guts.)
4. Don’t perm your hair. No no no. The chemicals are bad for you and it stinks for days. That hair is gonna be wicked curly someday. Just be patient.
5. If you strongly feel it’s a right of passage to get sloshed at the sleepover with Beth, promise me you’ll drink something classy. Or at least less nasty. Because you’re going to taste it twice.
6. The night you find out your boyfriend invited someone else to his prom, a nice boy named Jay is going to tell you that you deserve better. LISTEN TO HIM. In fact you are going to have more than one opportunity to choose a boy who is nice to you over one who is not. Always choose nice. Adopt a one-strike policy. You’ll thank me later.
Okay, serious again for just a minute, okay? Almost everything I’ve said, you can just forget. Because I want you to make mistakes. BIG ones. The bigger the better. I don’t mean risk yourself because you think you don’t matter, or let people treat you badly because you think you’re unlovable. (Yes, I’m looking at YOU.) I mean mistakes where you try something you think you might not be able to do, and you fall on your face. Or sometimes you don’t. Those things, whether they work out or not … those are the things that make you who you are. Those are the things that make you alive. And besides that, mostly they’re lots of fun! Try to be scared less. Failing that, those things that scare you, go out and do them.
I know most likely none of this is going to take. And that’s okay. You’re going to do great. Remember that dream you had of being a published author one day? Well guess what? And that trip to Ireland? Twice! Put ALL of yourself into those moments. Relax about the future and just let it all happen. I promise you, your life is something to look forward to. And I’d never lie to me.
A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include GHOST PLANET (2012), THE OPHELIA PROPHECY (2014), and ECHO 8 (2014). You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.