Dear Teen Me,
It’s strange, what we carry with us from childhood. That awkward, overweight pre-teen bookworm isn’t you, not anymore. Yet you’re still carrying him around, unable to see yourself as you really are. When you walk through the halls, hold your head high; stop casting your gaze at the floor, afraid of confrontation, afraid that those yesteryear bullies will come knocking, ready to tear you down with cruel words and wicked laughter. Because here’s the funny thing: they’re afraid of you, now. Suddenly, you’re 6’2”; you’ve hit the gym, shed that 50 lbs. You’re fearless on the stage, in front of hundreds packed into that school auditorium, singing, acting, doing things most would never have the guts to.
Give yourself some credit. You deserve it.
It’ll take you years to smile genuinely when meeting a stranger; years before you stop thinking each person you meet will level some psychological blow aimed at breaking down your self-esteem. The greatest favor you could possibly do yourself is recognizing your own self worth. Recognize that you have something to offer, that your smile can brighten a room, that your jokes can bring laughter. Free yourself. Feel light. Feel happy.
And for the love of God, stop thinking so much. That manic monologue that whirls through your mind every second of every day isn’t doing you any favors. All it does is weigh you down with anxieties that leave you paralyzed, too scared to reach for what you really want. You’ll face your share of challenges, to be sure. Health, heartache, faltering friendships; these things don’t have to make you afraid to live; they don’t have to add to the mountain of baggage you’re already carrying on your back.
Let it go, Dan. Just let it all go.
Live in the moment, and be grateful for what you have. Appreciate your education, your family. Appreciate being accepted into your dream college. And cherish the people in your life instead of fearing some fatal flaw in yourself will make you lose them.
There’s only one person who’s bullying you now, Dan. You.
So stop. Stop it right now. Believe in your own strength; believe in the integrity of who you are. For someone who’s so conscious of the judgment of others, it’s incredible how little you see that a lot of people seem to want to be around you, seem to think you’re pretty cool. Embrace it. Be your truest self. Strip away the self-judgment; that’s the trick.
You don’t have to be ruled by the past. Know that you are becoming the person you were always meant to be.
Oh, and one last piece of advice…
Xanga journals aren’t private. And gossip spreads through high schools like wildfire. So when you start dating that girl—you know, the one you’ve had a crush on since the eighth grade—you probably shouldn’t put the details online. Because, um…yeah.
Born and raised on Long Island, NY, Dan grew up immersing himself in fantastical worlds. While other kids dreamed of being astronauts and cowboys, all he ever wanted was to be a novelist. Now, he’s living his dream. Find him at his website, Facebook, or Twitter.