Dear Teen Me, from Author Rebecca Behrens (FUMPED)

Dear Teen Me,

You recently read a terrifying essay in Seventeen magazine. It was in the “It Happened to Me” column, which usually has tales of kidnapping, childhood cancer, amnesia, etc. However this past month the topic was:

“I’m seventeen and I’ve never been kissed.”

That’s right, the writer’s eighteenth birthday is fast approaching and she has never kissed a boy. The editors of Seventeen are clearly correct to put that tragedy on par with losing one’s home in a fire, or surviving a plane crash, or finding out your sister is your mom. Only super weirdos get their first kisses that late in life. Super weirdos destined to a life of cat hoarding and Microwave Cooking for One. (I know you are precociously sarcastic, but just in case: Twentysomething You is being sarcastic!)

The article hit close to home because you’re not far from 17 yourself, and you’ve never been kissed. You can count the number of conversations you’ve had with boys on one hand and still have a few fingers free. That article, believe it or not, will linger in your mind for the rest of your teen years. It’s your benchmark for what’s normal, and what’s not. Getting kissed before age 17 = normal; getting kissed after age 17 = TOTALLY NOT. And you really, really, really want to be normal. This very particular worry gnaws at you, constantly. The clock is ticking now–will you become an uber-freak like that poor, unfortunate essay-writer and make it to 17 sans a peck?

Let me spare you several years of worry and angst:


The kiss-free period of your life will extend beyond your seventeenth birthday.

I’ll give you a minute to wail into your pillow.

But here’s the thing, painfully shy Teen Rebecca: It doesn’t matter. You won’t go through life with a scarlet B on your forehead for “Late Bloomer.” Friends in college won’t recoil when you say you never had a boyfriend in high school. Guys you meet won’t somehow innately know how old you were when you got that first kiss. They won’t care. Nobody will care, just you.
It’s really not worth stressing over.

I’m not going to tell you how or who it finally happens with. I won’t tell you when, either (although I will throw you a reassuring bone and say it will happen before you vote for the first time).
I will tell you that you turn out just fine and while you do love cats and are not opposed to microwave-cooking small meals, the Twentysomething You who is writing this is happily engaged. So there will be plenty of kissing in your future.

Instead of worrying about whether you’re normal and doing things on the same schedule as everyone else, why don’t you focus on what makes you unique? That’s cheesy, I know. (Quit rolling your eyes at me.) But the only thing you’ll regret later on is that you spent so much time worrying and not enough time enjoying your extended childhood. Read more books. Write more stories. Make more art. Sing. Have fun. Relax. Enjoy. The time you have right now, to focus on being yourself and developing into the person you want to be–not stressing about relationships or Old People Problems–is a gift. Savor it.

And while you’re at it, why don’t you write a letter to the editor of Seventeen? And tell her the magazine can kiss your un-kissed butt if they think the timeline of their essay writer’s romantic life is abnormal.

Twentysomething Rebecca