Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dear Teen Me

Zest Books, based in San Francisco, will release Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teenage Selves on October 31. Publishers Weekly has a thorough write-up of the endeavor, which is the collaborative effort of YA authors Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson. The book features letters from several popular YA writers to their past selves. The letter subjects range all over the map of teenage issues, from body image to abuse to friendship to love, with specific details about all the little things that make up a teenager's daily life. (The editors have a website with sample letters -- check it out here.)

Already on the market is a similar concept in the book The Letter Q, in which dozens of queer writers pen notes to their younger selves. The SDSU Children's Lit Center actually has this book in its possession; if you are on campus and would like to read it, please stop by Arts and Letters 218!

As so many young adult and children's books focus on the struggles of finding an identity as a teenager, it's fitting that these authors would channel their experiences into anthologies about what's on the other side of those angst-ridden teenager years. And since I love children's literature and often think about my own formative teenager-hood, I thought I would take a stab at it myself.

What would you say to your teen self?

Dear Teen Me,

I know it's been a difficult road. You don't like high school, because you were a new student at age 14 and everyone already had their friends established. There was no real place for a new girl, especially when you got all skinny and withdrawn. But if you're a senior now, you're doing okay. You always expected that you would pull through the lowest parts, and you have. And guess what? You're just going to keep on climbing.

You've got a handful of really wonderful friends who are going to remain in your life. And many years from now, you're going to be glad that you went to high school where you did, primarily because of these people. Your connection to your unexpected hometown is going to lead to meeting your husband, and he is awesome. And before you meet him, you'll meet some other good guys. (And, okay, some shitty ones.) The bottom line is that you're not going to be the only one without a date forever.

Your high school theatre experience will lead you to many more theatrical options in your future. One piece of advice: stop caring so much about having a starring role. You're going to find that it doesn't matter to you as much as you think it does. And that leads me to my next point:

You know how you read in that hidden spot in the stairwell during lunch period because you'd rather read than socialize? In the future, you'll find a balance between friends and books, but you're actually going to study books for a living. I'm not gonna lie -- you're going to be a graduate student and your living won't exactly be luxurious. But you won't mind, because you're going to be thrilled to feel like you're in the right place. Your bookish instincts are correct.

And remember that you are strong. You've already made it through the hardest part of your teenage years. College is going to rock your world, and eventually you're going to find your own little corner of the world to rock, too.


2012 Jill


  1. I Love it!!! - PFC

  2. Evidently today is the first annual "International Day of the Girl", and coincidentally I came across this on CNN: "To my 15 year old Self"...