Each time I discover a contemporary novel, it causes me to reflect back on my own youth and how certain themes played a significant role in my younger years. All of this propelled the idea to write my own letter, and ask others to write a letter to their YA selves as well.
Over the next month bloggers, readers, and authors will be sharing their open letter to their YA selves. Please join me as we reflect back on our youths, recommend books to our younger selves, and share personal stories waiting to be told.
Dear Jen at 14,
High school kind of sucks, right? You're too skinny, those glasses are awful, and that hair! Blonde curls that won't flatten no matter how much product you put in them. I'm so glad you have a great group of friends to help you through the struggles of high school. Some of them are going to stick through for a long time, some of them will not. That's life unfortunately, things change, people change and it will no longer make sense to be friends with them. But a couple few will be who you need to survive life and they will become very big factors in helping you through.
Being shy is okay. Waiting to trust people before opening yourself up to them is good, but soon you'll find it easier to make friends and not worry so much about what other people think of you. Grade 9 will be the worst of it, I promise. You'll make more friends and actually get a boyfriend(!) and that first kiss you've been dreaming about, and even though you won't be popular, you'll be happy.
Speaking of boys though, Jen, your focus on them is too much. Life isn't about getting the boy, talking to the boy or flirting with the boy. The boy will not make you happy, only you can make you happy. The first kiss will suck, he'll try to stick his tongue down your throat and pressure you to do thing you aren't ready to do. Your second boyfriend will seem like he's the right one for you, but you'll realize you're only in it because you feel like you need a guy to make you happy. Never stay with someone because you're lonely, never. The third boyfriend will break your heart, but trust me on this, he wasn't the right guy. Now, the fourth one was a good one. But a guy who doesn't take you to prom and make you feel like a princess for a night is not worthy of your time. There will be more guys, more mistakes, but you will wait for a good one to lose your virginity to and soon you'll get to college and find the right one. He'll treat you right and you'll forget all those other boys even stood a chance.
So my wish for you is to focus on you, not these guys or what people think of you. Have fun with your friends, write lots of stories and read whatever makes you happy. I wish you had discovered Sarah Dessen in high school, because her books ring true to me now and I know you would have loved them. You would have loved The Great Gatsby and would have fallen in love with the 20s much earlier in life. There are great books now that I wish had been published in the early 2000s so you would have read them, like Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson and The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes.
You'll gain a bit of weight and it'll make you look so much better, people will not think you're sick anymore. You'll get contacts and it'll make a huge difference and you'll finally get that hair under control (you may even like it some days). So spend time with your family, make your friends your first priority and yes, have some kisses and fall in love and mend that broken heart, but just live, Jen, live life to the fullest and don't let anything hold you back. Keep dreaming those big dreams, because even though I'm still trying to get us published, I haven't given up. Thanks to you, I still love to write and love to love.
Everything is going to be okay, fairywings.
Lots of love,
Jen at 29