Dear Teen Me,
This is a hard letter to write because I know perfectly well you never listened to anyone. At age sixteen, you knew everything and nobody could tell you anything, not even older, time-traveling me. But I’ll impart my wisdom nonetheless, just as if you weren’t a cynical smart-ass, too wise for your years in some ways, but hopelessly immature in others.
First, I guess I need to tell you… that dream you had? It came true. I made it happen. Not without a lot of hard work and multiple brushes with despair, but the career is totally on track. And it’s AWESOME. When you made up your mind to become a professional writer, you really had no clue how tough it would be, how tenacious you’d have to become in order to stick it out. So go ahead and bask in this for a minute: You become a USA Today, NYT and PW bestselling author. Also? You definitely get better looking. So all the people who called you names and made you feel ugly in school? They probably aren’t aging as well as you. A few weeks back, I was on an impulsive vacation in Puerto Vallarta with my teenage son and the cab driver asked if we were a couple. Yep, so not only do you look young for your age, thirty years later, teen me, but you can also afford to head to the beach on the spur of the moment.
Which brings me to the best news yet. You make it all the way out of the dark. That means you become strong over the years. You take punches on the chin, sometimes you go down, but you always get up again. In time you find people who love and treasure you. So don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. Or you can’t have this awesome future where you’re surrounded by wonderful friends and family, where you have loyal readers who are addicted to your stories and write lovely letters to tell you so.
Basically, the only lesson I have for you perseverance. Don’t let the assholes get you down. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not smart or special. Push forward. There’s a whole lot of amazing waiting for you once you leave the tunnel. There is light, and in the future, I’m living in it. I know you’re hurting because I remember that pain. I recall oh-so-clearly how alone you felt your senior year and it seemed like nobody cared if you lived or died. But that’s not how your story ends.
Be brave. Push on. Don’t let the bullies win. You deserve happiness. And you’ll have it. Yeah, it’s a fairly long haul, but it’s worth the fight and so are you. There are hard lessons in your future but you’ll shine.
All my love,
PS – Don’t listen to people who say you must have connections or be related to someone famous to make it as a writer. Haters are full of shit, and they’re desperate to “reconnect” with you in a few decades.
PPS – Sharon Shinn is more awesome as you imagined, and you get to be friends with her. So Ajaja, FIGHTING! (That’s k-drama jargon, trust me, you’ll be crack-addicted to them eventually.) Press on, my dear geeklet. The road is long, but home is waiting for you.
I pledge to take a stand against bullying each and every day. #OneVoice
~ Ann Aguirre, author of Mortal Danger
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