"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dear Teen Me

At graduation with friend Barb.
I am recently read a book called Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves, edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson.  Most of the 70 authors included in the project wrote letters not to give their teen self advise on what to change but just words of encouragement about how everything will turn out OK. Each letter is written by a different YA author and all of them include a photo taken sometime during their teen years (hence the photo of me as a teenager.) Some of the letters really moved me because the author had really lived through some horrific events (bullying, rape, eating disorder, death of parent, etc.) while others just spoke about issues that weren't quite as serious (shyness, getting into college, friends, etc.) The average person reading this book would probably find three or four letters that really spoke to their situations. Acceptance, forgiveness, healing, and patience were overarching themes.

As I read the letters I keep thinking about things I'd like to tell my teen self to stop or start doing.  I added a feature to my weekly Sunday Salon post called "Dear Teen Me" where I gave myself a bit of advice to make things better for the me of today. I have compiled and reprinted these pieces of advice here in hopes that they may also speak to you.
Dear Teen Me: Remember how you keep cheating in Mr. Luarca's typing class by sneaking a look at your fingers while you type? Stop it! Don't peek anymore! Keep on practicing the skill of typing without looking at your fingers.  You will not believe how much typing you will be doing in the future and you will be grateful everyday that you mastered the skill of typing without looking at your fingers. Help me out. Stop looking at your fingers even though you are just learning to type. The skill is more important than the grade.
Dear Teen Me: In a few days you will break up with your 9th grade boyfriend, DB. It will be very hard on him and he will do an alarming thing: he and his friends will hang a dummy from a noose from the edge of the school building dressed in his clothes, to make it look like he committed suicide over your break up. It is not your fault that he is so distraught, nor is it your fault that he did something so inappropriate. But this time I want you to tell an adult what happened and what you know instead of keeping it to yourself. You see, as an adult DB does commit suicide. In his 30's his suicide is completely unrelated to you but you will wonder IF you had done something earlier he may have gotten some help and wonder whether it would have saved him in the future. I have thought many times if I had said something to an adult back in 9th grade things could have changed for him. Trust me on this one. You don't want this burden. Talk to an adult who can help.
Anne: Hold in your head how much fun it is to play tennis and eventually racquetball. Right now you enjoy playing tennis with your brother and several other friends. Why don't you go out for the tennis team. You won't be a champion but you could have a hoot playing with other people and gaining more friends. Your first year in college you will take a tennis class which really hones your skills. Your second year you take a racquetball class and playing it becomes an obsession for several years. Keep it up. Remind yourself everyday that these are two sports you can do as you age. Make sports and fitness a part of your daily routine.
Dear Teen me---in a few years you will follow a diet craze which centers around eating only low-fat foods. It will be a very popular diet nationally. Everyone will talk about the virtues of eating low fat without good science behind the effects of such a diet on metabolisms. It also involves using artificial ingredients, bad oils, and lots of preservatives. Please, please, please do not follow the mob. Avoid this diet at all costs.  Eat healthy, natural ingredients. Explore your taste pallet and learn to eat a variety of healthy foods.  Just eat less if you want to lose weight. Saturated fats are not the enemy...avoid trans fats.  Look into it! Trust me on this one and you will feel a whole lot better.
Dear Teen Me- Boys. Let me tell you that you will have your heart broken a few times. Learn from your experiences and you will eventually meet a man who treats you the way you deserve to be treated. I'm married to him right now. Don't ever do things for or with boys that will diminish your own self-worth. And when the break-ups do come just love yourself. Don't worry, you will be OK.
Horsing around with friends Lori and Andy

What would you tell your teen self if you could go back and have a talk? Leave a comment here on my blog. 

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