1: Letter to a Younger Self

1: Letter to a Younger Self

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School

Introduction

Letter to a Younger Self

She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it).

~Lewis Carroll,
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Ten years after I was thirteen, one of my old teachers mailed me a letter I had written to my twenty-three-year-old self in middle school. The letter was full of silly things like who I had a crush on (much too big of a secret to reveal here) and how much I totally hated my brothers. After I read the letter, I wished I could write back to myself at thirteen. If I could, I would have these thirteen things to say:

1. Your Beanie Babies will end up in a box in your closet. (Except for the elephant. You seem to really like the elephant.) They are not a financial investment; I’m sorry.

2. Similarly, don’t get too attached to your electronic toys. They will be confiscated by a teacher who doesn’t understand that you can’t go a day without technology.

3. I know this whole changing schools thing is tough and you’re leaving your friends behind, but life has some amazing surprises in store for you when it comes to friendship. One of your friends from your old school will be your best friend ten years from now, and it’s definitely not the one you expect.

4. When everyone’s giving you grief because you’re holed up in your room writing stories, don’t pay attention. It will work out pretty well for you. I know you’re only doing it because sometimes your characters are the only ones you can count on to always be there when you need them. But that’s perfectly okay.

5. Both your brothers will cease to be so annoying after you all make it through puberty alive.

6. You aren’t going to marry your crush (or even date him), but that doesn’t mean you have to stop crushing.

7. This divorce thing isn’t going to get easier for a really long time, and I’m sorry about that. I wish I could be there with you, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. You’re going to go through a lot of this stuff feeling completely alone. You have to keep believing that it will get better. It’s going to get a little worse, and then, little by little, it’s going to get a lot better. You’ll all figure out how to be a family again.

8. It’s okay that you’re hurting. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t strong enough. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t there for your family. It just means that you’re hurt, and that’s okay. You deserve to feel hurt. Your family just broke and splintered—it’s when you pretend that you’re fine that it will hurt the worst and you will feel the most alone.

9. You know how you’re 99% positive that you know everything there is to know about the world? You’re wrong. (Now you only know 97%.)

10. Everyone’s going to tell you that the blue mascara is stupid, and when you’re my age you’ll laugh with your best friend about how unfashionable you were. But secretly, I love that you wore blue mascara. I like that you aren’t afraid of color.

11. Just clean up your room already. It’s going to drive Mom nuts for like, ten years.

12. You’ve got a lot of incredible adventures coming your way. You’re going to climb up a snow-covered mountain, walk through a rainforest, and tiptoe carefully on an active volcano crater. You’re going to fall in and out of love and have crushes and kisses. You’re going to get through almost ten more years of school and when it’s over, you’re going to miss it (shocking, I know). You’ll go to Paris, Florence, Scotland, London, and countless more beautiful, wondrous places, and you’ll meet more friends than you can count. Ten years from now, you’ll have a life that you’re in love with.

13. The whole thing with middle school is that you really are in the middle right now. You’re in the middle of your parents’ divorce. You’re the middle child. You’re in between childhood and tentative adulthood. You are right in the thick of pain, and heartbreak, and disappointment, but it was happier in the past and you will be so happy in the future. So hold on tight. There are some more obstacles in your way, some more difficulties ahead. It sounds unfair, I know, but from where I’m looking, the hardest stuff you go through makes the good stuff even better.

You are so much stronger, and more loved, than you could ever understand right now. So just trust me. You’ll get through.

~AC Gaughen

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