A Letter to My YA Self

Ginger @ Greads had a great idea: write a letter to yourself when you were a young adult. Give your ghost of teenage past encouragement, advice, and a pat on the back. I’ve been loving reading all the letters as they are published, and decided to play too.

Dear Alisa,

The year is 2003 and you are thirteen years old. You are starting high school in the fall, and right now you really really really wish your parents would let you go to public high school like all the other homeschooled kids are doing (do yourself a favor and stop caring about that. You’ll not care about it in a few months anyways). You aren’t stylish, you’re naive, and you’re nervous about joining the public school’s swim team a year before everyone else on your club team. Your family is hosting two exchange students this year: one from Japan, and the other from Finland. Savor these moments, and treat them with all the grace and kindness that you can muster… being a foreigner is really freakin hard, as you’ll find out after you graduate university!

Stop worrying about if your life is exciting enough, and wishing that it was as fun as the older kids’ lives. Trust me, in 10 years your hard work and courage is going to give you so much more excitement than you could ever dream of. You’ll break the habit of comparison by the time you’re my age, and you’ll be able to hear your inner voice, trust your intuition, and keep your mind happy and healthy. Start trying that now! (HINT: journaling helps.)

Spoiler, you visit Greece! Did you know that you'll have
to get a passport expansion because you travel so much?
Regarding your reading: I’m glad you volunteer at the library and joined a teen book club led by an awesome librarian (whom I now recognize must have been going through culture shock to be placed in that conservative Arizona town that is something out of Breaking Bad). The little scoops of insight that Chris gives you about the book industry, publishing, and YA books are going to stick with you for a long time. Yeah, shelf-reading is brain-numbing, but pay attention to your interests now, because they are clues to finding happiness in the future.

I’m so grateful that you read everything and anything that is vaguely interesting. You still will when you’re 25, btw. As Professor Jenkins will tell you in three years, hold on to your innocence. It’s okay that you have no idea what the “must-reads” are for certain genres, that you are oblivious to the word “trope”, that the YA section is complete hit-or-miss but your determination to finish books forces you stick with the misses (most of the authors haven’t really figured out teenagers yet… except for JK Rowling). All of these stories are going to make you a better person.

Speaking of Ms. Rowling, there is one thing you need to know, because it’s our biggest regret: break the rules and read Harry Potter. Break all the rules and read all the forbidden books. You have your own library card, a backpack, and your own room… like, hello, your little brother smokes weed and you are too afraid to read a book because mom said not to?

This is a key to one of the most important life lessons you have to learn: rules, sometimes repackaged as advice/approval, that restrict learning are rules that you should break. Adults are going to verbally try to stop you from going to university. Bosses are going to tell you that making such drastic life changes is bad for your future. When deciding between quitting a job and disappointing people or letting your education suffer, quit the job. Oh, and nowhere in the Bible does it say to not investigate, question, and analyze, so be wary of the church people that do.

Keep up the good work!


p.s. I'd post a photo of 13 year old you, but I lost all of them when one of your hard drives crashed and the other one was stolen. You'll get over that loss. 

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