Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves
Publication Date: October 31, 2012
Publisher: Zest Books
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: weight battles, suicide, LGBT, parental problems, rape, relationships
Format read: ARC from Zest Books at ALA (Thank you!)
Summary: More than 70 authors write therapeutic letters to their teen selves, providing advice or guidance revolving around a variety of topics.
It’s been almost ten years since you escaped the halls of high school, the ones that made you feel self-conscious and ugly. There was so much about high school that confused and overwhelmed you. You didn’t know how to stand up to be your own person. You wanted to impress everyone and strife or disagreements made you incredibly uncomfortable. Somehow you always felt that someone’s anger or sadness was a reflection of something you did wrong. You took everything too personally.
You participated in lots of sports – volleyball, basketball, and track – but you never felt good enough. You could never run fast enough, jump high enough, or shoot consistently enough. Despite trying your hardest, always, you felt the pressure to be greater. The summer before your senior year, you started taking diet pills. You thought that if you could just shed some weight and run faster, you’d be a better athlete and so many things would improve as a result of that: more playing time, camaraderie with your teammates, feeling like you were a useful part of the team.
All summer you dieted and the weight dropped off. You were barely eating anything. Your heart hammered inside of your chest. As a requirement for basketball season you had to go out and run 3 miles eighteen different times in the excessive Texas heat after volleyball practice was over. There were times you ran alone along those windy back roads and I can remember your heart seemed to stop beating sometimes. You would push through it, mentally telling yourself that if you could do this, nothing was impossible.
I wish I could tell you that losing weight made everything perfect. It didn’t. Your coaches did see improvement in your abilities, but you gained a sense of entitlement that left you even more hurt than before if you were benched. Being skinnier didn’t mean you had more friends. Your friends, the ones you had before you lost the weight, were still there and they were still the same amazing people. You realized that you didn’t want new friends. (Thank goodness because some of them, all these years later, are still good friends of yours. One of them is now your sister-in-law!) You didn’t become an all-star athlete. You didn’t gain scholarships based on your athletic abilities and you certainly didn’t get a modeling contract by losing weight.
There was a really awkward moment when your future mother-in-law (yep, you married your high school boyfriend!) discovered your diet pill problem. She begged you to quit taking them and listed all the problems they could cause. It was enough to scare you and make you stop. That wasn’t easy for you to do. You feared putting all the weight back on. You thought Dustyn wouldn’t find you beautiful. You were scared of what people (even strangers you’d never see again – people who probably didn’t even notice you) would think when they saw you.
I’ll be honest and say that your weight continues to be a struggle and battle for you. You’ve gone through ups and downs. My biggest piece of advice: learn how to eat correctly. Don’t be afraid of eating. You’ve lost a friend to anorexia. Eat fruits and vegetables. Figure out how to make healthy meals. Oh, and another thing: don’t fixate on the number on the scale. Dustyn will love you no matter what. He will be the best, most supportive husband a girl could ask for. He will always tell you that you’re beautiful, even when you’re not feeling like it.
Love is not measured by your weight or how skinny you are.
You have a big heart. You listen to people. You’re compassionate and empathize. These are things that matter. Don’t focus on trying to make people love you. Love other people. Be kind and considerate. Smile at strangers.
Never ever think that you’re not good enough and that your weight will change that.