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Be Nicer To Yourself (And Everyone Else)

The letter below is part of an ongoing series featuring letters from authors to their teen selves. If you're a published author who'd like to participate in this series, we'd love to have you. Just click here and let us know you're interested. Today's guest is Katharyn Blaire\, author of Unchosen.


Dear Teen Katie,

I want you to know something. You’re going to have to turn down the Evanescence if you’re going to hear me, though. Just hit pause on your slate-gray Walkman for two seconds, okay?

Things haven’t been easy, these past few years. It hasn’t been easy ever, really, if we’re going to be honest. I know you don’t tell anyone how scared you are, and how you stay up late and drive to Holy Name of Mary and sit in the pews in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep. I know you feel really out of place, here, and it’s starting to hurt. High school feels like an ocean with no horizon, no edges to even long for. I promise you, it’s not.

It’s the start. It’s the train platform. The runway. It’s the beginning of the tale you hope you’re living, and it’s even better than you think. You were right. Every night you prayed that the hell you were living would at least have a point. It does. You’ll have scars, but you’ll also have the experience you need to see things others can’t. That doesn’t make it better. I just thought you should know.

I want you to know a couple of things. Just a few words of wisdom from the you that’s done this, now.

Teenage Katharyn

It’s okay to be mad at God, right now. He’s not going anywhere. Just keep reading and questioning. You’re going to find out some pretty cool stuff.

That story sense you feel – the one that seems overwhelming, sometimes? The part of you that sobbed when you read A Sweet, Far Thing and still needs several hours after The Two Towers to process all your emotions? It’s not silly. It’s not stupid. You’re going to hear “it’s just a story” a lot over the next few years, and I want you to fight like hell, with everything you have, to never let it hit you where it can sink in. I can’t tell you everything, my girl, but I would tell you this. You have been through so much in your small life, but there’s more to come. You’ll go places you never thought you’d be – you’ll sleep in a chicken coop on the Rio Coco. You’ll share a hostel with a bunch of amiable, drunk Irishmen in Edinburgh. You’ll climb the Duomo di Milano in the middle of a thunderstorm. You will fall in love in such unexpected places. Your heart will be broken more than once. You’ll love deeper than you know is possible, and you’ll see death you don’t think you can bear. You’ll face a kind of fear that feels like liquid dark that seems like it will swallow you whole. And through all of it, story will feel more real than anything. There’s no such a thing as “just” a story. The more of the world you see, the more you’ll realize that.

So much will change, Katie. You will marvel at how much will change. But your heart is the same. The part of you that sobbed at My Girl when you were seven will sob at Jojo Rabbit when you’re thirty-one. Listen to that story sense. God gave it to you for a reason. Don’t give it up for anything. Writing is never silly. Even the stuff that you will read in ten years and roll your eyes at serves a purpose.

A couple quick things, now, since I don’t have long: that boy you think you love? Don’t worry when you realize you don’t. Things will be okay.

Stop making fun of your hometown so much. You’re gonna look really stupid when you wind up living two doors down from your parents and shopping at the same Target you’ve been going to your whole life. This town is lovely, you’re just being angsty.

Chill out on the metallic blue eyeshadow. Unclench your jaw. Stop being mean to yourself. And everyone else. People are doing their best. And when you run into a boy in Germany who lets you steal his notes for class and sings along to The Sound of Music loudly and without embarrassment – ask him his name. He’s a good one.

Okay. That’s it. You can go back to Evanescence, now. I have nothing to say about that – they will be on your Spotify Wrapped in 2020 because they’re flawless.




About The Author: Katharyn Blair is the author of Unchosen and The Beckoning Shadow. She lives in LA, where she drinks way too much coffee. She's obsessed with glitter and Dean Winchester. She's also got a lot of pets, including a dog named Cricket.


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