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Finding Friends

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 Tracy Badua, author of We're Never Getting Home, which comes out this Tuesday.


Dear Teenage Me,

Freshman year, you looked for a place to sit and for friendly people to talk to and hopefully hang out with at lunch. That was daunting. You barely knew anyone at the school, and throwing yourself into a new social environment – at any time—can be intimidating when everyone seems to already know each other from previous schools or sports clubs.

But you did it. You found some kind, smart friends, and you spent the next few years having lunch, choosing classes, commiserating, and celebrating. Then, all of a sudden, you were talking about the different colleges and jobs you were all heading off to. It was exciting: you were all leveling up in independence (and intelligence! Look at you, you high school graduates, you!).

Tracy as a teen

But one of the things that won’t hit any of you right away is how graduating high school will be like being swept out from a calm bay into the wider ocean. (I know, high school feels like the opposite of calm, but stick with me on this analogy). Sure, some people will ride the current together, but you may find yourself in unknown waters, across cities, states, countries that have zero familiar faces in them. The friends you spent most of your day with are suddenly no longer part of it.

You will have to look for a place to sit and for friendly people to talk to and hopefully hang out with at lunch all over again. And it may be harder this time – you may not be forced into the same close quarters that come with similar schedules, or you may struggle to find shared ground right away.

I know the thought of this is intimidating, just like it was that first day of freshman year. And I hate to break it to you, but this won’t be the last time you’ll have to do this either: the rest of your life will be spent being thrown into unknown waters.

But this is Future-You butting in to tell you that you won’t sink. You’ll swim. You’ll get used to the initial shock of the water and, eventually, you won’t dread jumping in as much.

Why? Because you are going to meet a lot of wonderful people in the future. Many of the people who you share a meal, a library table, or a bus ride with have the potential to make lasting, positive impacts on your life. You might not have the same list of friends that you did in high school unfortunately, but your list will actually grow. You’ll find and keep people who you can reach out to after weeks, months, or even years apart and it’ll be like that fun conversation full of shared history and inside jokes never ended.

So I hope you don’t approach the end of the school year too worried about what the future holds for you and your friends. This is a time to be excited, together. Celebrate everything you’ve accomplished, dream about what’s soon to come, and don’t forget to sign each other’s yearbooks.

Your friend,

Future You


About The Author: Tracy Badua is an award-winning Filipino American author of books about young people with sunny hearts in a sometimes stormy world. By day, she is an attorney who works in national housing policy, and by night, she squeezes in writing, family time, and bites of her secret candy stash. She lives in San Diego, California, with her family. Her newest book, We’re Never Getting Home, comes out Tuesday.


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