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It's OK To Say "No"

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 Lynn Slaughter, author of Deadly Setup, which came out earlier this year.


Dear Teenage Self,

When I think about the total lack of sex education you received, I cringe. Sex wasn’t something your parents ever talked about with you. And at school, the sum total of your sex education was one session in a junior high health class that covered the nuts and bolts of sexual reproduction. I guess it’s not surprising that after you grew up, you became a comprehensive sexuality educator. You never wanted any teen to be as naïve as you were!

You had no idea what a healthy romantic relationship was or how to handle adults who sexually harassed you. You didn’t even know what sexual harassment was and were hopelessly idealistic about adult authority figures. You assumed all teachers, for example, were automatically trustworthy.

Lynn As A Teen

When you became editor of your high school yearbook, you were thrilled. You idolized Mr. G., the yearbook advisor, who was so supportive and knowledgeable. And you were a classic pleaser! So, after a few months, when you were staying after school to work on the yearbook and Mr. G. began asking you to sit in his lap, you went along with his request, even though you had a queasy feeling inside.

And when his behavior escalated and you ended up running out of his classroom to get away from him on the last day of school, you raced home and finally told your mother what had been going on. She laughed at the image of the elderly Mr. G. chasing you around the classroom. She thought it was funny.

But it didn’t feel funny. It felt awful and so disillusioning.

If I could go back in time and give you any advice, it would be to listen to those queasy feelings in your gut. When someone wants you to do something that doesn’t feel right and makes you uncomfortable, then say “no” loudly and clearly.

And don’t assume adults (or for that matter, peers who express romantic interest in you) automatically have your best interests at heart. They might, or they might not.

Above all, remember that giving in to others at the expense of standing up for yourself is a lousy way to live. You deserve better!

With lots of love and hugs,

Your Older Self,



About The Author: Lynn Slaughter is addicted to the arts, chocolate, and her husband’s cooking. A former professional dancer and dance educator, she earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Lynn is the award-winning author of the new YA novel Deadly Setup, among others. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.


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