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 Faith McClaren, author of Horror Hotel, which came out today.
Dear 17-year-old Faith,
I know you won’t listen to me no matter what I say — that’s one of the things I still love about you (me) — but if you were ever going to take advice from someone in your life, it should really be Future You. I literally know the future (unlike you, who only thinks you’re psychic.) So even though I know you’ve already decided I’m wrong, hear me out, just this once, and then you can turn Jimmy Eat World back up in the jeep, and drink your Sonic Slurpee, and go ahead and get that speeding ticket because you haven’t learned how to tap the brakes yet.
You’re about to start struggling. Hard. Every single thing you think you have figured out is going to turn out wrong. If I can be honest with you, you’ve been struggling for a while. You just don’t see it yet.
Or you don’t care.
The boy you’re dating will sweep you off your feet. He’s the lead singer of a band. He was your first real teenage crush. You really do love him. But he’s not the answer to your restlessness, he’s not the reason you’re here, and soon he’s going to break your heart. It will happen slowly, then all at once, and you’ll hold on to the daydream of him even when Dad offers you a car if you’ll “just break up.” You will lose yourself, little by little, until the pressure to keep going will make you finally want to give everything up.
You won’t go to a good college. You won’t even finish college. And even though right now you want to be Rory Gilmore, you’re frankly a whole lot more like Lorelai. When you take the SAT, you’ll do okay, but you’ll be exhausted from fighting all night with your boyfriend, and you won’t see how pointless it all was until way later. It will haunt you for years, and if you believed in regret, you’d probably feel it (but we both know you don’t).
You aren’t going to become a famous actress. You hate taking direction, as we now have established, and vulnerability of any kind scares you more than bungee jumping (which you will do, and you’ll brag about it for years). It’s hard at first to let go of that dream but hang tight because there’s a better one coming.
And this is going to piss you off the most (please don’t kick another windshield or break any more cell phones when you hear it):
Faith as a teen