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You Are The One Who Will Break The Cycle

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 Jessica Vitalis, author of The Wolf's Curse, which comes out this Tuesday!


Dear Teen Me:

I see you. I see how you hide behind a smile that masks your pain. I see that under your confidence, under your determination, under your hard edges, there’s a scared and angry little girl––a girl who is determined to make sure she defies the odds. A girl determined to make sure she doesn’t end up in an endless cycle of abuse and poverty. A girl determined to prove to the world that her story matters––that she matters.

You don’t know it yet, but you’re on the right track. All of your hard work will pay off, and there will come a time when you will be able to take a deep breath. You’ll get an MBA from an Ivy League school, learn to sail and scuba dive, travel the world. Around that same time, you’ll meet a teacher who will challenge your notions of how the world works. You’ll meet a therapist who will help transform your demons into something more manageable. You’ll get married, start a family––learn what it is to love and be loved unconditionally. Over time, you’ll learn that life isn’t a battle—that you don’t have to fight for the right to exist. To matter. You’ll learn that your story is worth telling, that there are people out there who will listen.

Jessica as a teen

But in order to do that, you’re going to need to learn to be vulnerable––to feel the pain you try so hard to deny, to learn to sit with it, to name it, to let it go. To channel what’s left into stories that have nothing and everything to do with the inner workings of your heart. Right now, you believe that books are about events, about things that happened. You’ll write a memoir sharing the details of your childhood. And then you’ll write four more novels before you’ll learn stories aren’t about events––they’re about experiences and how those experiences shape and change us.

Once you understand that, you’ll transform your life into stories that are true not because they happened, but because they express the fullness of the human experience. Because you know that even though emotions are hard and messy, they’re what makes life worth living and they’re what makes stories worth telling. One day, you’ll let your armor fall away and you’ll embrace the grief, and the anger, and the hope and the healing, and it will all become part of your story.

Before we part ways, I’d like to share a quote from a soon-to-be-published author whose name you might recognize. In her debut novel, The Wolf’s Curse, Jessica Vitalis says, “Without the dark, the lanterns wouldn’t shine.” I know right now you’re too busy running from the dark to search for the light, but I promise you it’s out there, and one day you’ll find it.

You’re not ready to hear any of this––not yet. But one day, you will be. In the meantime, you don’t need my advice––you’ve got this.



P.S. Buy Apple stock!


About The Author: Jessica Vitalis is a Columbia MBA-wielding writer. After leaving home at 16, Vitalis explored several careers before turning her talents to middle grade literature. She lives in Canada with her husband and two daughters. She loves traveling, sailing and scuba diving, but when she’s at home, she can usually be found changing the batteries in her heated socks.


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