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You Deserve Love And Happiness

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 Victoria Ying, author of Hungry Ghost, which comes out next week.


Dear Vicky,

I know you like to be called that now, but someday you’ll appreciate your weird old lady name, Victoria.

And I guess that’s a lesson in itself. There are things about you that you struggle to accept or acknowledge because they make you feel uncomfortable. That’s okay, you’re going through a lot and trying to figure out who you are. Trying on new identities is part of that, and what the hell, it’s kind of fun when it doesn’t suck so much.

Victoria as a teen

What does it mean to “be yourself?” I know that advice never made any sense to you, but if I can share one thing from the future it’s this: never be embarrassed about what you like. You don’t need to fit anyone else’s idea of what a smart girl is, or a cool girl, or a perfect daughter. There’s no amount of reading “the right” books or watching “the right” movies that will make you acceptable to everyone, so just do the shit you like, wear your hair how you want, experiment with makeup styles, and do whatever makes you happiest. Everything else will fit into place once you can learn how to embrace the stuff that makes you unique.

It’s going to feel like there are so many gatekeepers to happiness, but the only person you need to please is yourself. One day, your deeply personal work will be what resonates the most with people, but you can’t make it until you allow yourself to be sad and angry. Pushing those feelings down and pretending they don’t exist will seem like it works for a while — until it doesn’t.

Victoria as a teen

There’s so much for you out there, so much love, joy, meaning, and purpose. At first, you’ll struggle to see it all because you’re working too hard to prove that you’re lovable, but know this, you deserve to be loved outside of your achievements. Anyone who makes you change into what they want, or makes you question if you’re good enough, isn’t someone that is worth keeping around in your life.

Until, until, until… It might feel like you can’t be happy until you get something, until you are good enough, until you are thin enough. You wait and wait, hoping that if you push and struggle and achieve, someday you’ll feel like you’re enough. But that day is already here. You are enough. Exactly as you are now.

- Victoria


About The Author: Victoria Ying is an author and artist living in Los Angeles. She loves Japanese Curry, putting things in her shopping cart online only to take them out again, and hanging out with her husband and furry friends. Her film credits include Tangled, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Moana. Her debut young adult novel, Hungry Ghost, comes out this week.


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