Dear Teen Me,
Okay, I get it. You hate school. You’ve always hated school and the boring sameness of it all. Listen to the teacher, do the work, turn it in. Rinse. Repeat. You have been tested and retested and yes, I know about the gifted label you got in the sixth grade and that you’ve been reading since you were three. You’re opinionated, dramatic and that purple hair actually looks good on you. But—hear me out—your social anxiety is making it difficult for you to engage with others. You can’t stay holed up in your room writing angst-filled poetry forever. Well, you can but how will hiding help you follow your dreams?
Dropping out of high school is something you’ll regret when you’re older. Believe me. You’ll miss out on the high school drama, no being thrown into a locker because you’re tiny, no “Kick Me” signs on your back or rude nicknames, but you’ll also miss out on joining the orchestra (remember how you always wanted to play violin?) and the theater club (you’d love the chance to act and the role of Laura in The Glass Menagerie must’ve been written with you in mind). You’ll miss out on going on your first date and having crushes. You’ll miss out on prom (you know how much you like to dress up) remember that dress you saw in the boutique downtown, the one with the pink skirt and glittering overlay? And more importantly, you’ll miss out on taking English Literature (which you love). Don’t do it. Stay in school.
I know, I know, it sounds like something your Mom would say…but she’s right.
Taking the GED when you are eighteen allows you to go to college and it changes your life. You finally love school and take so many different classes your head swims with knowledge. But there’s a problem, your math skills are lacking and your study skills are non-existent. Taking remedial courses helps but if you had learned what you needed in high school, the first year of college wouldn’t be so much of a struggle.
But you persevere and finally get the degree and go on to graduate school too. You pick up your writing again after being away from it for a time and surprise, it helps you relax after a stressful day. You write and write and independently publish several books, you get a degree in creative writing for young adults and you get an agent who loves your writing!
Would all of this be possible if you had gone to high school? Sure, of course but missing out on the cultural experience of high school haunts you to this day. Maybe that’s why you write young adult novels.
If you had the chance would you drop out of high school again? Or stay in school and see where that path will lead? I think you might choose to stay just to change it up a bit. Don’t you? Who knows what paths you might’ve forged if you had.
My advice? Don’t agonize over the small decisions, the big ones are hard enough. Embrace your uniqueness, your ability to write young adult horror and dark contemporaries and keep moving forward, one step at a time.
BTW: the purple hair really rocks. I’d keep it if I were you!
All my love,
Your Future Self
The letter above is part of an ongoing weekly 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.
About The Author: Kathleen S. Allen has a Master’s in Children’s Literature with an emphasis in creative writing for young adults. She was a theater major as an undergraduate and participated in many productions as an actor both in college and in community theater and a summer repertory company.