I’d like to thank Ginger over at GReads! for inviting me to be a part of An Open Letter to My YA Self. I know that Bookiemoji is typically an uplifting place to share the expressive nature of our bookish love, but I’d like to take a moment to get “real” with my YA self and my readers. This may not be the most uplifting open letters – but it is a look back at things that my (Jenna’s) YA self may not be aware of in the years that have passed between then and now.
To Jenna’s YA Self…
- You know those friends you’re making now in high school? Don’t get too attached. They won’t be there when you get older.
- You will always, always hold some regret for not pursuing your dream of becoming a Disney animator. That’s right, that dream you’re striving for right now? Ain’t gonna happen. (Oh, and by the way, Disney is closing their traditional animation studio in a handful of years. Don’t worry, you will learn this the very same day you’re accepted into animation school.) You do have the level of skill needed to achieve this dream – never doubt that. Despite the regret, you will be happy to know that pursuing love and a family is worth the loss of your first dream. Your child will bring you more happiness than the Magical World of Walt Disney ever did. She is your new dream.
- You will always struggle with your self-esteem. And though you may never believe that you are in any way beautiful, know that someone who will very likely be there for you for the rest of your life swears to you day in and day out that you are beautiful to him. Try to believe him. Even if you don’t, try harder.
- Know that the struggles you are going through now – in life, in learning, in love – they will all work out in the end, one way or another. Even if some things don’t work out exactly the way you expected. You are a survivor. You will learn to live and adapt to the unexpected..
- You will never be close to your extended family. You won’t even have much of an interest in mending those ties that have fallen apart thanks to time and miles. Work on cherishing the relationships you hold dear.
- Take that first job, and the second, and the third, and the twentieth… Yes, even take that one job that will pit you against a number of horrible people who will take advantage of your vulnerability and emotionally tear you apart. Eventually you will obtain a job that you love and it will provide for you and your family. Everything that happens before is a necessity. There are a lot of “necessities” in life and you will come out on the other site stronger and wiser than you were before.
- Making the decision not to go for that “fall-back” degree in education (after stamping out the idea of ever working for Disney first) is probably one of the best decisions you will ever make. Even if you doubt it at the time. You would have been an awful teacher. Apparently you’re a better writer than you are a speaker.
- Learn to realize you will never move back to Arizona. Don’t fool yourself otherwise. It’ll only drag you down.
- Despite what you or anyone else says otherwise, the hours of each and every day will accumulate in time spent on specific things in this order: 1) work 2) sleep 3) family 4) you. You and your personal well being will always come last. You wish that you and your family shared the top spot, but let’s face it, that’s not how life works. You’ve gotta work to live.
- Buying a house is as exciting as your parents always make it seem, even if you think it’s sooo boooring. You’ll stay in your first house longer than you’ve ever stayed in one place up to now.
- Try to hold back on your addictive/obsessive behaviors. Being a shopaholic will create so much undue stress later in life. Learn now before it’s too late. Put down that credit card. Better yet, cut it up. Now.
- Depression can and will get worse. You are still struggling with it, even in your thirties. Don’t give in. Don’t give up.
- Believe in those who care for you. They are there to help you. Even if you don’t fully realize that as you write this letter to your YA self.
- Your love for books will only grow. (I know, right? You’re probably thinking that’s impossible. It’s not. Trust, me. I KNOW.)
- Remember: YOU lived in a closet before Harry Potter made it cool. (Oh, and as for Harry Potter. You’ll understand who that is very, very soon.)
Oh, and Jenna? Here are a few books you wish had been around during your “formative” YA years:
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – This book could have taught you that there is no shame in being bigger. It would have been a great consolation, especially in the 8th grade when that kid on the bus insisted on calling you “thunder-thighs”.
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord – It would have been nice to know that, yes, your own personal doppelganger is out there. Being a neurotic “grammar girl” is actually a thing.
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens – You’re not the only one who creates physical scars to mask the internal ones. That boy at your side? He’s your Bodee. Trust me.
Is there anything that you would say in retrospect to your YA self?
Share below – I’d love to hear from you.