Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dear Teen Me

Okay, so I've seen this a lot of places recently, and I don't know if it's a meme I wasn't invited to (talk about remembering the teen years) or what, but I thought it sounded like a good idea. So here goes.

Dear Teen Beth,

You're fourteen and life sucks. It gets better. It takes about ten years, but it does get better.

I know you think you're in love with a jerk who's goal in life is tormenting you right now, but the good news is you're not. The thing is after some of the messed up things he does (i.e. publicly humiliating you whenever possible and calling you at home when no one is around), you'd realize this if you weren't pre-conditioned to believe that it's okay for guys to do effed up things, especially guys that care about you. It's not okay. Guys that care about you don't do effed up things, and really most guys that don't care about you don't do effed up things. It wouldn't be worth the time. Effed up guys do effed up things. The problem is at fourteen you've known enough effed up adult males to accept effed up behavior from boys as normal.  It's not and it takes you a while, but you figure it out.

You get tired of being tormented at school, and sitting through a meaningless eight hours every day, (most of which you spend ignoring lectures because you're doing homework for other classes), and you home school yourself. You've always been an honor student, and though you're not top of the class you're ranked fairly well, especially considering your studying habits. So when you go to home school, you're required to take a placement test. You score so high you test out of the eleventh grade for everything but math. But you hate Paris. (You know this). So you start your classwork in July not late August. You're through with school completely by Dec. 2001, and in Jan. 02 while the people you started school with(the class of 03) are all chilling in bad chairs courtesy of PISD, you're chilling in Arlington.

It's not all smooth sailing. Right before you leave, you meet a guy with eyes the color of yours. He's funny and completely different from that effed up guy you spent years shamelessly following, and most importantly for a girl with no self-esteem, interested in you or so it would appear. As you're writing this twelve years later, he's a jerk. Part of me wants to tell you to blow him off when you meet him. Tell him he's pond scum, but part of me knows that if you do that, there is a guy waiting for you in Arlington. He's beautiful and reminds us of someone we used to know. He's truly and legitimately interested in you, in ways no one ever has been. You date him for a while after you break up with this loser, but you're such a mess that you manage to eff it up REALLY soon. You regret this for a long time, because you know it could have worked. The things is, it's for the best that it doesn't work. Because the guy you marry is the man you've always needed.

You shuffle through school for a few years. You have a group of friends, and you're the cool kid. You manage to get four cable stations to a school in Texas with no football team. And you're next real boyfriend isn't until after that. He's hot and Peruvian ;). And still a jerk! You know how to pick them. It's an on again off again thing, and you think this is okay because men who are supposed to care about you, leave you. You waste too much time on him, but I don't know that I can blame you. Hot might be an understatement, and he's a damn good kisser. Yeah, good kisser or not, he's a jerk. Leave the fool alone.

Considering your 42 hour work week and full class schedule, you do exceptionally well on the LSAT, and you get into law school. You swear off all the guys you know when you leave except James. Because James is probably still the best friend you've ever had with the exception of Stephanie. Stephanie has your back. You don't know these people yet. I know that, but they're real friends. The kind you don't really have in Paris. They'd both protect you/take care of you and worry about the consequences later. You'd do the same for them. You love them.

So you get to Arkansas, and it doesn't take you long to figure out that there is a lot of injustice in the justice system. As ironic as that might be, it's the kind of place that sucks the life out of an idealist. You're still working A LOT against ABA regulations, so not only do you hate it, you have the the lowest grades you've ever had. EVER.

You're at your lowest and you make a new friend, your best friend. He picks you up one night and you're not really sure if it's a date. You think he's probably the law school version of James. But when you get to his car, you find the dozen roses he tucked under the seat for you. You smile and ask, "For me?" His eyes dance in a way you didn't know they could, and he says, "Do you think I would take someone else out?" He's legitimately interested in you, and he's what we need.

He's so calm, it makes it hard for you to freak out, a good thing because you eventually learn that not all of your asthma attacks are asthma, lots of them are anxiety. And the only thing that prevents an anxiety attack is not getting anxious. His goal in life is making you happy, and since you've never known anyone like this before, you don't know what to think of it. The first time he says, "I love you," you say, "okay." But it doesn't take you long to figure out he's your true other half. You compliment each other well, and together you're one whole functioning unit. Four years later, you're still happy.

You move back to Texas and start a life with this guy. You work for the government for  a few years, in a gig that's exceptionally good for an English major, but you don't love it. Our guy tells you to start a blog. You don't know why, but you do. In fact, you start two. One that is a project and the other is supposed to be about your life. Your moderately happy boring life is completely uneventful. The one about your life sucks. The project takes off. The project becomes your life. Your life becomes the project. Our guy enjoys all of this. When you interview your first best seller, he's more exicted than you. You finish the project six hours before deadline, and now you're a decent blogger. We keep at it, and we figure out not only that we want to write, but that we're pretty good at it. We even figure out what exactly we want to write. And twelve years from sitting in that stiff chair with people who don't get you and don't appreciate you, I think you've met as many best sellers as a NYT reviewer. Middle listers occasionally send you copies of books as do bookstores. You're enjoying your life even if you're not published, and the people you talk to now appreciate you. You got a clue and quit talking to people who don't.


  1. Wow this was incredible Beth. I loved this letter. This is one for the books. One to remember when you're down. In fact, when I'm feeling up to it I should really write one for myself.

    Beautiful. So beautiful.

    1. You left this comment a long time ago, but I just wanted to say thank you. I'm having a bad day today and re-read the post and I appreciate your comment. It makes me feel better.

  2. This was lovely Beth. Really lovely.

  3. The sparkle thing that follows my mouse around is cool.

    Oh the teen years. I am so sorry you had so many jerks in your life, but now you have Mr. Wonderful. I wish you great happiness and much success with your writing.