Dear Me (at 17)

14 September 2012

Dear Me,

You think you love him. But you don't. On your 17th birthday he will give you a necklace and take you to a Cranberries concert. And you will break his heart.

You don't mean to. You love boys until they love you back, and then you fly away. This is how you work. Then there's another boy, and you think you are just broken enough for each other, that your traumatic childhoods and love for flannel and U2 have bound you together. You think that him loving you back will make all the black turn to light, but he won't.

And you will be ok.

I know you think value is all tied up in who favors you, who compliments you, the A you did or didn't get, the solo that went to someone else, the taste of a first kiss. You think acceptance is just out of reach, you feel on the fringes, you are self-conscious about your lack in ability in peeling an orange (don't ask me why - it was a thing). Even when you succeed in the best choir and the coveted acting troupes, you still feel a fraud, still long for approval.

I wish I could tell you to fight it. I wish I could tell you that the boys don't define you. The solos and the As don't define you. Not even your apple cheeks or your curly hair don't define you, though I do still admire those (spoiler alert: it gets curlier).

What will define you is slowly coming into view. You will lose it for awhile, but when you do catch glimpses of it - on the first crisp fall evening at 18, when you leave Kansas behind at 19, when you walk in Galilee - I want you to see, fully see, that you are worth so much more than a gold plated necklace or a hot prom date in an even hotter blue Jeep.

I'm not gonna lie, there is more breaking to be done. But the putting together, there is holy beauty in that. 

Let Him do that for you; bringing you soul sisters, weaving you songs, and taking you across the sea to a Wicklow mountaintop.

Let them do that for you; three imperfect little people who cuddle you in your sleep and slap your cheeks in fits of laughter.

Let the one you know you love, the one who loves you back, do that for you (I promise he will come along sooner rather than later). He'll be poor and will fill your living room with sawdust, but he will cook and carry your tears in his heart, and your head will fit perfectly in the nook of his shoulder.

There's no need to fly away now.

Also, ditch the tube socks. My So-Called Life will only last one season. The red hair can stay for awhile, though. You rock red.

Me, twice your age <wince>

PS - Remember this as your own girl - your tiny twin - grows. You will need to show her, and she will need to see it, too.

I like to say I don't like teens, but I think that's because I didn't really like myself as a teen. But in honour of a new book for teen girls, here I am: writing to teenaged me. It feels... painful. But redeemed. What would you say?


  1. This was really great. Thanks Karen.

    Also, you will someday trust your kids with the cousin you currently hate :)

    1. Thanks, Uncle Ben. :) I'm intensely curious as to what you'd tell your teenage self!