Writing My “Dear Teen Me” Letter

Posted October 02, 2011


Just recently, I had the honor of having a letter featured on Dear Teen Me! This website is run by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally and publishes letters from authors to their teen selves (an anthology is forthcoming from Zest Books in the fall of 2012).

When E. Kristin Anderson first asked me to participate in her website a couple of months ago, I was very intimidated. The question of “what would you say to your teenage self” loomed large in my mind and I struggled to come up with some profound, epic, earth-shattering advice for Teen Cory. But nothing came to me.

Don’t get me wrong – I was not one of those people who had ideal teen years (I mean really, do those people exist?). There were plenty of things about those years that I would change if I could – I just couldn’t come up with something that I thought Teen Cory would actually listen to.

Until I busted out my senior yearbook.

Flipping through the pages, seeing the pictures, and reading what my friends from way-back-when had written sent me right back into Teen Cory’s head. And while certain things have changed – I don’t have quite as much angst now and I don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about David Duchovny – in a lot of ways I am still very much Teen Cory in Thirty-Something Cory’s body (even looking around every now and then and thinking, “am I really a grown-up?”).

I realized that Teen Cory would not want any advice at all. She wouldn’t want a list of people, places and situations she’d be better off avoiding, or a step-by-step instruction guide as to how she could navigate her life more gracefully. Teen Cory would have ignored all of that. The best thing I could do for her was to reassure her that, for the most part, things work out well for us. And the things that don’t quite go our way are all survivable and sometimes even blessings in disguise. That’s what Teen Cory would really want to hear. And if it’s possible to imagine a future version of myself writing a “Dear Thirty-Something-Me” letter, I suppose I’d want to hear the exact same thing from her.

However, I could not resist giving myself one concrete piece of advice. Thirty-Something Cory was not nearly as mortified by her yearbook portrait as Teen Cory was – in fact, I laughed hysterically upon seeing it and immediately brought it over to my neighbor’s house so she could laugh about it too – but Thirty-Something Cory still remembers how Teen Cory felt about that picture (and that haircut!) and it would have been heartless not to at least try and warn her. I’m not sure she’ll listen, but even if she doesn’t, she’ll have a good laugh over it one day!

To read my “Dear Teen Me” letter (and, even better, to see the picture!), click this link:

Cory’s Dear Teen Me Letter


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