Anyway, I was thinking about little teenage me, even little kid me. Back then, more than anything, I wanted to be a writer. But, even as a kid, I knew saying such things out loud would get me lectures about practicality, backup jobs, and keeping other options open.
So I learned to say something less "impossible." I wanted to be an English teacher. A linguist. Teach ESL. Teach Japanese. And so on and so forth. People would nod, deeming this a worthy and attainable goal. Not that any of these jobs are bad, and heck, I still wouldn't mind doing any of those. But in the back of my head I knew I wanted to write, and I knew it might never happen.
Unless I made it happen.
There have been a lot of "Letter to My Teenage Self" posts going around, and I have so enjoyed reading them. As I thought about what I would say to myself, there were a lot of silly things. For example, I'd warn myself about that really short haircut I decided to get my senior year in high school. I'm pretty sure it contributed to my lack of dates both that year and my freshman year in college, since growing it back out made me look like I had a mullet.
Oh, hindsight. Thank you for all the laughs.
But in all seriousness, there was one idea that I kept coming back to, one thing I really wanted to say to my younger self. It was this:
You go for your dreams. You get over the fear of rejection, the worry that others will disapprove. You fight your own insecurities, and you throw yourself into your dreams full force.It's not exactly as you imagined—sometimes it's so freaking hard you want to quit—but you are a writer. Okay, I admit I don't know when you'll get paid for it, but you ARE doing it and actually doing it pretty well. You get stronger. You learn a lot. You write A LOT. You don't regret any of it.You live the life you always wanted to live, so keep going.
When I realized this was what I wanted to tell my young, nervous self, I actually started to cry. I mean, what more can I ask for? I'm doing what I love. I'm doing something I never thought I could do. I'm living my dream already—right now. I live it everyday. I'm a writer.
That, my friends, makes me happy.
Beautiful letter! I think as applicable for some of us today as it would be for our younger selves. Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
This is great. Thanks for posting this!ReplyDelete
Just discovered your blog via Twitter, and am so glad! I'm definitely a subscriber now. I especially love the Happy Writers Society. Definitely stuff I need to hear. :)ReplyDelete
What a great, inspirational post! I definitely sugarcoated my want to be a writer because of the practicality standpoint - I said English teacher and now, I'm going to school to work in publishing. I still want to be a writer, though, and I'm glad you didn't give up on it because it seemed unobtainable! :)ReplyDelete
Question completely out of left field here, but DID you study linguistics at BYU? (I know you're much younger than I am, and he retired some time ago, but if you did study linguistics, there might be teeny tiny chance you met my dad.)ReplyDelete
Annette, I studied English Linguistics, which was a brand new major when I went there. It was established in like 2003, along with the editing minor. So I'm not sure! I took a hybrid of English Dept classes and Linguistics Dept classes.ReplyDelete
I've been enjoying these "notes to teenage self" posts as well, and yours is no exception. Yes, write, write, write, and ignore all of the reasons not to ;)ReplyDelete
He was still at BYU then, but was associate dean of Humanities by that point.ReplyDelete
I really wish the English Linguistics and editing minor had been around in the fossil age when I was there.
(Hope you got to have Dr. Oaks. I took 2 classes from him. Favorite professor EVER.)
So nice! I'm glad you're doing what you love.ReplyDelete
I was lucky to have parents that encouraged me to go after any job I dreamed of. My mom didn't get that encouragement from her parents and now she's stuck doing something she likes, but isn't passionate about. I'm grateful that whether it's writing or becoming a Broadway star (my high school dream, haha), my parents were 100% supportive.
Your letter brought me to tears too. :)ReplyDelete
As a teenager I had the most unabashed dreams ever.ReplyDelete
Now as an adult it feels less acceptable to have goals like "'published author". So your letter to your teenage self was actually one that adult me needed to hear.
Don't I know that same situation. That's exactly why I took up sign language. Thank God the practical career is actually fun.ReplyDelete
This letter was really encouraging to me as a young wannabe writer. This is awesome and a delight to read.
I teach high school and I wish all teenagers could get a letter from the future. Many do set goals and work to achieve them but so many are ready to give up their dreams. Enjoy every day of living yours.ReplyDelete
This could be the exact letter I'd write to myself. I always envy people who tell me their parents told them they could do whatever they wanted to do, be whatever they wanted to be. I was given the message that becoming a writer was an unrealistic and impractical dream, and that I'd have about as much chance of succeeding as winning the lottery. But you have to give yourself the pep talk if nobody else will.ReplyDelete
By the way, I love your blog. Only discovered it recently when Megan Burke posted a link to your post about disappointments with agents, publishers, etc. I am now a subscriber.
Beautiful letter. I had no clue as a teenager I'd ever want to write. Or that I could be creative. Wish I had worked at it back then like you.ReplyDelete
Love this. I'd also like to go to my 1997 self and tell her to start a blog. Or a search engine.ReplyDelete
What a terrific letter!ReplyDelete
you're a word-gician. That was beautiful.ReplyDelete
I love this post. That first paragraph is exactly what I'd say to my teenage self.ReplyDelete
You go for your dreams. You get over the fear of rejection, the worry that others will disapprove. You fight your own insecurities, and you throw yourself into your dreams full force.
I'd add: "It's your life. Don't be afraid to go for what you really want.