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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Dear Teen Me, with love from Stephie Jo

Because today we are talking about Jenny Torres Sanchez and her involvement in the Dear Teen Me project, Karen Jensen and I decided to try our hand at our own “Dear Teen Me” letters. Be sure to check out the Dear Teen Me project at their website and check out the anthology coming out in Fall 2012. As a fun writing assignment flip the premise and have your teens write a “Dear Adult Me” letter. Make sure they save them until they are adults, it would be interesting to see what they think about them later. (Dear Teen Me published by Zest Books October 30, 2012)
Dear Teen Me,

So many things that I wish to tell you, but knowing us, you’re entirely too headstrong to listen.  Just try to listen and keep an open mind.

You will always love eating…

One thing to get out of the way and quickly.  When you are 13, someone extremely close to you (not family) is going to die in a terrible car accident.  And you will spend months in a dark place because of how close you were to this person and how much you just don’t understand death.  You cannot change things, so I will never tell you who, but just know that death is a part of life and even though we never understand how or why young people are taken from us, God has a master plan.  Another angel to watch over you is never a bad thing in the years to come.

Stephanie as a senior (far right)

So, what can I tell you to try to help?  All those girls you try so hard to be like?  Waste of time.  You’re not friends with any of them.  You only keep in touch through the Internet.  You have good friends now but you ditch them because they weren’t pretty/smart/cool enough to hang around.  The good part is…they become your closest friends in the end.  So save them the heartache of being a total jerkface to them and just be cool.  They ALWAYS have your back.

When you are 16, your parents will buy you a car.  And because you have that car, you will break up with the best boyfriend you have ever had (until much later in life).  He will follow you around school and bring you flowers the next day and you will break his heart.  Go back to him.  Every guy that follows leads you down a path that turns you into a completely different type of girl than who you were when you were with him.  And make sure that no matter what you do, you beg him to spend plenty of quality time with his mother.  Trust me on this. 

Let’s see…what else.  You’re going to meet a girl named Shannon.  And even though this happens after your ‘teens’, NEVER EVER DATE HER BOYFRIEND.  He will hurt the both of you and almost break up a friendship that is lifelong.  She will become the second most important person in your life and impossible to live without.

You’re not going to be valedictorian.  It will rip your little overachieving heart out of your chest.  That speech you wrote back in 9th grade and you saved on the purple floppy disk?  No one will read it.  And you know what?  That’s totally okay.  I don’t remember a damn thing about graduation night other than we went and ate at Applebee’s afterwards.  That’s it.  I don’t remember the speeches or the choir singing songs.  A speech is just a moment in the spotlight, it fades quickly.  Trust me…you have plenty of opportunities in the future to speak and be remembered.  It’s pretty awesome when it happens.

In college, that cute guy in French class will become famous (friend him on Facebook…umm…yes, there is this thing that is cooler than AOL Chat in the future), the hot guy you wanted to date in English turns out to be a total jerk, and you will make decisions that will affect your life and everyone else’s life around you.  BUT…you need to make those decisions.  Things turn out okay for everyone in the end, even though you really hurt a lot of people, including yourself.  And you’re gonna hurt.  And I swear to you on our life, it really does stop hurting after a while. 

And quickly, no smiley face in the tattoo on your back (it’s not that cute 10 years later), no one that you ever meet in a bar turns out to be good news, be more open to new experiences, spend a hell of a lot of time with your grandparents, your Mom is and always will be your closest friend and confidant (she becomes right about 90% of the things she tells you, DON’T GET CREDIT CARDS EVER, tequila is not your friend, and be brave and fearless because you’re capable of so much more than you realize.
Shoulder belongs to hubby. (;

I’m sure you want to know a ton of things about the future…I will tell you that you are  extremely accomplished, you are happy beyond belief, and you are all of the things that you wanted to be in life AND MORE.  I don’t want to spoil some of the awesome things because the way that your life unfolds is the most beautiful piece of the puzzle that is you and it is everything and more that you ever thought you wanted in life.  Trust me.  You haven’t seen anything yet.  (Yes, you do get married.  Finally.  And the guy?  He’ll blow your freaking mind.  In an amazingly fantastic rom-com style that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.  He is the second best thing to happen to you in life.  Not telling on the first. J)

Love you forever and always, Stephie Jo

Stephie Jo, or Stephanie Wilkes as we now call her,  is the Young Adult Coordinator for the Ouachita Parish Public Library in Monroe, Louisiana. I’ve been a ‘librarian’ since 2008, when I graduated from LSU with my MLIS, but working in libraries since 2004 with teens (when I was barely older than they were). My passion is working with teens to connect them to great books. My favorite authors: David Levithan, John Green, John Corey Whaley, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle, and Philip K. Dick (not YA but still full of awesome). I probably could name several more…=) I am the founder and festival director of the North Louisiana Teen Book Festival which will be making it’s debut on April 6, 2013. And then, after 5 pm, I’m a wife to a huge Batman fan and a mother to the most amazing son in the world. Tough life, but somebody’s gotta do it!


  1. For the record, I'm sure your smiley face is pretty rad even now. Great letter!

  2. Oh, Jenny…I'm not so sure. BUT my other tattoo, a blue anchor inspired from the Bloody Jack books, is rad! LOL

  3. Girl, you were hot. Couldn't you have some dorky looking pictures to make me feel better about myself? Although that is quite the eating you are doing LOL. Great post. Loved it.

  4. HAHA! I have dorky pics from Jr. High but none I have access to right now. Those were all on FB.

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