Wednesday, April 16, 2014

To my 16-year-old self

I got into YA when I was a very old teenager (it took them 7 freaking years to call it NA, by which time I was too old for it, too!) Combined with the fact that most of the YA I read at first was awfully twee and immature and, well, I ended up having a fairly detached outlook on the genre. 

It never truly applied to me, is what I'm saying. The books that struck a chord were always exceptions, never the rule. 

And yet the Younger Me was a Twi-fan, and for a reason. I think that part of my self still lives within me, even though I've done a fairly good job of ignoring her. Since the Lantern is all about YA (and what YA tends to do wrong), though, I figured this might be appropriate.

So, dear 16-year-old-me,

Oh, sweetie, you'll do yourself SO many favours if you just let it go. Unfortunately, Frozen won't come out for over half a decade, and you have yet to figure out that feminism isn't a dirty word. 

First things first: Writing fanfiction, having a LiveJournal blog, writing embarrassingly juvenile sex scenes? Best thing you'll ever do. Because guess what? You're on a learning curve. You're putting yourself out there. You're figuring out your style, your voice, your plots. You learn about the world. You're growing a thicker skin. You're making friends. For the first time in your life, you'll be gaining confidence. Don't let anyone take that away from you.

Second - concerts aren't scary. You just think they are because you don't have any friends to go with. Do yourself a favour, start going out more. It helps. 

Third - Skirts are awesome.

Fourth - Play the piano. Do aikido. Paint. Sing. Dance. Do the stuff you want, the books aren't gonna go anywhere. Believe it or not, there will be a time when you get sick of them.

Five - Don't bother yourself with the university entrance exams in Bulgaria. They suck, and you have better things to do with your time.

Six - Relationships are awesome. So is being single. 

Seven - Stop stressing. Seriously, everything's going to be okay.

Here's the thing, sweetheart - being responsible is all well and good, so long as it is within your power to actually do something about it. Be nice. Be kind. Recycle. Don't buy into rape culture. Be a good friend. Be a diligent student. 

Don't try to be everyone's Mom. 

Don't cry for every single injustice done in the world, because you'll wring yourself dry.

Don't go around acting mature and sophisticated when you don't want to be, and then get mad when people tell you to lighten up. There's merit to laughing at yourself and being ridiculous.

It's not easy. People will try to pile on the responsibility on you. They'll say: "You must be a role model," or "You need to think about the future." 

You're sixteen. The only future you need to think about is the one where you're Queen of the Universe, and guess what - you already are. The world just needs to figure it out. 

I'm not telling you to be irresponsible or to screw authority, just don't bend to it preemptively. Do what you want. Do what you like. The rest will come naturally. 


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