Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Stop 'Dear Teen Me' Blog Tour!

Dear Teen Me,

Can you believe it? You turned 30 this year!  It seemed so far away when you were in high school; some hazy mirage that slowly solidified into a life.  You're a librarian now (duh, right?) and you work with teens.  Lots has happened in the last 15 or so years.  From my vaunted third decade of life let me drop a little wisdom on you.  If you actually listen to me, some of the rough patches you're facing will go a lot easier.

You are quite familiar with pain right now.  It greets you in the morning with a choking grip around your throat.  It haunts your dreams and infiltrates your memories.  Loss and grief haunt you throughout the day like twin weights suspended from your heart.  Rand died only a couple months ago and broke your family; changed your world.  You are still emotionally raw.  Anger and sadness are constant companions right now along with questions you are hesitant to ask.  You can ask those questions but,  I tell you now, not all of your questions have answers.

You will never know why he chose to take his life.  You will never know what he thought or why he didn't ask for help.  And you will never fully accept the truth - there was nothing you could have done to prevent him.  Even now, a small part of us wonders if there weren't something that we could have done.  (Which is ridiculous; we were in 7th grade for God's sake and in a different state.)  Do your best to focus on the Rand you grew up with.  Embrace happier memories and don't let his last action determine his role in your life.  Don't wallow in depression too long.  It is fine, and healthy, to mourn but don't wish yourself away.  Don't wish to take his place.  Don't let sorrow's anchor pin your emotions down.  Allow yourself to feel the joy of being.  You are still here (and will be for a long time to come).

You spend most of high school being emotionally distant from people around you and, to some extent, continue to do so even now.  Distance doesn't prevent hurt, just life.  You can't experience all the highs and lows that you are meant to when you keep your inner-most self firmly under wraps.  And you will regret that distance as time passes and you remain isolated.  Your island refuge begins to feel much like a marooning simply because you lack trust in people.  (Note: Please start working on your trust issues earlier - as I am having to deal with all of them now.)  People change and sometimes those changes make them unworthy of your trust, but you shouldn't regret trusting them to begin with.  Distrust will just make you cynical and sarcastic which, while sometimes funny, is an exhausting permanent state.  Believe me, I've been there.

Lock all those doubts and darker emotions away every so often and allow yourself to have a day of pure happiness.  Don't be so self-conscious.  In fifteen years it'll have been ages since you saw anyone from high school, who cares if you get a little silly?  Silly can be good.  Odd can be even better.  In college you embrace your inner nerd and learn to revel in the geekery of life.  Just think of how much more fun you could have had in high school by letting your geek flag fly.  (Also, geeks tend to make really good friends.)

To quote our current favorite song lyrics:
Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn
And it's hard to dance with the devil on your back
so shake him off*

Wishing you inner peace, lots of joy, and plenty of adventure,
Your Future Self

P.S. *The lyrics are from 'Shake it Out' by Florence + the Machine but that band won't exist for a few more years.