One of my most favorite people ever, the magnificent Caitlyn McFarland, just did a blog post of advice she would give her 13-year-old self (based on the #dearme hashtag and youtube campaign), so I thought I would piggyback on her idea and do one of my own . . . but with gifs. Because why not?
I posted earlier on facebook that all of the advice I’d want to give myself would fill several books, but I’ll try and keep it to the essentials here. (Actually, my mother put together a book of advice from people who were important to me when I turned 13 . . . but I was 13 and not a very good listener.)
1) First and foremost, 13-year-old Rae, get some help. NOW. Please, go talk to a counselor, and don’t let them tell you that your feelings are just teenage angst. You’re bipolar, 13-year-old Rae, and the sooner you learn how to deal with what that means, the sooner you’ll feel in control of your life. And while you’re at it, convince someone to let you see a doctor. Your health problems are not just hormones, m’love. They’re little tumors that hurt like hell, and they’re going to cause you a lot of agony if you don’t get them taken care of. Do not let one more person tell you that either one of these things are all in your head.
2) For the love of Pete, quit that stupid dance team earlier. Dancing should make you HAPPY. I promise you, 13-year-old Rae, the high school dance team will not make you happy. Getting picked on by 20 older girls at 5 AM will not make you more confident or stronger. This is not one of those “hard things that you learn from” experiences. This is one of those “run away and never return” things. And when they ask where you’re running, just say one of two things:
3) Keep up that reading and writing. This is one of those things that you will thank yourself for, trust me. The only thing I would ask you to change, dear 13-year-old Rae, is PLEASE let people who know what they are talking about read your books. Learn how to “show, not tell” early on. Go to writing conferences instead of dance competitions. Start learning about literary agents and query letters. And of course, do not EVER let anyone tell you that writing is not a legitimate career choice. It’s hard, and you’ll have to work another job, but you can handle that. You’re a pro.
4) Stop freaking out. Seriously, I mean it. Don’t freak about tests and teachers and makeup (or lack thereof) and idiot “friends” whom you will never see again. These are not the things that will end up mattering in your life. Start learning to relax and enjoy stillness.
5) As an addendum to #4, for the love of fiery burningness, ditch those crummy boys you’re mooning after. Boys are awesome. Men are awesome. But you, dearest 13-year-old Rae, have really crappy taste in both right now, as far as crushes go. You will not marry someone from high school. In fact, you will never even date someone from high school. Your first boyfriend won’t come along until you are 19 years old. AND THAT IS OKAY. Take some time to figure yourself out, and when the right guy does show up, be chill. Be his best friend. Don’t pressure him. Soon you’ll be looking back and saying:
(By the way, 13-year-old Rae, he’s going to look very much like this guy down here.)
Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
6) This will sound lame, dear Rae, but stop eating gluten. I promise you’ll feel A LOT better, and your energy level will skyrocket.
7) Don’t get cocky. I know you sometimes think you’re hot stuff–
— but you still have a lot to learn. Don’t ever stop learning.
8) Lastly, be an active participant in your life. Throw yourself into things. You want other people to feel passionately about your work? Live a life filled with that passion, and pour it into the things you love. Go talk to people. Hiding in the basement is all very well and good when you’re writing or gaming, but get out of the house once in a while.
Okay? You got that?
My work here is done.