Dear Teen Me,
Hey you! Yes, you with the bad perm and five-dollar tennis shoes. Pay attention because I want you to hear what I have to say. Keep running. Keep moving. Just keep going. I know, I know, you think you can’t. You have asthma. You have shin splints. You get light-headed. You feel like you’re going to pass out. I know. Deal with it and keep moving.
I’ve been watching you. I see how your eyes dart around from person to person as if you’re searching for something in each of their faces. I know what you’re doing and I know you won’t find it there. You have always been the anxious type, trying to please, trying to perform, but more often just trying to find some sense of security. You were an early bloomer, growing faster than the other girls in your class. I know you never felt like you fit in anywhere—especially not in gym class. You aren’t alone. Now that I am grown, almost every adult I meet admits to feeling this way at some point. You just want acceptance and that sense of belonging. And at times it has felt hopeless, especially at age fifteen when your parents moved—again—in the middle of the school year, when you had tests to take, projects due, and boys to impress.Don’t worry. As they say, “This too shall pass.” You won’t understand what that means for many, many years. But one day, the simple truth of that one statement will pull you through tough times—like the stitch in your side and the pain in your knee as you trudge through the ninth mile of your first half-marathon. “This too shall pass” will become your mantra as you log mile after mile on cold, moon-lit mornings, nose running, ears stinging from the bitter wind.
You think running is hard now? Toughing out those painful steps while you are young will prepare you for some of your darkest days, like when you bury your brother much too early in life, or when you watch your young daughter endure spinal taps, MRI’s, and up to 30 seizures a day before doctors can find something to help her. Running through pain and fatigue gives you strength and endurance. And you need those things not just today, but also down the road. Someone told me once that bigger children mean bigger problems. What that means is as life progresses, our challenges become greater. All the little things that seem so big now and cause you stress today will mean nothing down the road. I don’t say this to give you pain, or to cause you more stress. I merely want to show you that you are strong—stronger than you believe yourself to be. You can and will do hard things!
In the long run, you will regret giving up. You will regret not pushing yourself a little harder, a little longer. Running can give you what you’re looking for. One day you will find acceptance and belonging through running. All the hours you’ve wasted worrying about popularity, the texture of your hair, or the size of your thighs—those things will work themselves out. You will grow into your body and your emotions will mellow. You will survive gym class! And a little running can only help.
So, what I want to tell you, Teen Me, is have hope. Invest in yourself! Life isn’t about winning; it’s about participating. Stop saying you can’t; don’t worry about failure. Security isn’t found the eyes of a stranger or the arms of a boyfriend. You won’t find it in awards and medals, or the accolades of others. Stop chasing those things! Security is found in patience, faith, the right attitude, confidence and perseverance. Running will help cultivate these traits in you. Do it now, while your future is ahead of you. Find joy one step at a time. Choose happiness today. And never, ever give up!
Fiauna Lund has always been passionate about reading and writing. She began crafting her first stories as a young girl while exploring the woods of western Pennsylvania. She met her husband while attending Utah State University, and later earned a degree in human services from Columbia College. She now resides in Farmington, Utah. When she isn’t reading, writing, or running, she can be found taking care of her wonderful husband, four cute kids, and two rambunctious cats.
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Dear Teen Me: More Letters from Authors to their Teen SelvesTeen Fiction
We hope you'll be inspired, shocked, amused, and touched by this selection of letters from the DearTeenMe.com website. 'How awesome would it be if authors wrote letters to their teen selves?' A year and a half later, you can pick up DEAR TEEN ME fro...