Taken from my Dear Teen Me
Kim at 18.
Some days are harder than others. You know you don’t really fit in with the kids at school or even in your church. They don’t get you but then again did you think they would? You can’t forget the first time you tried to tell Michelle, your BFF at that time, what was going on at home. You remember how the next day, you went to your lunch table and found someone else sitting in your space. Michelle told you she couldn’t be your friend anymore because ‘good girls’ don’t say bad things about their fathers. You also remember how in that crowded, noisy cafeteria, you felt the room crash down on you. You wanted to escape, hide, anything but stand there feeling like such a loser. You didn’t have anywhere else to sit so you ended up inside the bathroom stall, sobbing and wondering what you did wrong.
No wonder you don’t trust anyone. No wonder you don’t want to open up to anyone else.
But during these times you remember there is somewhere you can escape to; a magical place where you know you won’t be labeled ‘bad’, ‘weird’, or even ‘different.’
Go to the Martin Luther King Library. I know you’ll love it there.
The Martin Luther King Library.
Once inside the library, you’ll feel a special warmth that will chase away any negativity from the outside world. The gloominess of the Sacramento weather will be replaced with bright sunlight that will radiate through you. You’ll crave this light and will know that the library will never let you down. In fact, it’ll be your salvation.
Within the stacks, you’ll find such books as FOREVER by Judy Blume. This book doesn’t speak down to you just because you’re a teen but rather the author will show her understanding of your questions of so-called forbidden topics. You’ll devour this book and others by her like chocolate and go back for more.
Richard Peck’s book DON’T LOOK AND IT WON’T HURT will show ;you that others get the pain that comes from not fitting in.
THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton is another book that you’ll read a number of times.
You’ll even check out more controversial books that you know are banned in your school library or deeply frowned on. One such book, GO ASK ALICE, deals with a girl and her drug use. Though you don’t use, you can relate with Alice’s pain. Another book you can’t help but sneak a peek at is JAY’S JOURNAL, which deals with a boy’s fascination with witchcraft.
These messages of hope, understanding, and courage will carry you through the bad moments at both school and even home. You’ll hide a flashlight under your pillow so you can read all night. Your grandfather will tease you that you’re a chip off the old block. After all didn’t your one relative write Tarzan?
Reading will also encourage you to do your own writing. Sure, some of your short stories will come off sounding like cheesy After School Special episodes. Yes, you’ll brush your stories off as being bad, but keep writing. This is your way of dealing with your own pain in a constructive way.
You’ll also write lots and lots of poetry. You’ll find that you can write down all your emotions without fear of being judged. Keep this up as later these poems will help you touch others who, believe it or not, are suffering just like you.
Books will also help when adults can’t or won’t answer your questions. You know something’s not right with your father. You hear the whispers and see the glances. When no-one will tell you the truth, where will you turn? The library, of course. There you’ll find the book YOU NEVER PROMISED ME A ROSE GARDEN by Joanne Greenberg and find a haunting portrayal of a girl who has her own inner demons. This book will help you realize that maybe your own father might be mentally ill.
And finally books will give you the courage to be on your high school newspaper and validate your hunch that you can write. I’d tell you not to listen to Kevin, who is totally a jerk, when he doesn’t give you that assistant editor position you know you deserve. But then again you’ll learn much on the path you do choose.
Libraries are special. You know that now and will continue to foster that love on your own child. You’ll speak out against those who decry funding when you know how the library was your savior at an important time of your life. Spending all those hours in the library will later help you work toward your own goal of writing.
Continue to go to the library. Never give up your passion for reading, writing, and yes, even questioning.
You are amazing. Don’t forget that.
Your future self,
P.S. Jerks like Kevin, fade in time. Trust me on that one.