Someone asked me in an interview recently what I would tell my younger self if I could travel back in time. I thought this was actually a very important thought exercise and a great way to share advice with my younger readers and interns. Here is my letter to me at 13.
Dear 13-year-old Vanessa,
I know you are really excited right now to get into High School and try out your newly pierced ears on all of those boys at sleep away camp this summer. You should be! You are going to have a great summer. Remember to enjoy yourself and try to balance friends, school, boys and family time. You are coming up on a busy few years. And I was hoping you could keep the following things in mind:
1) I know you will have the tendency to dive into work and take the hardest classes possible. Remember, hardest and most impressive is definitely not necessarily better.
2) Please make choices about school with the mindset of ‘what do I enjoy?’ not ‘what would be best for my career/college application.’
3) People matter. The people you go to high school and college with you might not know forever, but you might want to. Network in a genuine way. I promise you are going to wish you spent more time learning and building relationships with the people around you instead of burying your head in books.
4) Do not hang out with people who are secretly mean. You know who they are. Those friends that you worry are not really friends–aren’t. Hang out with the people who seem interesting and kind, even though they might not be the coolest or the most ‘normal.’
5) You are going to get really, really mad at your parents. Your first instinct on how to deal with this (not drugs or rebellion) is right. Do it sooner and take it more seriously it could end up being a career…
6) You are going to hate this one, but unfortunately it is true. Most boys just want to get in your pants. Whatever they say, think to yourself, ‘is this just a tactic for them to get in my pants?’ If the answer is yes, tread smartly.
7) Please wear sunscreen and don’t tan. It really does cause wrinkles.
8) Write, write, write. You love it and the more you practice the better you will be.
9) Finally, spend lots of time with your brothers and sisters. Appreciate the casual fun times in your room and expand them. They will not last forever and you will miss your siblings when everyone moves out of the house.
This is an awesome summer book for teen girls and moms!
Premise: When poor Boston girl, Stephanie, is abandoned by her abusive mother and taken in by Annie’s Los Angeles family, she feels anything but at home. Her dark complexion and shabby clothes stick out in the golden-hued world of blondes and extravagance. These are girls who seem to live life in fast forward, while Stephanie is stuck on pause. Yet when a new rival moves to town, threatening Annie’s queen-bee status, Stephanie finds herself taking sides in a battle she never even knew existed, and finds that feeling invisible is a wound that can only be healed by standing up for who she is.