/, Dear Teen Me/Introducing teen me: Win a copy of Tempest!

First off, I’ll be announcing the winner of the Spew Story contest tomorrow morning on the blog so check back then!

And guess what? There’s another chance to win a personalized, signed copy of Tempest in this post, so keep reading!

In late 2010, I participated in the “Dear Teen Me” project, which is a group of authors writing letter to their younger self. The idea is full of awesomeness and since I still had the letter, I figured I’d post it today as a way to introduce the teenage version of Julie Cross to The Perfect Ten, my new teen advisory panel.

As I look back on the years that have passed between 1994 and now, I can hardly believe that was me and yet, that girl is still a part of who I am now. We all change but not so much that we can’t find pieces of ourselves in former versions. I consider it a sign of personal growth to look back and think how stupid my younger self was…hopefully all of you will be able to do the same in the years to come.

16 year old me in 1996

Dear Teen Me,

Okay, so I’m approaching this letter sort of like time-travel. Which means, I’m going to try to NOT tell you too much about the future because I know for a fact you remember poor Marty McFly disappearing in that picture of him and his family. And if you vanish, so do I.

I can’t remember exactly what occupied your mind or your time in 1993, but I know it’s not school work… aren’t you flunking Math? Since you’re not exactly in the smart Math like your best friend, you really shouldn’t be failing. What about English? You read the book, why haven’t you turned in the paper?

Alright, I’ll stop sounding like our mother. So you’re riding the “C” and “D” train. I get it. I will tell you one thing–it won’t be your demise. Despite the fact that many grownups in your life have told you (daily) that if your grades don’t improve you’ll be headed to community college via public transportation because everyone knows girls who don’t pass 8th grade Math never own a car. Ever.

Since I’m from the future and all, I know the one class you HATE worse than Math. Worse than English.

American History.

What if I told you, and I’m not saying it’s true since this could all be a big elaborate scheme conceived by the school counselor and our mother, but it’s possible that a few months from now, that “D” in American History will be an “A.” Your first “A” since early elementary school, before grades were actually based on completing assignments.

And that teacher who is really getting on your nerves, jumping up and down, being all excited about Colonel Sanders in The Civil War or whatever, he will eventually become one of your favorite teachers. Someone who will make school and academics three dimensional. Alive and real. Something that will stick with you long after 8th grade, long after high school. Long after college.

It will begin like this–the cool interesting vibe he brings to US History will spark your attention one day (when you’re slightly more awake than other days). Then he’ll make a reference to World War II and you’ll answer a question correctly because you’ll remember reading Number The Stars in 5th grade.

And just by paying attention and absorbing the material in class, you’ll manage a “B” on the next test and more importantly, before he hands out the tests, he’ll read a student’s essay question aloud as an example of an answer that received full credit. That essay will be yours and believe me, it will shock the hell out of you and everyone around you. But it will feel beyond amazing. Like hope. Like maybe, just for a little while each day, you can finally be the person your parents, your teachers, even your friends want you to be. But more importantly, you can be the person you’ve always wanted to be.

This is more than a good grade, more than a class, more than school. The experience you’re about to have will shape how you view yourself. After your essay is chosen as the perfect model and suddenly you have answers other students don’t, the world begins to turn. Flip upside down is probably more accurate. But when you walk into that classroom, for that semester and a half you have left of 8th grade, suddenly the words: loser, slacker, underachiever won’t exist. No one will be yapping about you not reaching your so-called “potential” because you’ll be there, riding that wave and loving every minute of it. Finally. Success is an amazing thing. So much better than potential.

I’ll leave you with one last tidbit of the near future. At the end of the school year, every teacher will sign your yearbook.

Two will actually write, “Wish you came to class on time more often… better luck in 9th grade.” Another will write, “Julie, you’re a smart girl. Hope to see you apply yourself in high school.” Your gym teacher will write, “Don’t forget your PE uniform next year!” An unnamed teacher will scribble a favorite message, “Wake up and pay attention, you might learn something on accident!”

But that one teacher that is driving you nuts with all his enthusiasm and ideas… he’ll write, “I expect great things from you in the future,” and he’ll mean it. And both of us know that no one ever says things like that to you.

One of the only regrets you’ll have, is not saying, “thank you.” Even years and years later (like when you’re 31) you’ll wish that you had said more.

So if you could, for me, take a minute away from the end-of-the-year excitement and tell your favorite teacher how much you appreciate what he does. Not just for you, but for everyone. It matters more than he could ever realize.

Thank you to all the teachers who followed this one. Every one of you has impacted my life in a way that left me with no regrets. Not everything went perfect, far from it, but every step was important. So younger me, enjoy the moment and soak in the success that you will see again someday, I promise. Even if it takes a while, it will happen.

Your 31 year old self


Okay, now for the contest! I’m going have this one just for the younger crowd, however International is fine…so Middle School, High school, or College (University) kids only. Write a short note, 250 words or less (and yeah, I know mine is much longer than that) to yourself, two years ago. Just a little bit of advice for that younger you. What would you change? What advice would you give him/her? Paste your note in the comment section of this post.

For this one, I’ll give you guys all the way until next Friday, March 2 at Midnight. I’ll announce a winner on Sunday, March 4. The Perfect 10 will be sharing there own notes in the comments.


About the Author:


  1. Zareen aka Taco February 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I really love this post, Julie! My attempt at a letter to myself is below.

    Dear 15-year-old me,

    Well, this is a little odd, yes? I'll do my best to keep from freaking you out about future events, but no promises.

    How's that freshman year of high school going? Yes, I'm sure you're doing well in your honors classes and hating every minute of physical education. It won't get any better next year, but believe me, you'll be so happy when junior year rolls around and you won't have to deal with weekly timed mile runs.

    What about debate? That one is more of a challenge, huh? I'm sure you're struggling now, wondering if you'll ever master speaking in front of a crowd. Don't be afraid. When your knees start to buckle and you think you've forgotten every word of your speech, just stop and breathe. You will master it. You'll shock your judges and become, as your coach eventually says, the "underdog turned champion" at state qualifiers because something amazing happens. And then you'll know that you were made to be something more than just the reserved girl in class, more than just a debater, more than just a flicker of light in the night sky. You'll shine. Just wait and see.

    Your 17-year-old self

  2. Hannah050 February 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    I'm not entering the contest but here's mine!
    Dear 13 year old me,
    Hey so its you, at 15, we made it to high school! Yay! Look I know you are confused and you don't know who your friends are right now. I know a girl is going to text you somthing mean and it's going to make you cry. But I want you to know that you are so much stronger than her, and the friendships you make this year are going to last for years. Be strong it's gonna be a hard year but you will come out on top.
    Future self

  3. Julie February 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    I Love this, Zareen! As I was reading, I caught myself taking deep calming breaths…I, too, have a tiny fear of public speaking and lately seem to always have something coming up that requires speaking in a microphone.

    And seriously…Weekly timed miles? That's just wrong.

  4. Forever Lost in Books February 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Great idea!

    Dear 11 years old me,

    now, you're in… what? Fifth grade? And you're good in English…. but not as good as you'll be if you do what I did… which is reading books. You're probably having difficulty reading this (just a little), because you're English is not at its best, and because you're mainly French.

    And so, I'm saying, don,t be afraid of vampires. Because, even though Miss Connie, your fifth grade teacher tells you there are vamps in Twilight, don't be afraid. Because vampires are hot and sexy! You'll find yourself rereading them so much your parents will think you're gone from the planet.

    I'd also say, even though I'm still lacking of that, be confident in your grades. You're the nerd of the class and you're so stressed out about your grades… but you don't need to be, because you KNOW what you are capable of. I know I still am lacking confidence… but please be strong.

    Your 13 years old self

    And… if I win, here's my email : foreverlostinbooks(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. Julie February 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm - Reply


    I was lucky enough to be a teen before mean girls were able to follow you home via text, Facebook, twitter, etc…I feel for all of you that have moments where you feel like you escape from a person or situation. I bet would have been nice to have your future self let you know that you are going to survive this and it does get better.

    Mean girls suck. They should all be shipped to an island and left to provide us entertainment through a reality show called, "Meanest Mean Girl."

    Any producers out there want to option this idea? I'll give it to you for free.

  6. Monica G Lopez February 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Dear 11-year-old Monica Lopez,

    Hey! Yeah, you! It's your 13-year-old self here. It's ur first year of middle school and you kind of have a crush on your best friend's "boyfriend". YOUR ONLY 11! You really like him blah, hormones, blah. I don't care! Stay away from him at all costs! Trust me, your grades were pretty good that year but they could of been straight-A's and um *whispers* it'll avoid a "talk" with our parents.

    Follow my advice,
    Future (slightly wiser-ish) self 🙂

  7. Monica G Lopez February 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    I use to be TERRIFIED of vampires. But then I found out vampires could go all shiny and what-not. Don't worry 11 years old me, I was and am the nerd of the class everyday, all day 🙂 Follow your older-self's advice. 🙂

  8. strongasyouwere February 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Great, great, great contest. Here's my entry. In case I win (which I hope!) you can find my mail in my profile 🙂

    Dear 16 years old me,
    Just listen to me. I know this may sound weird to you, and I know that you're probably scared about this letter. In two years, you won't be anymore thanks to all the Doctor Who episodes watching.
    I'm starting this crazy loop, which will lead you, at age 18, to write a letter to your past self. it's crazy, it's dangerous, but I somehow have to do it and you should follow my orders in order to save my, our life.
    Listen to this: mistakes are ok. Do NOT be afraid to make mistakes. That's what ruined me in the first place, and that's exactly why I'm hoping you won't be afraid as I'd been. That's why I'm writing right now.
    Allow yourself to BE yourself! Our world is not fair at all, I know that. But our life is. And everything you'll give to the world, life will give you back. Be not afraid of stepping through the cracks. You're a strong young man, stronger than you know.
    Be free.
    And remember to write this exact mail two years in the future from wherever in time and space you are now, or I'll probably be erased for creating this loop. I would not like that, thank you.

    With love,
    Your 18 years old self

  9. Ashley @ What's Your Story? February 25, 2012 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Dear 15 year old Ashley,

    Yes, it is you from the future. Just take a second and listen to me, all right? I have something to say to you, and I want you to listen well.

    Don't be afraid.

    Of what?


    Let go of all that anxiety you're holding on to, and just let yourself live. Things will work out in the end, as long as you just put all of your energy into your creativity. I know, it's not always easy, and I know, there are those people that will make fun of you–terribly–for it, for your singing and your acting. And your love of reading, especially that. But you know what? It's going to work out. Stop reading in the corner behind the lockers where no one can see you because you're afraid of what they might think. Who cares? Trust me, you shouldn't. And I know it's hard, but there will come a day when you don't care anymore, and it'll be glorious after that. You'll rule the world, because NO ONE will ever be able to bring you down–and they'll try, trust me, but you'll be stronger than that.

    And one other thing. Wear that Harry Potter shirt to school on a T-Shirt Friday. There is a very cute, sweet guy who happens to like reading too…. 😉

    Love and strength,
    17 year old Ashley

  10. Elyssa Sayers February 25, 2012 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    I love this idea! Well, here goes…

    Dear 12 year old me,
    Before you commit yourself to some kind of institution for reading this, just hear me out. I can't really give you any spoilers, because it might affect the time-space contiuum or something like that. So just trust me on this.

    First things first: STAY AWAY FROM THE INTERNET. It will take up too much of your time, and you'll get into trouble! Too many sleepless nights will get you nowhere.

    Can't really remember much of what happened that year (probably slept through most of the classes…),so basically just try harder in Maths. I know it's hard, and some of it seems like something that just came out of a mathematican's dissertation, but one day, you'll start to understand and turn those D's into B's.

    I know that you hate English at the moment, but in two years time, you will get the most amazing teacher who actually inspires you to carry on with English in college. That teacher will become your favourite teacher, and you will actually bother to do the work and do it well. So well in fact, that you become one of her best students.

    And I know that what you hate even more than English is Drama, but trust me, you will get the best teacher there ever was in a few years, and he will be the first one to believe that you can do it. He will inspire you to bother with school and to do well in the subject. In a couple years, you'll become good friends with this guy and exchange some friendly banter every lesson. You'll do so well without even realising your potential, until he announces that you and one other student have the ability to get an A* in your final piece.
    This could be the turning point for you; it might inspire you to excel and do well for all of these people. Make them proud to know you.

    Whatever you do, don't give up on school just because some people don't give you A's and B's and just make no effort to connect with you. Just wait. Those few special people will make it into your life and help make you into the person you were meant to be. They will help you with your mistakes, and show you how a successful human being is made.
    Keep this in mind when you're in those boring lessons, and just do your best.

    Also, try and do some more after school things; archery looks pretty fun 😉

    Basically, what I'm trying to say, is that no matter what happens in life, there is always something else on it's way. Whether it's good or bad, no one knows, but you can't know unless you embrace both of them.
    Do your best.

    With love,
    Your 15 year old self

  11. Sara February 26, 2012 at 12:32 am - Reply

    Hi Julie! This is an awesome idea! I wish I had a letter right now from my future self… Here's my note to myself two years ago 🙂 (I LOVE "Tempest" by the way! Can't wait for the second book! 😀 )

    Dear Sophomore Sara,
    I’m not really sure how to start a letter like this. Hi? How’s school? I don’t know. You were always (and still are) awkward like this…
    I know what you’re thinking right now. What’s it like being senior? Do I—we?—have a boyfriend? Good grades? Am I valedictorian? Class president? Well, I’m not going to answer any of those. Because, frankly, they don’t matter. You don’t always have to be the smartest, the best, and the prettiest. Just being your normal, dorky self is more than enough. Don’t take 4 advanced placement classes during your senior year; it’ll only add to the college planning stress. Don’t compare yourself to your friends and your sister; you shouldn’t be afraid to be your own person. Don’t compare yourself to the “popular girls;” beauty is WAY more than appearance. Please, please, please don’t forget to have fun. Your family loves you, and it’s not going to make you a weird outcast to spend a Friday night with them instead of your friends. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Smile. Laugh. And most importantly: be yourself.

    See you around ;P

    Senior Sara

  12. Julie February 26, 2012 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Wait…was the "talk" with you parents about lack of straight A's or the hormone induced, unwanted crush? Neither sound very fun, though 🙂

  13. Julie February 26, 2012 at 1:20 am - Reply

    Oh man…very true words. Be yourself. And be prepared to screw up. A bunch. Nicely said.

  14. Julie February 26, 2012 at 1:22 am - Reply

    Omg…love the hint at the end 🙂

  15. Julie February 26, 2012 at 1:26 am - Reply

    I wish I could tell my younger by a few months self to stay away from the internet and avoid reading all the one star reviews of Tempest. Would have saved me a ton of drama. But I have a feeling that me, wouldn't have listened.

  16. Julie February 26, 2012 at 1:30 am - Reply

    Love this, Sara. You and I had very different concerns in high school and yet, the basics are all the same…be confident, don't worry if you're less than perfect, and don't sweat the small stuff.

    I hope you can your own advice for the rest of the school year and have some fun 🙂

    And thanks so much for reading Tempest! Glad you enjoyed it.

  17. REBECCA@ReadingWishes February 26, 2012 at 1:39 am - Reply

    Great post! And here goes my attempt.

    Dear 13 year old me,

    Where to begin! A lot has definitely changed, but then again quite a few things are still the same.
    You still feel sick, even two years later. You've continued to have all the tests under the sun and still, zilch is found. Nada. They still don't know what causes that on going, forever, constantly there nausea. I know it hard, boy is it hard, but there's not much you can do. All I can advise it that you hang in there. Look on the bright side, those terrible headaches have subdued.

    Remember when you attended school but all you lasted was til recess or a few periods? Well that’s no longer a problem. You now do school from home. Might not be the most exciting thing (and more recently it’s gotten stressful) but for now, it’s the only choice.

    You still continue to read and now have yourself a blog! It’s fun and the amount of friends you’ll make and the authors you’ll get to know is so rewarding!

    Lee will travel to America for 6 months to study. Of course you miss her, but don’t worry, the time is going fast.

    Mum isn’t well, but she is getting better. Slowly, slowly.

    Although you don’t see Ant as much as you would like, she still means the world to you. You’ve learnt that, even though she’s your best friend, it doesn’t matter anymore if she views you as her bestie. All that matters is that your still friends and that you haven’t lost contact after 12 years!

    Wishing you all the best in everything you do,

  18. Sara February 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Thanks! Exactly. All that matters is that you're you and no one can take that away from you.

    I definitely will! 🙂

    You're welcome! I'll be following your blog from now on to keep updated with everything 😀

  19. Hannah050 February 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    I would watch that show! 😀 I have to say the only positive thing about mean girls is that when all is said and done you realize you were stronger than you thought.

  20. Elyssa Sayers February 26, 2012 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    If only we really could send a letter to our past selves…

  21. Monica G Lopez February 27, 2012 at 12:47 am - Reply

    The 2nd one . . . 🙂

  22. sannie February 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Dear 19 year old me (Old university student here)

    What to tell you? Living in the United Kingdom is far more different from Denmark, and you will find yourself craving weird Danish dishes you never thought you would actually miss. University is nothing like you imagined! The lectures are abstracts and most students only care about the next party!

    However you will find people more alike you, so you won't be so alone as before. You will loose connection to your Danish friends, and your father will never reply to your emails!

    Hope you are having fun and enjoy Denmark as much as you can!
    Kind regards,
    Yourself, just a tad older

  23. Julie February 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. trayche February 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Dear 14 years old me.

    Go to study. That's my first advice for you. I now realise how important is to study hard. And maths. It won't be hard if you start studing. And staright A-s will make you proud. And happy, you should know that.

    Start reading books. I know you hate the books that give you from school, they are boring, so go to the library and start reading something nice. Agatha Christie maybe?

    Go and play football sometimes. Here, you're loving it but you realise you started playing it late, so you're not as good as the others.

    And finally, don't dump Elena. You will never find a girl like her. 😉

    Wish you all the best,
    Trayche, you at 16.

  25. Julie February 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Oh no! please tell me it worked out with Elana?!

  26. trayche February 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    no it didn't :S i dumped her few months ago, and it's really hard to find a girl like her 🙁
    btw. i'm approaching this momentto say big THANK YOU for giving us the opportunity of winning TEMPEST.
    I'm always in ''time'' with the book. i'm reading all the comments on blogs, goodreads. and sometimes i fell jelous i can't read this book. i know i know it sounds crazy but it is how it is. so THANKS again 🙂
    greetings from Macedonia 🙂

  27. trayche February 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. karatewoman4 February 29, 2012 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Dear 16 year old me (it’s a good thing I kept a diary about this year eh?)
    Honestly, I don’t want to change much, but I just want to say that you should give up on that guy you keep flirting with… You know he doesn’t like you that way and I bet this is even the time where he has a girlfriend. Just keep him as a friend; he can be a really good one at that. Believe me I know. 😉
    As for school… you’re a what? Freshman or something? Yah I know you hate history… I still do. Just keep doing your best and study hard, so that when that test shows up next year in history class, you’ll be ready. On the studying note, remember to always study, good habits are important. Whether you think you know the stuff or not, make sure to give each review a run through before you get settled to take your test.
    You’ve also been writing your books right? Keep going at it. Practice makes perfect, I predict that one day you’ll be so good to publish an actual book! (Not that that’s happened…)
    There’s so much stuff that’s changed between your time and mine, I wish I could tell you more. I wish I could tell you what’s coming and maybe some loto-numbers to give to your parents, but that’d be cheating. All I can say is try your hardest at everything, don’t give up, and when the going gets tough, pray. 
    Love, You’re bestest friend ever, yourself.

  29. Myra February 29, 2012 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Dear 14 year old me,

    Let me start off by saying College is a whole lot better than High School and you chose your classes well. Your friends are pretty much the same and you even share classes with a few of them. Study hard, don't get slack just because your current school's education system is a bit shotty, do the best you can!
    I can't say there's anything I want you to change, but the guy who asks you out next year, say no, it would save a whole heap of drama. Your future doesn't have much on the guy front but I'm sure one day love will come our way.
    My mystical future-telling senses are tingling and I can see a holiday in your future… your first overseas holiday in fact! So I'd recommend saving up, then spending it all overseas, it's worth it.
    I can't think of much more, though your brain is still doing a poor job in the memory department.
    Lots of love, your still-oh-so-awesome self. xx

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