So you worry that your kids are misspelling words at age 15? You wish there was more gravitas to their writing? You figure by now they’d be showing signs of sophistication in their prose?
Keep reading. I’m about to humiliate myself in your service.
A childhood friend (during a COVID cleaning spree) discovered two aerogrammes I sent to her when I was 15 while she was in Israel. She messaged copies to me. I clicked open the scanned documents eager to read my thoughts, imagining some teenage depth or evidence of the writer I’ve become.
Instead, I mix up “your” and “you’re,” I’m obsessed with boys, I’m eager to be liked (cringe-worthy levels), and I cuss a blue streak like the “rebellious-for-a-summer-in-a-letter” good girl that I was. It was, to put a point on it, embarrassing.
Kinda wished I hadn’t had to reacquaint myself with that girl! My writing shows zero promise. And I was an Honor’s English student.
I did manage to tell the story of a snake my cat brought into the house and how my dad and my friend’s dad chased it out the front door, and in the second letter, I lamented that the cute junior counselor at my sleep-away summer camp didn’t know I existed. Oh the humanity! Braces, 4’10” —not the hot girl of Malibu canyon, that’s for sure.
Plot twist: by the end of camp, he took me on my first date (Star Wars!), gave me my first kiss and turned into a boyfriend after camp ended. So a “cloying hunger to be liked” must’ve been his thing.
Point being: when writing essays, I could pull it together, and perform well enough. But I also know if I read those essays now, I’d be appalled at their gaffes and lack of insight. My personal writing was rambly, chaotic teen stuff—no patience for vetted punctuation or spelling.
Because I was 15. A little boy crazy. A lot inexperienced. Still finding my voice, myself, my friends, my personality.
What I had going for me? Pure love of self-expression. That was enough…and got me all the way here, today. No one ruined writing for me.
So breathe easier. There’s time. Enjoy your gangly, neurotic young people. It’s not easy becoming themselves, or writing about it.
This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!