Last night, your mom sent me the sweetest email. She told me that you are 13, and found my blog when you Googled your own name. I think it’s so cool that you have continued to read my posts, and that from hundreds of miles away, we are connected. It’s like I have a friend that I never knew about. If my friends Paul Zimmerman-Clayton or Elliott Eicheldinger were to Google their names, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t find blog friends. So you and I are lucky.
First off, you have the greatest name. My parents thought about naming me Molly, but Molly Parsons sounded too much like Dolly Parton, so they went with Annie. My real name is Anne, but I’ve never been an “Anne.” In fact, I’ve decided that if I ever get married, I’m going to drop my middle name and officially change my name to Annie Parsons [Something] – that way, I can forever be called “Annie P” or “AP,” two very frequent nicknames that I’ve grown fond of.
And if I never get married, I might do it anyway: legally change my first name to “Annie.” And then maybe add some awesome name to the end, like Annie Parsons Fox or something. Or maybe I’ll just change my name to Octavia?
So, not knowing anything about you aside from the fact that you’re named Annie Parsons and you’re 13 and you read my blog, I’m wondering what it is that I could say to you — or to any other 13-year old who might happen across this post. I don’t claim to know much about this world or this life, but if I could go back and talk to myself at 13, this is what I would say.
Learn to use chopsticks. Somewhere, someday, you’ll be glad that you know how.
Read a lot of books. Books are amazing, and there are way too many good ones to ever read them all. I recommend A Little Princess and The Secret Garden and A Wrinkle In Time.
People will tell you that there’s no such thing as magic, but they’re wrong. Keep your eyes peeled for beauty. Don’t let anyone steal your imagination.
Sometimes it can be hard to be nice to the people that we love the most, but be nice to your family. Love them. If you have siblings, they can be your best friends. So can your mom. So can your dad. I didn’t realize this until after I moved away from home at 18, but I wish I had learned it sooner.
Whatever it is that you love — whether it’s piano or art or softball or ballet or whatever — keep doing it. Practice a lot. You have this window of time to learn and grow and improve, and you’ll be so thankful someday that you took the time to stretch yourself.
Try not to gossip. It might not win you popularity points, but it will win you friendship points, which are so much better.
It’s fine if you haven’t kissed a boy yet. It’s TOTALLY fine. I didn’t know that at 13 — and as I watched my friends get kissed, one by one, I started to feel like I was an ugly snail, the one that no one ever wanted. And trust me, it took me a long time to get kissed. Like, a lot more years past age 13. But then it happened, and it was great, and it didn’t matter how old I was.
And finally, things totally get better. I don’t know, Annie — you might be the most popular girl in your class, and feel confident and beautiful and completely awesome. But at 13, I sure didn’t. I felt awkward and clumsy and never knew what to say or how to be “cool.” I wanted people to like me (and yeah, of course I still do). But once I got to college, I realized that most people were starting to discover that they’d much rather hang out with those who are interesting, and kind, and uniquely themselves.
So if you’re feeling super lame today, don’t. Just keep being exactly who you are. It’s a good thing — I know it.