I am a 28-year-old adult woman, but for some reason I can’t stop reading Young Adult novels. I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I have to, at some point, move on to more “adult” books (whatever that means.) The current book I’m reading is titled “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” which also happens to be a Netflix movie. I don’t want to give any plot points away, but in order for me to write about it, I need to explain it a tiny bit, so I’ll just write what’s on the back of the book:
“They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved – five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.”
Basically, the TLDR version is instead of keeping a diary, the protagonist, Lara Jean, writes love letters to boys individually that she keeps in a hat box and one day they all get mailed to each of the 5 boys she “wrote” them to.
As I am reading this, teenage me is dying inside. As someone who recently found some old diaries of mine, I couldn’t even begin to imagine what would happen if the people who I wrote about in those diaries saw those pages. Not only are they absolutely cringe worthy, but anyone who was a teenage girl at one point knows that you thought you “loved” every boy you ever had a crush on. I sounded like these boys were the absolute loves of my life, when I guarantee I never even told them I had a crush on them. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what these boys would think if they had seen the things that I had written in my diary. I was very shy as a teenager, and I’d say that spilled a bit into my adult life (but mostly manifests as anxiety rather than “shyness.”) I wonder if having something happen like that would have absolutely ruined me, or forced me to come out of my shell and open up to people a little bit.
But then that got me to thinking as to why teenage me never spilled my feelings out. Truthfully, we all know why; being a teenager is hard and rejection is even harder. Teenagers are self-conscious, and other teenagers can be mean and cruel. They don’t have the tools handle those kinds of moments in their life. And for teenagers, the little moments are the big moments.
But I had known then, what I know now, I would just tell them; say how I feel without any fear of what may happen. If I had known then that none of that silliness really matters, and life moves on, even after the tough times, the sad times and yes, even after awkward times (even though you will think about those randomly for the rest of your life), then I think I would have been more bold, and more daring about how I presented myself to people. Just have been authentically me. I’ve spent so much time in my shell since I was a teenager that I’m only now starting to come out and realize if you don’t say what you feel now, then when are you ever going to? I think it would be really funny to see a teenage girl (or boy) be absolutely 100 percent honest to someone they have a crush on, or have feelings for, because most adults can’t even do that. Why is it so hard for people to say how they feel with 100 percent honesty?
Now I haven’t finished the book yet, so I can’t say how it works out for Lara Jean, but I’d like to think about a world where it worked out for my teenage self. Where I was just honest and open about my feelings 100 percent of the time. I said what I felt, and I meant it. And maybe, one day, 28-year-old me can also be that way.