Inside Amy Schumer writer Jessi Klein stars in Netflix’s new animated series Big Mouth, about adventures in puberty. Here, she pens a letter to her future teenager daughter, recounting her own awkward journey to where she is today.
Dear Future Teenage Daughter,
First of all, no matter what’s going on with you, I can confidently tell you that you’re doing a better job at being a teenage girl than I did. I wore my pants up to my armpits and ate a street-cart hot dog and a pack of Rolos for lunch every day.
I really and truly sucked at being a teenage girl; but in fairness, it sucks for mostly all of them. And you have to believe me, it does get better, but don’t let my current appearance make you doubt that. At this moment, I am 42 years old and have been up since 5 a.m. with my toddler, and I’m exhausted and haven’t lost the baby weight yet (I don’t think it’s still considered baby weight though when your kid is 2?). I have giant circles under my eyes and I know that I’m half-failing at everything I do because I’m a little overwhelmed all the time. BUT (and here’s the good part—I promise there’s a good part), what’s really and truly better is this: I feel so much happier and confident now, even with the circles and the extra pounds and the failing, than I did when I was your age.
When I was a teenage girl, my self-esteem was so tied up in what other people thought of me—whether I was pretty enough, cool enough, popular enough, skinny enough, ETCETERA. And I didn’t feel like I was any of those things. What I didn’t know was, almost no one really ever feels those things when they’re a teenager, even the ones who are pretending they do. And I’m middle-aged AF so we didn’t even have Instagram filters to pretend with, we just had to try to pretend in person all the time.
I wish someone had told me that all the angst and glasses and shyness and braces and having no boyfriend and being the most flat-chested girl in the class—those were all qualities that were gonna cocoon into the things that make me who I am today. I learned to value compassion, and kindness, and how important it is to reach out to people so they feel less alone. (I remember the alone part was the hardest part. It always is.) I wasn’t the prettiest girl in the class, so I became the funny one, and being the funny one is what helped me become a writer, and writing isn’t just what I do for a living, it’s who I am, and it gives me incredible joy.
VIDEO: Big Mouth Teaser Trailer
Still, I know the waiting sucks. It’s so hard to envision things ever feeling any different than they do now, no matter how hard I try to convince you that they will. That’s okay too. But maybe just try to remember this: The more you feel like you are the only one going through something, the more it means YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE! And the embarrassing things you don’t want anyone to know, in fact, are the very things that, if you dared to share them, would connect you in deep and amazing ways to the people around you. I say this as someone who wrote a book where I admit about 50 embarrassing things about myself per page, and it became a New York Times best-seller! If you’d told 13-year-old me that would happen someday, I absolutely wouldn’t have believed it. See how that works?