Elena Valentine

CEO Skill Scout

Dear 13 year old Elena,

This year has been one of many “firsts” for you.

First kiss
First smoke
First drunk experience
First set of contacts
First time you lied to your parents consistently about where you were going
First daytime (Readers note: some of you will know what this means)

It’s “obvious” you know a lot about the world. But I’m here to tell you mini Queen — you don’t even know the half of it. Dare I even say a quarter of it. The world is a hell of a lot bigger than Rogers park, the McDonald’s on Kedzie, Lincolnwood Mall and the High Ridge YMCA.

8th grade will be the weirdest and most anxiety ridden year that you’ll ever have socially. High school and college won’t be nearly as hard.

Right now you’re trying to be something you are not. If it feels exhausting to be their friends it’s because it is. Real friends won’t make you feel that way.

They also wouldn’t threaten you by telling you they’d get their sister to beat you up. You’re going to have dreams about this bully and what you would have wanted to say to them well into your teens, 20’s, and 30’s. Perhaps a part of them and what they represent will live with you forever. They are an important lesson in your life. You will win just by being you.

Grades and academic pursuits are not everything

And in fact, you will quickly learn by going to that selective enrollment high school that you have a loonnngg ways to go. Let’s just say you are a big fish in a small neighborhood public school pond right now. The mental ass kicking will come soon enough. And you will have earned that B-.

Love won’t evade you.


In fact you’ll have the kind of school crush, neighborhood block, Love & Basketball kind of love that 13-year old Elena daydreams about. And that’s because he is literally all of that. That bowl cut, wide eyed, long lashes, all the girls got crushes on, basketball playing Emilio Valentine is going to pop up a few times for you. So don’t stress that it didn’t work out when you were 11… or 14…or 24 (first half). You are growing to become the best version of yourselves. And when the universe is ready you’ll know it. He’ll be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

You’ll be an artist but it won’t be how you think.

You can tell Daddy that all those art camps have been worth it. You’ll make a living doing it and not in the starving artist kind of way.  You don’t even know what Human Resources is yet. But, it’s going to play a big role in this oddly enough. Tell everyone not to worry and to just trust you. More importantly trust yourself. You’ve got a ton of hustle and creativity. That will only increase as you get older.

Your parents actually know what they’re talking about.

In fact, they’re surprisingly pretty dope. You’ll learn soon enough that they were once teenagers too. They had the same angsts, heartbreaks, social pressures. For godsakes Mitchell (stepdad) camped out in a cave in Hawaii for several months. Your Dad went through that goth, leather boots, chainmail phase when you were 11. That scared the shit out of you. But this would be the first of many times your parents would reveal that they are indeed simply human. Humans still ‘adulting’ well into their 40s and 50s.

Oh and his spoken word poetry…let’s not forget that. You’re so embarrassed by him on stage. Especially because he yells so much. Your dad was and is a Heyoka. The most unconventional renaissance man you’ve ever met. Embrace him. He’s one of the coolest things about you. You get his stage presence from him. And when people catch you presenting with odd rhythm and accented syllables– know that came from many years forcibly sitting through open mics.

And your mom? She’s not as crazy or as rigid as you think. How cool is it that she is a nursing professor while at the same time practices Eastern medicine, Native American healing and every “woo woo” thing imaginable. You won’t realize it until many years from now just how important that “woo woo” is to connecting to the ancestors, the spirits, and eventually to her.

Love your mom a whole whole lot.

No one lives forever.

But her especially. You’ve got less than 10 years with her. Hug her more. Kiss her more. And stop talking back so damn much. But despite knowing this fact mini Queen, I can tell you that she is way more of a powerhouse in spirit. I get that you seek her approval a ton. But do know, she is so proud of you now. And when you get to my age she is going to be even more hella proud of the woman you have become.

13-year old Elena, you have such a blessed life with a family who loves you. They have afforded you most everything you could ever need and want. They see endless possibilities in and for you. You are already your ancestors wildest dreams.

I end with this. When shit gets hard never forget the mantra she has taught you: Believe in God, Believe in yourself and remember that you are always a part of this family. Those are 3 things that will always be true for you.  Now go get em mini Queen. High School is about to start and you’re going to slay– except with Emilio. He’ll still be an idiot for awhile.

P.S. The lip liner and super thin eye brows are a phase. 🙃

P.P.S. I wish I could stop you from dying your hair strawberry blonde and straightening it…big big big mistake. Embrace the brown hair and all the curls. You’ll soon realize that long brown curly hair is some ‘classic sexy’ right there.

Thank you Elena Valentine for writing A Letter To My 13 Year Old Self.

Skill Scout is a workplace film production company. If authenticity in your employer brand matters to you, get in touch with Elena or a member of her team.

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