Teen Talent: Brittany MacLeod on loving the first year of your teens
Posted by inkpop on October 5, 2009
The 14-year-old author reflects on 113 Things to Do By 13
#14: Discover your talent and work on it — be it art, singing, acting, sports … whatever!
#21: Accept your changing body and not-so-perfect parts.
#46: Have a first crush and know how to deal.
These are just three of the things author Brittany MacLeod recommends in her pre-teen to-do list, 113 Things to Do By 13, released in May. Dedicated to “tweenagers everywhere,” the 128-page guide includes insight and advice from dozens of experts and celebs including travel insight from Hilary Duff, writing tips from Michael Buckley (author of The Sisters Grimm), and wise words from the Jonas Brothers, Avril Lavigne, Selena Gomez, and Taylor Swift.
For 14-year-old MacLeod, the ups and downs of age 13 are fresh in the author’s mind: School sucks, friend drama ensues, and social pressures take their toll. But she chooses to focus on the bright side: “Instead of thinking ‘13 is an unlucky number,’ you should think, ‘It’s actually a good number.’ You’re officially a teenager now,” she says.
Co-written with her mom, Terri MacLeod, an Access Hollywood producer, inkpop Teen Talent MacLeod talks from her New York Upper West Side apartment about clicking with cliques, meeting Zac Efron, and being lucky enough to have a mom who “gets it.”
inkpop: Is it hard to be 13?
Brittany MacLeod: Yes, totally. I realized, “This is going to be the year when you make your friends for life.” Then schoolwork piled up, and I freaked out. I went to my mom and said, “What do I do?” My mom was my advice book.
What are some of the challenges you dealt with at 13?
B.M.: Some of the girls at school were really close friends, but when they had a huge fight, the whole class split in two. I was friends with both of them, so I got stuck in the middle. … And teachers get on your back to do well. If you don’t do well, you have to talk with them after school — but you’d rather hang out with friends.
Did your friends go through the same 13-year-old woes?
B.M.: Everybody goes through the same kinds of problems when they’re 13. Every girl, I think — I don’t know about guys — feels uncomfortable and like no one wants to talk to her. But you have to go through it.
What’s it like to have a mom who gets it?
B.M.: Definitely worth it. I tell my mom about problems I’m dealing with and she says, “Figure out every single day. Have your day of friends, your day of school, and so on.”
What’s life like now that you’re 14?
B.M.: Still difficult. My mom says, “High school is going to get worse each year. You’re just going to have to get used to it.” [laughs] I realize that the schoolwork and gossip could get worse each year. People find new rumors to spread, but if you hear a rumor, don’t spread it, because someone will figure it out and come up to you and say, ‘Oh, you said that? Thanks.’” … I have a best friend, and flow in and out of cliques at my school — I don’t have one clique of my own.
Terri, what was life like when you were 13?
Terri MacLeod: I had such a horrible experience with mean girls in eighth grade that when I entered ninth grade, I never wanted to be part of a group again. My middle-school experience involved “they like you one week and they hate you the next,” and I became the girl they hated for a couple of weeks. That experience scarred me going into high school and even now — to me, girls in packs don’t treat each other well.
At that age, you’re thinking a lot about who you are and what others expect you to be. The idea of [113 Things to Do Before 13] is that when you’re 14 and going to school, you feel a bit better about yourself, so that school pressures and dramas don’t take over your life. You feel good about whether you’re, say, an artist, musician, writer, or play sports, so that you’ve got a main focus. Find something that you feel passionate about, and don’t worry if you’re not the most popular person in the class.
Brittany, what was the funnest part of writing 113 Things to Do By 13?
B.M.: I asked P. Diddy what people should do before 13, and he said, “Save money.” Zac Efron was so nice to me — he talked about his family and gave me a hug. Some people think celebs are aliens, but they’re not. They’re actually real and nice people.
Have you done all 113 things in your book?
B.M.: No, but I’ve done most of them. I kept a journal, painted each one of my toenails a different color, and discovered my secret talent: wiggling my ears. I’ve got a friend who can lick her elbow.
What do you want to do after high school?
B.M.: I want to go to college and travel the world and write about my experiences in Africa and China, with video, too.
Brittany MacLeod’s Favorite …
• The Twilight series (“I’ve read it three times.”)
• The Percy Jackson series (“I’m a little dorky about mythology. It’s about a boy who’s half god and half human. There’s a movie coming out in February .”
• History books (“Like King Arthur.”)
Magazines: J-14, Twist, Us, Pop, Seventeen (“I love the makeup and hair stuff in Seventeen and reading about how real girls deal with their horror stories.”)
TV: Saved By the Bell (“I wish I grew up in the ’70s or the ’80s or whenever that was.”)