Dear Me

Dear 16 Year Old Me,

I have so much to share with you. How I wish I could reach through time to give you a hug and tell you how much you have to offer, that your worth is not measured by gleaming tresses, cool clothes, or a popularity contest, that when you are older you will be a lot more comfortable with who you are. That old adage of you’re not getting older, you’re getting better definitely applies to you, so keep the faith.

You are worthy. Just because you are bussed in from your little town of about 2,000 residents—including the cows—to the nearest high school does not mean you are any less talented than the the city kids.  About twenty years after you graduate you will learn that you were in the top 30 out of over 220 students. So jump in and go get ‘em, tiger. Be open, be confident, be yourself, and be a friend, and you can’t go wrong.

You have always been pretty shy, although you will get over it. Actually, people will be in shock when they discover the friendly adult they know used to be a quiet person. Returning to that reticence occasionally wouldn’t be a bad thing, either, as you can learn so much when you stop talking.

Don’t believe everything you hear that confirms your lack of confidence. This started in your freshman year when you wanted to try out for chorus. Do you remember someone said you would have to sing by sight reading in front of the whole group? You never went to see the teacher to see if it was true. You just never tried out. A shame, because you have a nice voice, and  now is the time to use it. In a few short years,  you will pass out in the E.R.,  hit your face and voice box on a metal tray on your way down, and your singing voice will never be quite the same, although you will be ok. Go try out for chorus and see where it leads. Success and failure are both an option, and neither are generally fatal.

My teen self and my big brother

When you are a junior this lack of belief will come up again. A guidance counselor will meet with you supposedly to provide guidance about life beyond high school. He will ask if there is anything you are interested in. Certainly tell him you’d like to be a teacher, just as you planned to. Only this time, when he shocks you by sneering, “What college would ever want you?” be prepared to laugh it off and  say, “Well, I guess we won’t know that until I send out the applications, will we?” Turns out he was angry at your dad, a fantastically talented educator, and he was getting back at him through you. Oh, and go ask for a different counselor. That one is a real jerk.

 

You will face this doubt again as a parent of a fifth grade daughter whose behavior vexes you and her teachers. When you ask if ADD might be an issue, her teacher dismisses your concerns. Only when your daughter reaches college does she get tested, and yes, she has ADD. The medication changes her life, so believe in yourself. Trust those instincts.

You are a kind and happy person, although you can be too trusting. When you are a little older, and out at night exploring the night life of a city, think twice about getting into that car you think is a taxi. It’s not. And that older gentleman driving it has mistaken you for something you are not. It ends well, with many flustered and embarrassed apologies, but still. . . Trust, but verify.

Treat yourself  like the treasure you are. Once you graduate, you will move close to the Big Apple, where there will be many temptations. You don’t like being single, and you don’t feel especially attractive. To quote an old country song, you start looking for love in all the wrong places. You have so much to offer and the boyfriend you long for is busy growing into the amazing man you will marry. Patience, child, patience. He will be more than worth the wait, and even he admits that you never would have hit it off if you had met sooner.

So, there actually isn’t a whole lot else I would recommend. Well, there is, but if I removed all the obstacles you would miss  out on so much growth and learning. Plus, you wouldn’tbe able to laugh at those really bad fashion choices from the eighties. You will especially know one of the worst—the bright teal and hot pink, large, floral pattern leggings and matching jacket—when you see it through the lens of time.

My final words are these, dear Kimberly. Write them on your heart and live by them fearlessly and joyfully.

Love who you are.

Believe in yourself.

Find happiness in every season.

You are as wonderful a person as your parents say.

 

Love and kisses,

Your older, much wiser but still learning all the time, generally happier self

 

Sharing letters to our teen selves at Chatting with the Sky.

Question: What would you tell your teen self? Is there something rattling around that needs closure or forgiveness? I’d love to have you share your thoughts! Click here to comment.

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Comments

  1. I loved this! You are so wise. I could definitely see myself in the same situations in the chorus tryouts and the guidance counselor’s office. I am so glad that you were patient and found your path to happy! Great letter!
    Sara recently posted…UngluedMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Sara. One thing I have learned for sure: There will never be a shortage of wisdom to be gained in my life!

  2. How many of us could have learned from this advice?! Different details, but same insecure story. I’m glad we got a bit wiser with age!
    Auntie Em recently posted…BibliophiliaMy Profile

    • All of us, I think, Melinda! I’ve read multiple letters and there are so many similarities: the self-consciousness, lack of confidence, measuring ourselves against a mistaken measure of beauty, and being so impatient to grow up. I, too, am so grateful to have gotten wiser over the years, even though it was often a painful journey.

  3. Kim…great job…that mother’s instinct is so real and important…so glad you daughter found help with her ADD…wonderful words of encouragement here. blessings~
    ro elliott recently posted…Dear MeMy Profile

  4. This is good. So good! “Love who you are. Believe in yourself.” Such wisdom!
    Jamie recently posted…Dear Me :: A Letter To My Teen SelfMy Profile

    • Welcome to my happy corner, Jamie, and thanks for adding to the conversation. These letters were really interesting to write, weren’t they?

  5. Oh Kim, that is so good!!
    20/20 vision…..gotta love it!
    I agree with Auntie Em….sames lessons, different stories…..
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Lisa. It was real illuminating to write, and an exercise in humility, gratitude, and seeing patterns where I had never seen any before. It is amazing to me how similar teen girls really are when we viewed each other so differently.

  6. What a wonderful gift your perspective has brought to your life, Kim. This shows me – in such a concrete and encouraging way – how God’s plans for us are perfect. And the story is not yet fully written!
    Blessings,
    Ann
    Dr. Ann recently posted…How To Get Calm And Stay Connected During A ConflictMy Profile

    • Dr. Ann-We don’t know his plans, and may very well rail against our current circumstances. As time unveils the bigger picture, though, we can see how everything was for a purpose and how it all fits together. It’s great for keeping us humble, and interested in the next phase of the story!

  7. I like these letters to our younger selves. There’s so much we could teach ourselves, isn’t there? And it helps me not try and make my kids bend to my will too much – I know they have to make their own mistakes like I did.
    Missy recently posted…Privacy, Defined by a 10 Year OldMy Profile

    • There sure is, Missy! I agree-it does give a longer perspective with our kids. It’s painful to watch them go through some things, but the learning tends to stay with them better. Thanks for coming by!

  8. So, so good, Kim. I especially loved that part about how you and your husband wouldn’t have hit it off had you met sooner. You know how happy it makes me hearing that. :)

    Great letter. Thank you–
    Amy Dane recently posted…Dear Me {a letter to my teen-aged self}My Profile

    • I’m glad that made you happy, Amy, and, oh, if you only knew. . . I was the goodie two shoes, and Keith, well, he just wasn’t. He was a Jeep owning, Harley riding, hair down to his shoulders, cigarette smoking, pierced earring in his ear bad boy. I’m just grateful God gave us plenty of time on his old pottery wheel as he shaped and reshaped us before he introduced us to each other. :-) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. I can’t help but wonder if you told anyone what that counselor did.

    This meme baffles me. Tons of people do it. Maybe I haven’t matured. I don’t think I could tell her anything.
    Maggie S. recently posted…SchoolMy Profile

    • I never did tell anyone until years and years later, Maggie. I just believed him. I thought because he was a guidance counselor he just knew best. I did not have enough confidence to go to the principal. I was embarrassed that I had thought I had the potential to be a teacher, and I was wrong. (Well, so I thought at the time.) Thanks for stopping by!

  10. I love this assignment, Kim. It really brings up, I’m sure, insights that you might have not savored, had you not thought back on the wisdom you’ve gleaned over the years. When I was 17, I wrote a letter to my 30 year old self. I opened it years ago when I turned 30, and it was so funny to see my life through the eyes of my teen self. It’s always fun and profitable to do an exercise like this. Thanks so much for sharing … even the vulnerable moments. (Can’t believe your Guidance Counselor! I hope he lost his job–so no other teens would be hurt in the same way!)

    • Wow, I’ll bet is was fun to see what your 17 year old self had to say to your 30 year self. What compelled you to write that?

      Sorry to say my counselor kept his job and retired years later. I never told anyone until years later, and no one from the school. Makes me wonder if he did it to anyone else! Talk about malpractice!

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