Friday, November 05, 2010

A letter to my 16 year old self

If you were on twitter Thursday, you probably saw the hashtag #tweetyour16yearoldself. It was really funny and sometimes really touching to read what people would have said to themselves. This was mine, though truth be told it was a warning to myself since I wouldn't do this little gem until I was the ripe old age of 17:

That's a story for another time. Tonight I am inspired by this post on Sometimes Sweet where Danielle used the tweet meme as the inspiration for a letter to herself at sixteen.

I haven't spent any time putting thought into my blog posts for a while. So here's a letter to 16 year old me. I'm not really sure where I want to go with this ahead of time. For me that's either real bad or it could mean things are about to get interesting. We shall see.

Dear 1995 Heather,

First of all, you need to relax. You can calm down about disappointing people. I know you're terrified of it, but there's nothing you can do that will make any of the adults in your life love you less. They already love you because of who you are. Plus, you make really smart decisions. It's okay to let go of the death grip you have on life. You're not going to accidentally screw up. I know you feel like people don't see you or don't see how hard you're trying to be good and smart, but they do. And if they don't see it, it's their problem, not yours. You will look back on these years and be proud of who you were. Yes, there are things you don't know yet, but you are doing the best you can with what you do know. You're a good person.

I know you feel so often like you're "less than" when it comes to people at school. I wish you could see into the future and see how little all those people matter. You're going to come out with so much more confidence after high school, and you'll get to be social in the way that you long to be now. You'll be thankful for the good friends you have--the real people in your life--and those friendships will last. The superficial stuff you think you want now--the right clothes, popularity, pretty hair, a boyfriend (yes, that's superficial) will all come to you later in life but in a much better form. You might have heard the thing about how people peak too early when they're popular in high school. It's so true. You have enough. You are enough. So many blessings will come to you down the road. Stop feeling inferior, because you just are not.

Don't be in such a hurry to grow up. There's nothing "bad" about being young. It's okay to let yourself have fun or to not be the responsible one in the group if other people are making bad choices. You're going to look back and wish you'd lived a little bit more. Here's the one thing I want you to take away from this letter: PEOPLE ARE NOT BLACK AND WHITE. PEOPLE ARE NOT PERFECT. PEOPLE ARE WONDERFUL IN THEIR GREY IMPERFECTIONS. This includes you. It's okay to fail sometimes because learning how to deal with those failures will teach you who you are. It will teach you what's important. It will teach you sensitivity and understanding when other people fail you. Failure will be a gift in your life, so you should stop trying so hard to avoid it. It's making you kind of a nut.

Things to be thankful for, and maybe cherish a bit: A happy family. Supportive parents. Dance. Friends. Dance friends. Your cat. That trip you're about to take to Mississippi. Awkward and embarrassed hand-holding with E (you will be glad you were shy and nervous). Church. Your cat. A great couple of years in high school. Those history lectures and that help with writing in English class. Your Jaci Velasquez/Jars of Clay cassette tape. Your orange bikini. Sleepovers.  Driving to school with Lis in the Hyundai.

Please don't ever cut your bangs again. It will never turn out the way you want it to.

Your life is good, and you will continue to think so when you're in your thirties. There's a lot of pain ahead, but you will handle it because you'll learn to look at people (including yourself) with greater understanding and acceptance. You will still be working at it when you're 31, because that's what people do. And that's okay. You will be amazed at how many wonderful people will still be in your life at 31. The fact that you've chosen friends and mentors wisely will pay off and you will still know and love so many of the same people even if they move farther away.

Love people the way they are. Make a choice to do so even when you don't feel it, even for yourself.

You're going to be okay.

2010 Heather


  1. I love both Heather's! You have always been one of my best friends!

  2. Heather,
    It's been a LONG while since I've commented on your blog...even though I haven't commented, I've still been reading/following. I love this post! This post is amazing! EVERYONE should do this! Too bad, we can't really send our 16 year old selves information like this!!!
    Wonderful post!

  3. Love this letter - might have to copy you and do this on my own rusty blog! It's such a great way to look back and see what kind of person you have changed into!

  4. This should be required reading for all 16-year-olds ...

    Then again, they'd probably roll their eyes.