An Open Letter to the Sixteen Year-old Me


Dear Emily,

Hello it’s me – er you… well 25-year old you – um hmm yeah that’s awkward, but anyway, I’m you only older and much more awesome (well, not really, but it’s nice to think so isn’t it?).

So yeah, I’ve got some things to tell you. Some of them you won’t like and most of them will make you question my sanity, but please believe me. It’s important.

  1. I know you’re dead seat against going to the local State University, but get over it. They will offer you the most money just to attend, and you will meet some AMAZING girls there – girls who will become life-long friends. Don’t snub your nose because you think you are smarter than that university (though, at times, you are….) you will be exposed to things that will leave lasting impressions on your academic career. You will have some good professors and some not-so-good professors, but the connections you come out with will be a life-line later.
  2. You are beautiful. That size 8 you dream of fitting into, it’s just a number. You are perfect and beautiful right now at a size 12 – in fact, there will be days in the future that you long for that size 12 again. Please believe me – you are pretty, you are attractive. You’re not single because you are fat – you are single because there is so much more to life than pursuing a boy. Also, going to Winter Ball only matters in high school. Really, it’s not important and once you graduate no one cares. PS: graduation gowns make everyone feel like they’re wearing a tent…promise.Junior Prom
  3. Speaking of boys – that one that you’re waiting on – the one that you keep deep in your heart hoping one day he’ll love you – you know the one. You two are going to have some awesome times together. You’ll travel and experience things that will make your friendship one of the most valuable things you have…. and then, one day he will break your heart so bad that you will question your very identity – and his. So, put him in your “just friends” file and LEAVE HIM THERE. Value his friendship – he’s going through more than you can guess, Value the experiences you have together – they will shape many of your beliefs – but do NOT, under any circumstance, fall in love with him, please, do not fall in love with him.
  4. Mom is going to leave, quietly at first, and under a huge veil of denial, but there will come a day that the fighting will be over and she will move out. Let her go – it will hurt, but it will hurt Dad more. You will feel betrayed and angry, but realize, there is peace in it. You and Dad will have an awesome relationship and you will be closer to Mom once you are both not under the same roof. This is not your battle. This is not yours to fix. Let it go.
  5. I know you think that following the rules and being a good girl is your whole identity – but it’s not. And the rules and ‘good girl life’ that you cling too, it’s holding you back from so much. I’m not saying you should go crazy and party every weekend, but it’s ok to step out of your comfort zone and make friends. Also, you need to know that being “good” does NOT give you the right to judge others who are deemed less than good by you. You do not get to stand on a pedestal and point out everyone else’s flaws, we both know that the pedestal you are standing on is deeply cracked under all that gold plating. Besides, there are enough gymnastic judges in the world. Everyone is fighting their own battle – including you, and if you let that go – if you accept people as they are and not as they should be, the whole making friends thing will get easier.As Jackie O. for Junior Term Paper
  6. While we’re talking about making friends – I know it’s hard. I get it, really, I do. Let’s admit it though, we are socially awkward. and that’s ok, too. I hate to say this, but you’re never going to suddenly get graceful. Learn to life with the clumsiness, don’t let it embarrass you. But a big part of the  social awkwardness and deep embarrassment in public situations is because we are introverts. We value a few close friends over many acquaintances. We are not outgoing. We like our solitude (being an only child adds to that, too). We need quiet time – people are exhausting – and they always will be, you’ve just got to find the ones worth spending your energy on.
  7. Pretty soon you’re going to start leading the Awana program at church. Jump in with both feet! It will be the best decision – and even when it gets tough and it will get VERY tough, keep up the fight! Spiritually, the kids will do so much more for you than you will ever do for them. Don’t take any minute for granted – and do your best to handle every grating situation with grace (it will take practice).
  8. When Amber asks if you want to go to Europe – don’t hesitate. Go! You won’t really enjoy it while you are there, but once you are home, you will long to go back. Travel is good for the soul – and seeing more than just your small town will make you more relatable and help that socially awkward problem we talked about.
  9. Jessica, the other teacher’s-kid, you know, the girl that’s 4 years younger than you and in middle school right now, she is awesome. She will help you heal from that broken heart and life in general – you will help her heal, too. Keep her close.
  10. There will always be stupid people. Learn to deal with them – at least learn the fine art of sarcasm – get good enough and people think you’re really funny and not just mean, also, try to pay attention in your government classes. One day you’ll find yourself in a job that is much more political that you thought it would be, and you will feel so uninformed.

I think that’s most of the high points. Mostly though, you just need to know that high-school (and middle school for that matter) is just a blip in your life. It is by no means the best part, things will get better. You will get a job that allows you to sponsor three beautiful children from South America. You will find a purpose. I can’t say that you will find love in the way that you hope, but, you will be happy. Enjoy the happy 🙂

Best of luck Buttercup!

Emily (aka YOU)



When I saw the challenge from Emily to write a letter to our teenage selves in honor of the release of her new book, Graceful, I knew I had to participate, and I thought about what to write for quite a while – with no real idea. Fortunately, I had a 5 hour layover on a recent flight and nothing else to do – I fully intended to just rough out a draft and ended up writing out the entire thing. Sometimes you think you have nothing to say until you just write… and then the mess comes out – I’m sure people at the airport thought I was crazy as I relived the emotions and tried to convince my past self to take my advice. Anyway, if you’d like to share a letter to your teenage self, you totally should – and then you should head over to Emily’s space, Chatting at the Sky, where you can link up your letter and read all of the great advice from some amazing women{and men} who’ve shared their own letters. Oh and check out the amazing trailer for Graceful right HERE!

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