6/13/11

The Post About Writing To My 16-Year-Old Self

My travel agent has a really impressive 16-year-old daughter. There's a laundry list of descriptors you could use in assessing her: smart, thoughtful, funny, talented. 

 
Recently, she retweeted a friend's "biggest fear."

My initial thoughts were:
But can I tell you a secret?

Sixteen-year-old Jamie would have tweeted the same thing. Verbatim.

Pair that insight with the discovery of the book Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self and I had inspiration. Dear Me includes notes celebrities wrote to their younger selves which are silly and stirring.


Let me introduce you to my 1992 self.
Hey You.

I know your first reaction is to discard the content of this letter because I'm a 30-something, therefore irrelevant in your four eyes. But try and pay attention. Which I also know is difficult since your ADD hasn't been officially diagnosed yet.

One thing that hasn't changed is your affection for lists, so let's do that shall we? Spoiler alert.
Some Good News:
1. That perm will grow out.
2. You'll buy the most adorable house.
3. There is cheese beyond Kraft singles.
4. You will have more than one dream job.
5. The perfect mascara is coming.

Some Not So Good News:
1. Daddy's white hair will be your white hair.
2. That adorable house will make you want to move to a condo.
3. Your love for cheese will manifest itself in what's called a muffin top.
2. None of your dream jobs will be math professor.
5. You and your eyelashes are only going to get shorter.

In the next several years, you're going to try with all your might to be all these things you're not. In attempts to fit in. In attempts to be unique. 

Know this. I'm serious Jamie Beth. Write this sentence in the margins of every moment of every day. 

You are enough.

The television will argue with you on this point. As will teachers, coworkers, strangers, friends, the back of the Special K box. They will all ask you to be more - more than you were created to be. 

Remember how much you love David, the Old Testament royal screw-up? Let his conversation with God in Psalm 139 be yours.

 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful, I know that full well.


Know it full well. You are enough.
Jamie

P.S. Don't let your biggest fear be not finding the perfect guy. There's all kinds of uglier junk that can happen. Think: gall stones. 

What would you say to your own teen self?

{image: Jamie}

10 comments:

  1. It would be very, very similar. Sixteen year old Kelly was so worried about what made other people happy, and what everyone else wanted her to do, and trying so desperately hard to be perfect, and to fit in, and to have the "popular" kids like her, she lost track of what made her happy and never really thought about what she wanted to do.

    Thirty-something year old Kelly sometimes wonders what it would be like to have that time back that was wasted trying to be an expectation and not just being herself. And yeah, realizing what it is you really want to do when you're 33 has a lot more complication than realizing it at 23. But there is always time. And hope.

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  2. Allison PeatrossJune 13, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    I would tell 16 year old me not to worry, no need to sit at home and wait for that stupid phone to ring...Today you can take the phone with you! So go have fun in between those rare but special calls! We all know the poem "After Awhile" , right?!!?!

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  3. You should copy and paste this into your own blogidoon post :-) There
    really is always hope. It's too bad we don't realize that fully at 16...

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  4. My 16-year-old didn't know email existed, she would be so excited to meet Bugs, the iPhone. Also, I adore that Veronica Shoffstall poem - good stuff...

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  5. I love this post, Jamie.  I would tell my 16-year-old-self that there are much more important things than basketball.  And if he would rather smoke weed than continue to go out with me, an unknowing goody-two-shoes, just let him go smoke.  It will end better. :)

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  6. Thank you Julie! Never plan your life around a pothead. This should be needle pointed on every 16-year-old girl's pillow.

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  7. That is so true. Maybe we could market those somehow...

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  8. Beautiful post! If only we COULD go back and tell ourselves a thing or two... (sigh)

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  9. Gracias Rachel! I'm fairly certain my Jamie wouldn't really listen. And she would jusge my haircut.

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  10. I'll do a list because I'm lazy.

    1. The older you get the more you will look like your father.
    2. Send out more invitations to your graduation.  Go the Bessemer Baptist Association and get lists of all the churches there where the median age is 65.  Send invitations there.  There are only 2 instances in your life where people will be willing to give you money like this.  The other is a wedding.  The difference being you get to spend all of the graduation money on you and the things you think are important as an 18 year old.
    3. Ask more girls on dates.  The worst thing they can do is say no.
    4. Remember this:  Unless it is a felony there is no permanent record.
    5. Always trust that inner voice that says, "Someone called the cops and they are on their way."
    6. Cut the mullet.  Right now.  The only way it would look cool is if you were Hispanic or Asian.  You are Scottish. 
    7. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated.  If you don't you will feel like a turd forever.
    8. Treasure the friends you have right now.  You will never have friends like that again. 
    9. Use conditioner.  After you cut the mullet.
    10. Remember that dude who made your life a living hell when you were 15.  Punch him in the face.  Right now.  But make it count because he is probably going to kick the taste out of your mouth.
    11. Quit smoking.
    12. Do not pine after women who date a guy because they have a cool car.  They are not all that interesting.
    13. After you get the taste back in your mouth punch that dude again.
    14. These are the people you are going to miss 21 years later:  Mrs. Terry, Granny, and Mother.  Make the most of every moment you have with these people.
    15. Pull the fire alarm.
    16. Go out for football.

    I knew the 17 year old Jamie.  She wore big hats.  Hehehehe.

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