5 Things to Tell my Teenage Self

Oh, braces. Also note, I definitely didn’t drink in high school and even attended the baseball game at which this picture was taken with my church youth group. Somehow, I found a way to make this picture even worse.

I recently read a blog post about personality types that ended by asking its readers to write to their fifteen-year-old selves. A semi-anonymous opportunity to address myself at this age was just too good to pass up.

Little Me,

If I could actually give you advice, you probably wouldn’t listen. You have always been (and *spoiler alert* you still are) poised calmly in the starting block, flipped 180 degrees, ready to dash quietly into the lands of “doing the opposite” and “no expectations.” However, if you happen to be open to listening today, I promise it won’t be that bad.

1. Keep loving everything with your whole heart.

Yes. Keep loving everything with your whole heart. Keep diving in head first. Keep being intensely passionate. It’s tiring, but it’s what makes you happy — and lucky you! It often makes others happy, too. It’s the only way you know how to do things, and that’s ok. Eventually, though, you’re going to probably want to sharply change focus from that thing you were just diving into, and that is also ok! … however …

2. Please be patient with those around you.

Some people don’t see change as a positive thing — as a dire need — like you do. Please try not to feel as though you need to disappear from someone’s life because you feel so guilty about making a change that they weren’t comfortable with at first. People are simply not that mad at you for doing what you want / need / feel compelled to do. Just wait for people. Seriously. They will be sad — and hurt — if you just leave.

Side note: saying goodbye will always be terribly hard and letting someone down will probably continue to be the hardest thing you’ll do. Remember, 15 year-old me, I’m writing this much later, and I still dread having to mature up and end things properly. Don’t let your fear of ending something stop you from starting it. You / I / we still do this, and it’s super annoying. Burning bridges is terrible for people on both shores. Say goodbye.

3. Although it may initially seem contradictory, please don’t let that fear of saying goodbye let you become too afraid to let go, either.

It is ok to care and to love and to really let people in (ugh we’re still working on this at 25), but that doesn’t sign you into a life-long contract of foreverness. You hate being complacent. It is not who you are. Hanging on (long term) for someone else will only make you resent them or yourself. Don’t be afraid to let go and change — just do it the right way. And trust yourself (and more so God).

4. Lastly, it is ok that you feel like you don’t know who you are.

You probably will not be socially defined by hard skills — like how great you are at sports or the type of music that you like — as so many people you envy are. You are socially defined by your person. (That’s why you need to stop running away or hiding from people!) Peers and non-peers will ask you for advice. You will rarely pick the music in the car, but your friends will appreciate that you’re always open to listen to their music. You will be the smiley one, even when you’re sad. (Find someone though that you can be sad with. They’ll normally be found in the music department.) You will lift people up and make them feel powerful. Let that make you feel powerful. You will connect. You will sometimes feel like you don’t know who you are because you don’t think you have “a thing.” But you do: your thing is YOU. Please stop limiting yourself to things that you know you won’t fail at. Go share your thoughts with those around you. The moment you stop comparing yourself and stop telling yourself to quit before you’ve even begun is when you will maybe start being able to love yourself. Being able to love yourself is going to get real important.

Oh and—Your love for listening to people will always be one of your best skills, but remember that an open ear and an open mind are not mutually exclusive.

5. And I can’t wait for you to get your braces off!

Oh and PS, I love you!! You’ll get so much cuter so soon! Don’t stress!

❤ xoxo Love, Older (way better dressed) You

Let’s be honest. A lot of these points were kind of directed at present-aged me. Cheers to each and every one of us as we encourage each other and ourselves to be the kind of person we want to be.

To all you 15 year olds: you are FANTASTIC. High school is horrible sometimes. I’m sorry about that. I love you.