Wednesday, March 13, 2013

To My 16 Year Old Self

I read part of a book recently called What I Know Now: Letters to my Younger Self. This amazing work is a collection of letters penned by famous females to their younger selves. It's filled with strength, humor, and even a touch of sadness, and it got me thinking. It got me thinking about my younger self, and what I would tell that girl if I could talk to her now. If I could reach back through the years and offer some words; some courage, some strength, and some insight about what the future holds.

It’s a worthwhile exercise, really. Because to become our very best selves, I think we have to understand who we were and where we came from. So we can keep moving forward.

So back in time I went. And I reached out to that girl. My 16 year old self. Scared, insecure, uncertain. And I held her tight. And I talked to her. And this is what I said.

Dear Sam,

You don’t have to get up from that bench. The bench where you sit, reading your book, waiting for the bell to ring. You feel like you need to. To socialize, to talk. But the thought of approaching that group of girls by the lockers fills you with a paralyzing fear. You would much rather read your book. It makes you happy. Makes you calm. I understand. It’s ok. You can stay right where you are.

You already know you are not like most of the people around you. You are thoughtful, and introspective rather than loud. You quietly understand things it might take others a lifetime to internalize. You will learn later - much later -  that you are what they call an “introvert.” You don’t like crowds, or big groups. In high school, this is a terrifying fate. It makes you feel different. So painfully different. But it’s ok. Because being an introvert is glorious. You will learn to treasure your own company. To relish the quiet moments where you can regroup and recharge. There is immense creativity in the quiet. And soon, you will learn exactly how to harness it. And you will thrive.

And don't worry about those girls. The popular ones. The ones with whom you don't have much in common. It's ok to not want them as friends. Because you will have amazing friends. Friends who understand you, and help you find your way. You will all lean on each other in good times and bad. You will be together through college and law school. First apartments. Weddings. First jobs. Births. Deaths. You will be silly and serious. They are soul deep friendships. They are your forever friends. As close as family. And just as important.

You will have a family that grows closer each and every day. Your parents are just parents right now, but they will become your twin pillars without whom you could not stand. Your sisters are just sisters right now, but they will become your greatest friends and fiercest allies. In them you will find the missing parts of yourself. You will complete each other in a way that only sisters can. And they will bring two men into your life. Men they love, and who you will love too. Brothers. And your family of five will start to grow. And one day, your youngest sister will introduce you to your great love.

Yes, you will have a great love. A huge, complex, and extraordinary love. In him you will find your mate.  In many ways he will be your opposite. Outgoing where you are quiet. Quick-thinking where you are methodical. But don’t let that scare you. Because you will compliment each other beautifully. Completely. He will be your most treasured companion. You will challenge each other. You will laugh. You will plan. You will hope. You will dream.

And with him you will learn something else. That you are born to nurture. You are fighting it now because it’s not cool. It’s not popular. You think it makes you timid, maybe even a little weak. It doesn't. Embrace it. Treasure it. It is one of your truest gifts. To understand how to care for others. To know instinctively, and in your deepest heart, what the people in your life need and how to offer it is an exquisite miracle. And it’s yours.

Just about a year from now you will read your very first romance novel. The first of many. These books will open up a part of yourself that you didn't even know existed. You will relate to the books. You will learn from them. And in a few years, you will start to write about them. 

And once you start to write, you won't be able to stop. You will write about books and love and friendship and life. You will hunger for the keyboard. To put words to page. Writing will open up new worlds for you. It will satisfy and fulfill you in ways you never experienced or thought possible. To give your words to the world, and for people to read them. And one day, you will write a book of your own. It's not completed yet. As a matter of fact, it's barely started. But you will know in your deepest soul that you will finish it. And it will be your life's greatest accomplishment. Because this is what you are meant to do.

I won't tell you not to worry, because I know you will. Instead, I will tell you to be confident. And to be happy. Because this is life, my girl. Messy. Complex. Satisfying. Beautiful. Your life. My life. Our life.

Just be yourself.



  1. A lovely, lovely letter. I wonder what my older self would write to my current self? Or what my teenage self might have written to the 35-year-old me? Hmmmm...

  2. This is so good. LOve glorious introverts like my husband. I was loud and also awkward, which was a fun combo.

  3. Loved you in high school and love you now, no matter how long between visits. :)