Dear Me: a Letter to my Teenage Self

Dear teenage self:

I’ve spent some time thinking about you, and I’m ready to share some pretty important insight. Please read carefully.

Cut your hair short and forget about piercing your ears.

Other than that, your fashion decisions are great: the jeans and t-shirt look will work for you for many years to come!

Listen to your parents and take the ACT again.

Then stop listening to them and just go to the college you like.

Stop dating older boys. Actually, just stop dating.

Or, don’t. It’s probably better to get that stupidity out of your system before you hit your twenties. Really, you will be lucky to date all great guys, each one better than the last (for the most part). And you will get over each and every one of them, I promise. (Except, of course, for the last one.)

Also, I think your life will be a whole lot easier if you start doing these two things sooner: going to therapy and listening to folk music.

And don’t feel shy about telling people about either one.

I’ll admit, this insight isn’t particularly profound or life-changing, and here’s why:

The problem with giving you advice is that every decision you make is part of making you the incredible woman you grow into.

I don’t think I want you to do anything differently, because I want you to become the very person you already are.

When I look back on how it was to be you, I feel a little bit of sadness over how angsty and lonely things were for you, and then I just feel a lot of pride.

I’m proud of the way you learn to articulate yourself and become intuitive about the world around you.

I’m proud of the way you respect your body (even when you don’t) and always run your best race.

I’m proud of the way you love to learn and realize your need to be challenged.

I’m proud of the way you care about your friends in a wide-open-hearted kind of way.

And I’m definitely proud of the way you love Jesus and the church.

I know your faith is like the steady point in the midst of confusion and change, and I know you’re building that faith brick-by-brick, with careful, steady hope. You’re building it through all those conversations in the back of the cross-country van, all those self-taught Bible studies, and all those nights sneaking in to play the sanctuary piano.

And for that, I am more than just proud. I am grateful.

Because of you, I am.

Because of you, I am still one of those crazy runners who runs because they actually like it.

Because of you, I am still one of those crazy Christians who goes to church because they actually like it.

Because of you, I will get two theology degrees and eventually work in ministry. Because of you, I will write a thesis and finish a triathlon and travel to Ecuador and climb mountains. Because of you, I will travel and fall in love and become a wilderness guide and start a blog and build houses.

So, dear teenage self, my message for you is this: you’re doing everything right. You’re right on time.

And you, God’s daughter, lack nothing.

Sincerely, in deepest love and utmost faith,

Bristol, the adult version

– – –

I’m looking forward to reading Emily Freeman’s new book, Graceful! You should hop over to her lovely blog and read other Dear Me letters.



Filed under My Faith Journey

2 responses to “Dear Me: a Letter to my Teenage Self

  1. Amy

    Bristol. Thank you. I’ve been reading the letters all this past week — and they have been good. But they haven’t been my story. This is very similar to what I’d say. Thankfully I had liked myself and been comfortable with who I am — that that “who I was” has enabled me to become “who I am.” I know not everyone can say this. Like you, I am grateful.

    • I am glad to find some kindred souls out there. It actually surprised me a bit when I sat down to wrote my letter that this is what came out. But it felt really genuine to what comes up when I think back on being 16. I think it sounds like you should sit down and write your “Dear Me” letter 🙂

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