Dear Beth

I refer to the last two years I spent in high school as “my glory years.” It is an oddity. Most people seem to remember high school with a mixture of love and hatred. Me? I have nothing but fondness for those years. Junior high through ninth grade… not so much, but my junior and senior years were pretty awesome. Yes, even in hindsight. If I could pick a point in time to go back and start over… that would be it.

When I was tapped by
Mo for yet another virtual game of tag, this one challenging me to write a letter to myself at age sixteen, I couldn’t fathom what I would say to her. I turned 16 the summer prior to my junior year of high school… a year of my life that I loved. After a bit of thought I discovered I did have something to say. It would seem I always do. There was only one major decision to make… a decision that would shape every facet of my letter: Do I assume I can warn her and change my path or do I accept that my life cannot be changed and simply give her guidance? My impulse is to alter my existence. I’ve chosen to go against that desire. A miracle, I know.

Hey Chick-a-dee!

Yeah, I just called you Chick-a-dee. Get used to it. Sometime in the next few years you are going to develop this habit for nicknaming just about everyone you know. I know this because I am you… a really long time from now. Don’t give me that skeptical laugh thing that you do. I could convince you with tales of what we were doing our final weekend in Louisiana a couple of months back. Ha! See? You know what I’m talking about. So… sit down, shut up and read.

Happy Birthday! I know you didn’t expect your 16th birthday to begin this way, but I’m quite sure you will adapt. You’re good at that. Also, Welcome Home! Please take a deep breath of Kenyan air. It’s been a while for me. Don’t take it for granted. Ever.

I’ve decided to not reveal too much about our future to you. Don’t bitch about it. I’m not here to blatantly change events. If I do, however, change your …. our… (whatever) attitude or thought responses and subsequently you make different decisions than I did and change our mutual course then I’ll live with the outcome.

I do have some general advice and I would love it if you listened to me for a change. As this is your sixteenth birthday, I’ll give you sixteen things to think about and that statement leads directly into one of the things you need to know about yourself:

1. Learn to set limits… like me only telling you sixteen things. If you don’t set limits you’ll just keep going on and on and on and spending your energy on non-beneficial stuff.

2. Write more. Start compiling all those scribblings you have scattered around into a more central location. Journal a lot. Trust me. You can thank me later.

3. Speaking of the written word: Keep every note and letter you receive. Every. Single. One.

4. Think twice before consciously setting someone up to be hurt even if you think they are one of the cold, hard, unfeeling ones.

5. You’re beautiful. I realize you have no clue. I remember. That’s why I’m telling you: You are beautiful! That junior high scrawny ugly duckling phase is long gone.

6. Don’t settle when it comes time to choose a college/university. Push for what you want. It’s your future.

7. Boys. They are worth it. Truly. But, don’t settle on one of them either. You’re allowed to be picky.

8. You know that “I refuse to be assimilated into any group and just want to be friends with everyone” vibe you have going on? Good decision. Go with it. Don’t second guess yourself on that one.

9. Study harder.

10. Swahili fluency is highly suggested.

11. Sunscreen. Wear it. You live on the equator and have blonde hair and green eyes. Girl, use your brain.

12. Your humanity dictates that you will make mistakes. Learn from them, but don’t dwell.

13. Never beg. Never grovel. Ever.

14. Get your right knee x-rayed. No, not now. You’ll know when. Swallow your tough girl play through the pain attitude and just do it.

15. Cherish every memory.

16. Love yourself. Always.

Are you listening? I hope so. You should listen to us more often and trust our instincts. I look forward to discovering who we’ve become in about eighteen years.

“You are sixteen going on seventeen, baby it's time to think. Better beware, be canny and careful, baby you're on the brink.” ~The Sound of Music

If you like this idea... consider yourself tagged.
Photo from: We Heart It.


  1. I don't remember 16-year-old Beth, but I'm sure she and I would have gotten along famously! I do, however, remember 9th grade Beth and, holy smokes, you were fast on that track.

    And well done, you, for not attempting to change history. I'm a firm believer in "leave the past alone". Hmmm...what would I say to 16-year-old me?

  2. Certainly if you changed history you might not be here now. And you wouldn't be the amazing woman you are.

    I may do this... don't know yet. You'll know if I do!

  3. I liked reading your list.

    Interesting thought experiment!

    I would tell my 16 year old self to focus more, have more confidence and be more patient with myself and others.

  4. Really loved this letter to your 16 year old self..I'm doing it..
    Plus i love your blog...I'll be back.

  5. Trust you to come up with a list... and thanks for tagging me. I really hate it when I have to go and tag myself.

  6. I'm with you on the sunscreen...would give my 16 year self the same advice! And to worry less about what others are thinking and believe in myself more...everything works out for the best in the end and the journey is better with less stress :-)
    Otherwise, best to leave history to take its course, the mistakes we make and the lessons learnt shape our lives.

  7. This was a really interesting read. You sound like you had a good head on your shoulders as compared to most of us at that age. I have a feeling 16yr old you and 16yr old me would have been good pals.

    (KK) Do the tag already, bro! :)

  8. Dori ~ She was pretty darn fast. Alas! No more. =) Yes, we would have been great friends.

    Finn ~ Amazing?! (((Hugs)))

    Bob ~ I could always do with a bit more patience as well.

    Tricia ~ Welcome! I love your photos. Do come back.

    KK ~ If there was no list you might have doubted that I was actually the author of this piece. Tag! You're it.

    Nat ~ I'm *so* white now. I claim to have done enough damage to my skin in junior high/high school to last a lifetime.

    Mo ~ Indeed! I think we would have found much to talk about.

  9. Once again you've written just what I needed. :)

    Mostly, I think I would have told my 16 year old self that though I was angry for good reasons, I was mistaken in thinking that it would get better after I made myself understood. Don't wait for other people to understand. Ditch the crap and seize the carp, yesterday.

    That, and not settling when it comes to college -- be focused and selfish on getting the good stuff, and generous on sharing it.

  10. I love the idea of writing a letter to my 16 year old self.. this is brilliant.

    I would tell myself to stop comparing myself to my sister and just be myself and know that yes, I was beautiful then.

  11. Rise Above This--Seether

    Then when you're feeling better:
    New Moon Rising--Wolfmother

    I opened an account just to post that.

  12. Nat ~ I just saw this comment. You are your own woman and you are amazing. You have a beautiful family. What is there to compare?

    jh012432 ~ Well, hello stranger! You can post anonymously, you know? But... I'm glad you did. I *love* Seether. Good song. I don't know New Moon Rising. I'll have to check it out. PS - Don't stay a stranger.


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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