dear me: a letter to my teenage self


Dear me at 17,

Oh, goodness. If I could give you anything right now it would be a hug.

I would stand there and just hold you and look you in the eye and promise that it does get better. I can honestly tell you with full confidence, that the years that you’re living right now are the most dramatic and troublesome you’ll face. I’m so sorry that you’re going through all of that right now, but it gets better. So much better.

You’ve only lived in Indiana for four years, and you’re finally starting to feel like you’re not the “new girl” anymore. These years have been challenging, but you handled it. It took a while to find your true group of friends in a town full of people who have known each other their whole lives.

You weren’t the cheerleader or the athlete or the most beautiful. For many years you felt like you didn’t have a place there. But you’re going to perform in your final performance on the YHS stage as Tuptim in The King and I. Musical theater always made you come alive, and for just a few days every year, you were able to share your talents.

I have to tell you something really important, and it takes a few years for you to really figure this out. Your hair works so much better if it’s long. And more good news! There is this amazing contraption that’s called the Chi flat iron. It’s miraculous and you won’t ever have to debate the “curly or straight” thing ever again. This thing really does straighten your hair!

All of your friends are hilarious and so much fun to be around. And your good friend Hillary from youth group is the girl that inspires you to start a blog someday. Yes, it’s this thing called a blog and it’s really weird, and every day you share too much information with people you don’t know. I’ll explain all that later.

Things with mom and dad are going to get better. You’ve all had so many huge arguments over a boy. You love him, but he’s not the one for you. And they know it. And deep down you know it, too.

It’s okay. First loves can be really intense, and mom and dad really do just want to protect you. In about fifteen years you’ll start to have some idea of how they’re feeling right now every time you leave the house and aren’t honest about where you’re going.

Go ahead and take that chip off of your shoulder and let go of your pride. It is incredibly humbling to be grounded, but Mom and Dad know you. You’re not fooling them with this prideful act. You can cry in front of them and let them know how much you’re hurting.

It’s okay. Forgive yourself for all the chaos when you think back on it. Move on. One beautiful thing about Jesus and our parents is that they are incredible gracious and forgiving. Please learn to be that way for yourself.

Despite what all the guidance counselors tell you, these years do not define you. You will be so much more than high school. You are a child of God, and no prom dress, failed exam, aced exam, hair cut, boyfriend, car, or fight with a friend can ever change that.

In just a few months you’ll graduate high school and then head back to Louisiana for college. It will feel safe and comfortable and like home.

You will love college. Those years won’t be without some hurt and disappointment, but you will make the best friends you’ve ever had and they will be the girls that stand next to you on your wedding day.

Speaking of wedding day, let me just tell you about this guy you’re going to marry. At first you think he may just be good on paper. But he is the real deal. He makes you feel truly beautiful for the first time in your life. He helps you find your way back to Jesus. You’re going to have two beautiful boys and life is going to be simple. And beautiful.

And guess what! Mom and Dad leave Indiana for about eight years, but they move back! When you come back to Indiana as a grown woman with your baby boys, it’s a super surreal feeling, and a flood of emotions will come rushing back.

I wish so badly that you could see how great this all turns out. You will be happy. You will grow more and more in love with Jesus. You and Walker totally love being around each other as adults. He’s so funny and he is the best Uncle to your little boys. You will marry the greatest man you’ve ever met and your family and his family get along wonderfully. The family that you all build and the children that you raise will be the joy of your life.

Be kind to yourself these next few years. Let go of the body image stuff. Have some fun. Love yourself.

So I guess I had more to say to you than just giving you a big hug and crying into your hair. But you probably could use a hug.

Hang in there, sweet girl.




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  1. Ashley Cueto says

    Wow! Sounds like the same letter I would’ve written to my teenage self. I have commented here before, but I am always amazed at your wisdom. You are 10 years my junior (I recently turned 40! Ahhh!) but you are much more wise than I was at 30. If only I knew then what I know now….what a difference it would have made! ESP in the mommy arena. You have great perspective, which is something I haven’t gained until recently. Props to you. Btw…I think you are a very gifted writer, too. Have a wonderful weekend w/that precious family! 🙂

    • Lara Lin says

      Erin,I totally agree with Ashley. I just attended my 20 year class reunion this weekend! It was really great to go back with new perspective. I thought about your post several times! It really is a blessing that you have so much insght so young, I am glad that at 38 I am finally “getting it” too!

  2. says

    This made me cry! I was SO mean to myself at 17, and the world wasn’t much more kind. I wish someone- ANYONE- would have told me that things get better…and they are. So. Much. Better. But not perfect, because if there wasn’t some darkness we’d never be able to see the light.

  3. Megan says

    Oh, this is just so touching! I think you should write one now to your 40 year old self…that would be so much fun to read in 10 years!! The good thing about aging is getting comfortable with yourself and relaxing. This is just so sweet and touching.

  4. says

    Erin, thank you for this post. As a high school senior I’m eating up every word of the letters bloggers are writing trying to store away as much wisdom as I can. I’m beyond thankful for all of you women being bold enough to share these experiences with all of us. Your letter touched me in a powerful, powerful way. Thank you for being vulnerable and constantly sharing a bit too much about yourself on the interwebs, I’m so grateful for it. Keep posting and know that there are readers, like seventeen-year-old me, that love reading how you’re getting closer to Jesus and reading posts like these showing me that Jesus always wins. Always.

    Thank you!!

  5. Susan says

    Wonderful post! I saw so much of myself in the post. Agreed that college is the time when we find who we really are. Reading your post made me think about all of the things that I would say to myself. It’s funny how mom and dad always know best, even know. But I’m not admitting that to them 🙂 Even though we didn’t really know each other well, I always thought you were such a beautiful girl with a warm and kind heart. Thanks for the post Erin!

  6. says

    oh, I love this so much, Erin. Seriously. I think I want to do this on my blog too. Hope you don’t mind. I read this through tears. I think we would have gotten along fabulously in high school and probably now too 🙂

  7. Jessica says

    Erin, oh my goodness! How beautiful is this??? Love it! Every word! A letter to myself would look almost exactly like this one. I wish that this could be published in a magazine for teenage girls. Thank you for sharing this.

  8. says

    i love this part.. “despite what all the guidance counselors tell you, these years do not define you.” thank goodness! it really would have been nice to know that then!!!


  1. […] dear me: a letter to your teenage self (and link up) from Chatting at the Sky (Emily’s letter was beautiful, but so were the hundreds that linked up with her. You can read mine here) […]

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