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Letter to 16 Year Old Me

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Little Miss Momma: Letter to 16 Year Old Me

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Letter to 16 Year Old Me

Dear 16 Year Old Ashley,

What can I tell you that you don't think you already know?
Because you're certain you already know everything--don't you.

You give yourself a lot of credit,
assuming you are "so mature for your age",
and in many ways you are.

But oh, there is so much you have to learn.
About life.
About relationships.
About patience.
About boys.
About loyalty.
About responsibility.
About faith.
And there is so much I wish I could tell you,
to give you some perspective on what is about to happen in your life,
to help prepare you.

I remember you at this age all too well.
You live your life through the songs you hear on the radio,
playing them on repeat until every lyric of every verse
is running through your veins.
John Mayer's No Such Thing,
Dixie Chicks Wide Open Spaces,
Green Day's Time of Your Life.

You're a hopeless romantic,
but you don't hesitate to break someones heart.
And I wish I could go back in time and change that about you,
help teach you about the delicate nature of the human heart.
But you won't understand that until
your own heart gets broken.
And boy does it ever.
But don't worry,
because you'll end up marrying that boy.

In so many ways you are a "typical" teenage girl,
a glimpse of those portrayed on your favorite prime time shows.
Dawson's Creek, The OC, 90210.
Homecoming Queen, Friday night movies, football player boyfriend.
For you, high school is the time of your life--something to be cherished,
to be looked back on with fond memories.

But there is also something about you that is different,
some part of you that doesn't fit with what people see on the outside.
A part of you that can see high school isn't a dream for everyone.
And even at a naive 16 years of age,
your heart aches for those just trying to make it through each day.
You reach out to them,
smile at them in the hallway,
slow dance with them at dances,
vote for them in student council
and defend them against the bullies.
You try hard, Ashley--and for that I am proud.
Those struggling need an advocate,
be that for them.

Don't curse. It's not cool, and makes you look ugly.
Wear longer skirts.
Pay attention in Spanish.
Say thank you to your teachers daily.
Call your grandma more.
Try out for track.
Don't be afraid to dance.
Stop worrying...

You worry too much,
especially about the future.
I wish I could tell you that this would change as you get older,
but it doesn't.
So, just try your best to enjoy the moment,
instead of focusing on the future.
Because in your future, you'll spend a lot of time looking back
and remembering.

When you're older, you'll still remember the pit in your stomach
the day you watched the Twin Towers collapse during your Junior year.
On that day you realized just how small your little world was
and the bubble you had been living inside of burst.

When you're older, you'll still remember the feeling
and the sound of those gut wrenching sobs
as you walked off the soccer field for the very last time.

When you're older, you'll still remember the day that you got the call that changed your life. The day you learned that your best friend was gone forever.
The day your quest for faith began.

You'll remember the late night talks,
and slumber parties,
and school pride rallies
and the boy who taught you what it meant to love.

Sometimes I wonder how different things would have been for you,
if you had known then what you know now.

Like if only you had known that you are a precious daughter of God.
If only you had known that your family would find peace.
If only you had known that your future best friend for life would end up being the girl who sat three rows behind you in English class.
If only you had known that you would find the most happiness in the simple things like baby giggles, summer BBQ's and cuddling on the couch.
If only you had known that you would meet the man of your dreams
when you least expected it,
and he would be nothing like you had always imagined him to be.
(btw: He's more than you ever hoped for, I promise).

I wish I could tell you to be a better example,
to do certain things differently,
to change some parts of who you were.
But that would be asking you to re-write your history.
A history that has resulted in the life you have today,
the life that makes you happy.
And all I want is for you to be happy.

So I guess the best advice I can give you is:
be YOU,
the best version of YOU
and stay true to YOU
even in the face of criticism,
because not everyone will support you,
and that's just fine.

With love,

27 year old Ashley

p.s. Just wait until you see your son's dimples and hear his laugh.

High school graduation.

Not sure why we weren't wearing shoes for this picture...

What advice would you give the 16 year old YOU?

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At May 1, 2011 at 7:58 PM , Blogger twinkietotmom said...

Love this post. I think you and I had a very similar high school experience and I too look back at it very fondly now. I want for my own children to have the experiences & more than that of what I had in high school. I want them to know these things that we know now about it all. Did you graduate class of 02 or 03? My hubs is 02 and I'm we are the same age...must be why this hit home!

At May 1, 2011 at 8:00 PM , Blogger Savannah said...

LOVE THIS POST!!! Its got me thinking about what I would say to myself...
I think I will have to post one to my 16 year old self too on my blog!
Thanks for your blog by the way,your an inspiration to me!!!

At May 1, 2011 at 8:02 PM , Blogger Audrey Crisp said...

Such a great post! I wish I could go back and tell myself not to worry what other people thought so much... oh and to go to college longer and actually finish. I wish I would have learned how to cook before I got married. There's a million regrets, but overall I guess I did okay. Haha! You were such a cutie!

At May 1, 2011 at 8:02 PM , Blogger Jen said...

Love this. :)

At May 1, 2011 at 8:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh you're so cute as a 16 year old :)

At May 1, 2011 at 8:07 PM , Blogger kate said...

the timing of this post is amazing. TURN ON THE NEWS!

At May 1, 2011 at 8:08 PM , Blogger Cherry Blossoms said...

Love this. So inspiring.
I would tell myself that true confidence comes from the inside and to not have been embarrassed because I had an angel mommy.

At May 1, 2011 at 8:09 PM , Blogger McKenzie @ Girl Loves Glam said...

This post was so perfect. I am going to do this and link it back to you. This is just what I needed to hear today.

At May 1, 2011 at 8:09 PM , Blogger Erica @ Acire Adventures said...

Adorable! I would tell me to stop dating the messed up guys and see what is right in front of me... the non-crazy guy that I'll be spending the rest of my life with! :)

And also to stop worrying so much about being unique. We're all our own people naturally and teens spend way too much time trying to be something else.

At May 1, 2011 at 8:13 PM , Blogger Amanda said...

Brought a smile and a few tears! Tugged at my heart strings!

At May 1, 2011 at 8:14 PM , Blogger april marie said...

I love this! I need to do one! By the way, we graduated the same year- 2003 right??

At May 1, 2011 at 8:18 PM , Blogger Marianne said...

I would tell myself that I am worth loving and that people really do like me for who I am. I will reach my dreams and goals, I just have to work hard, I just won't reach them within my timeframe, but I will reach them nontheless.

At May 1, 2011 at 8:23 PM , Blogger Randomlicious Memoirs said...

Great post, there are a lot of things I would tell my 16 year old self....mostly not to care what others thought..and to not be afraid to be me.

At May 1, 2011 at 8:25 PM , Blogger Nina @ Momma Go Round said...

You always know just how to make me cry. I never would have believed that my "sister" was right there too. I love you so much and can't believe it has been so long already. I swear it feels like those pictures were yesterday, but so glad we are where we are today. I love you forever.

At May 1, 2011 at 8:25 PM , Blogger Lisa Merkley said...

You're such a beautiful person! I wish I could meet you in person because I'm pretty sure I'd love you! I loved this post.

At May 1, 2011 at 8:30 PM , Blogger Lindsay said...

Ashley, I have tears, OMG! I can hear your voice in this and its so heartfelt. I know you have the BIGGEST heart and thats what I love about you! You are so lucky for all the blessings you have in your life!

At May 1, 2011 at 8:39 PM , Blogger Jess said...

This is a really fabulous post! Such great writing and beautiful thought!

At May 1, 2011 at 8:44 PM , Blogger McKenzie @ Girl Loves Glam said...

Here is the link to mine. This was such a great learning moment.

At May 1, 2011 at 9:00 PM , Blogger The Vintage Modern Bride said...

ah this post made me cry. i love it!

At May 1, 2011 at 9:07 PM , Blogger Alexandra Bee Blog said...

Oh my gosh..this post just made me cry and I'm laughing at myself as I can't stop crying! Very well-written!

At May 1, 2011 at 9:11 PM , Blogger Kristina said...

What a lovely thing to share! High school wasn't all good, or all bad for me. I went to three different high schools for the first three years, and that was hard because I've never been great with change. But once I got over the "devastation" of each new environment, I loved and I learned. I wish I could tell 16 year-old self not to fret so much over my parents' divorce, and that "you will find LOVE, so don't worry so much about not dating in high school."

At May 1, 2011 at 9:17 PM , Blogger Randi Lynn said...

I did this a while back!
Even though being sixteen was only a few years ago, it's crazy how much has changed for me since then!

At May 1, 2011 at 9:18 PM , Blogger Ashley C. said...

Makes me want to get my yearbook out. Thanks for this post - I think we for sure would be friends in real life (is that weird that I think that?). Sometimes I feel like you are writing things straight from my brain. Do you have ESP? :)

At May 1, 2011 at 9:25 PM , Blogger Tara said...

This is truly beautiful and heartfelt. I appreciate your willingness to be so open and honest with people. Thank you for your perspective about the life that you have lived so far. I'm also 27 and I feel that it's important to realize that the things you have experienced, the good and the bad, have made you who you are. Thanks again:

At May 1, 2011 at 9:46 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I love this! I love the song by Brad Paisley! I'm going to have to write my 16 year old self a letter. :) Sorry about your best friend, I'm sure that was hard.

At May 1, 2011 at 9:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this! I love the way you express yourself... LOVE IT!

I would tell my 16yr old self to not give in that one night. Because I would regret it for the rest of my life. My life would have been different had I chosen to live the life I was taught to live. But That I would also tell myself that life gets better and at this point totally awesome. And to appreciate my Father in Heaven for giving me the opportunity to repent and make things right. That, along with some other stuff :)

At May 1, 2011 at 10:17 PM , Blogger Poyer the Lawyer said...

16 year old Ash was one of my best friends. I was so proud to be her friend then, and am still so proud to be her friend now.

I love the pics of you and Liz, I have some of the three of us that are so special to me.

I still remember warming up with you before one game, passing back and forth and asking you, "Do you think we'll be friends in 10 years?" I remember your immediate and assured response, "Of course Amy, are you kidding me?"

Your 16 year old self did pretty damn good, Ash. And it seems like you're keeping it up. And I love that you and Nina found each other's friendship at such a beautiful time in both your lives. Love you #15!!

At May 1, 2011 at 10:24 PM , Blogger Shannon Olson said...

I must say I don't always read everything in a post, but I did on this one! I love that you wrote this letter to the younger you, it was werid reading it because I would have said a lot of the same things to the younger me. The funny thing about this is even if I read a letter from my older self when I was 16 I doubt it would have changed anything, because of course at 16 we know everything! hahahha

At May 1, 2011 at 10:54 PM , Blogger Jayna Rae said...

Very cute post! sounds like you had a ton of fun in high school. I am not too sure what I would tell 16 year old me. Mostly I would tell her to pay a tiny bit more attention in history, so I could've past that AP test instead of thinking about the hubby.

On a totally different note, I noticed the Tom's ad in your side bar. Does that mean you got your Facebook wish of them sponsoring you. I am SOOOO excited about it.

At May 1, 2011 at 11:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would tell me that friends matter, but you should always listen to your own voice first. Oh and one day you will meet a great guy who has you will be friends with. Don't hesitate!

At May 1, 2011 at 11:29 PM , Blogger Whit said...

Oh man I so need to write a letter to my 16 year old self I feel like it would be therapeutic :) Thanks for your inspiration.

At May 2, 2011 at 12:47 AM , Blogger ahappygirl said...

Ooooo, can we have a link up party for these letters? That would be wonderful. :)

P.S. - You made me cry. ;)

At May 2, 2011 at 1:23 AM , Blogger Rissy said...

I love this, and I feel like my 16 yr old self was similar to yours...
especially the listening to John Mayer part ; )

I think I listened to that little part of me that said "stand up for those kids that don't quite fit in" but not as strongly or as often as I should have.

i would tell my 16 year old self to be the "me" I really wanted to be and not the one everyone else wanted.

adorable pics!


At May 2, 2011 at 2:12 AM , Blogger Nichelle @ Vintage Wanna Bee said...

This is such a good post. Thank you. I don't understand how you can be so amazing and inspiring! I hope you don't mind that I made a letter to little me too!

Wow girl, you are just too rad.

At May 2, 2011 at 3:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

this story is such cute!!!i totally love it!

At May 2, 2011 at 5:19 AM , Blogger Crazy Wonderful said...

Truly gorgeous post. I wish I knew then what I know now, but like you said, I'm so happy the paths I took lead me to my life today :D

At May 2, 2011 at 5:45 AM , Blogger Julie M. said...

Cute! And how tall are you?

At May 2, 2011 at 8:08 AM , Blogger Dragonfly Stitches said... are such an inspiration! I look forward to your blog daily and I can honestly say that you have made a huge difference in my life. You have given me hope, strength, courage and the ability to believe in myself! Loved the archive post about the single mom & the woman saying how can I dislike someone who gave me the greatest gift..what an eye opener as I am a single mom of a beautiful 2 year old...sharing custody with the father, but this story allowed me to let go of some of the anger I feel towards him. I am learning that his hurtful words are his own insecurities, not mine :) would love your feedback on my blog if you ahve time Thank you for being you!!! You are amazing in so many ways!!

At May 2, 2011 at 8:30 AM , Anonymous Heather said...

I love this post, especially because I knew you at 16. I thought you were SO COOL and SO BEAUTIFUL and I appreciated it SO MUCH when you made time to talk with me before and after class. You were "cool" and you wanted to hear about my day anyways. I can't even begin to tell you how much that meant to me. Thank you.

P.S.: My quest for faith took a huge turn when I lost one of my best friend too, many years later.

At May 2, 2011 at 8:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy cow girl! I am in tears because I would have said so many of those things to my teenage self. This is a great idea to reflect on. I think I will take up this challenge!
BTW, you made my Saturday start with smiles after reading your sweet comments on my outfits. =)

Hope you had a super weekend!

At May 2, 2011 at 8:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had to read this one, and now having read it, I have to leave a quick comment (a rare male appearance, btw). Truly a beautiful post. Such great memories of those HS days, and so many lessons learned. For the record, I'm sure the 'broken hearts' forgive you, are very happy for you and your family, and proud of the friendship you shared :)

At May 2, 2011 at 8:59 AM , Anonymous grace @ahead said...

touchy letter! i'll probably do this too, when i get a little bit older than 27. the younger years were sort of good times, though, right? :) thanks for sharing!
I hope you can also check out our site at thanks!

At May 2, 2011 at 9:07 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

What a great idea! I would give myself too much advise! So for now, I'm gunna go along with yours! :)
BTW, I don't think I ever thanked you for the AWESOME 'stach necklace! I love it, and get comments and compliments on it EVERY TIME I wear it! XoXo

At May 2, 2011 at 9:11 AM , Blogger Carmen said...

I just want to thank you for this beautiful post!

At May 2, 2011 at 9:38 AM , Blogger Cheeky D said...

Cute post...especially with Mother's day coming. The Mommy in me has so much to say to myself as a child. A lot of what you said I was like yeah, where were you when I was sixteen. We wouldn't have listened though...oh well! What we did then has shaped us into what we are now. Happy Mother's Day!

At May 2, 2011 at 12:34 PM , Blogger Aubrey said...

This was beautiful made me all teary. Yep, if only we could have gotten that letter ;)

At May 2, 2011 at 2:03 PM , Blogger Leah said...

What a sweet, heartfelt post! Isn't it crazy how much we learn through experience? I thought HS was so awesome while I was in it. Little did I know that life just gets better and better!!

At May 2, 2011 at 5:29 PM , Blogger My Life By Hand said...

I loved this post and also wrote a letter to my 16 year old self. Love love love your blog and your amazing ability to inspire others! Your awesome!

At May 2, 2011 at 7:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have told myself at 16 to pay attention to that shy and quiet boy a few rows ahead of me in chapel. Because I'd marry him 8 years after HS graduation and he'd give me the two most precious gifts I'd ever receive.

I'd also tell myself that big bangs are NOT cool and won't EVER be cool; real friends are the ones that stick around and you can talk to once a year but it'll feel like you picked up where you left off; and that there is nothing wrong with not being the most popular but it is important to be kind.

At May 2, 2011 at 7:51 PM , Blogger Heather M said...

OOOH I LOVE THIS!!! This brought back so many memories!! I would tell my 16 year old self to let go of friendships that are toxic, that its ok to be yourself and how to be a little more independent!!! I loved this post!!

At May 3, 2011 at 5:25 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Ohhhhhh, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! Now, I'm going to have to dig up some old pictures of my 16 year old self. :)

I would tell that naive girl who never had a care in the world that the future trials she will face are all worth it. They will make her a better person. A stronger and more courageous person. They will shape her character and more importantly, her Faith. I would also tell her that her she will NOT be old when she turns 30. She'll be better and wiser and have everything she wants!

What a fun exercise!!! :)

At May 3, 2011 at 5:50 AM , Blogger kvstl said...

Absolutely amazing Ashley. You ever think of writing a book of mommy hood and life lessons? You truly are an inspiration to anyone, even a new mommy like me! Thanks for inspiring me to live and lead a better life. Now that Oprah is ending, I might have to come to your blog for inspiration! :)

At May 3, 2011 at 12:56 PM , Blogger CAW said...

It doesnt feel like it was just 17 years ago that I was 16- I would tell myself to live according to the word and not the world
do not me conformed but be transformed I would remind myself that my body is a temple of God's- to remain pure
i know all too well about living through the words of lyrics so loved that you said that!!
GREAT post!!

At May 3, 2011 at 7:09 PM , Blogger Kari said...

Ashley - I just began reading your blog, and have been thinking about starting up a blog as I am a mom to a 19 month old and like you have so much to say! I have been tossing around the idea for awhile (because working full time, and being a mom seems to make me crazy) but your blog has inspired me to finally start my own! Thank you so much for your inspiration! =)


At May 3, 2011 at 7:14 PM , Blogger M.O.T.B said...

This is a great post, I love your quote "be the best version of you". That is an incredibly simple way to say so much! Because you are right, when you have a spark that attracts others, you have such an opportunity to make a difference for the better. When I was 16 I made decisions that cost me years of happiness with the man I eventually married. I can't have those years back but I can appreciate the years I have and of course hope and pray I can save my own children some heartbreak...of course I am certain they will think they know it all too:)

At May 5, 2011 at 12:04 PM , Blogger pakosta said...

wow, that was so beautiful!
and well thought out!!!
Gosh, there are so many things, I might actually have to sit down and make a list myself!

At May 5, 2011 at 12:55 PM , Blogger Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke said...

WOW, that was powerful! Loved it so much. Now I want to hear about your friend who passed away.

And funny...the only boy who truly broke my heart...I married. It took a break up for me to realize we were meant to be together.

At May 12, 2011 at 9:16 AM , Blogger Amanda M. said...

It took me a while to work up the courage, but I wrote a letter to myself as well.

Thanks for the push....

At July 20, 2011 at 6:45 PM , Blogger Cassie @ Live.Laugh.L0ve. said...

This brought little glimmers of tears to my eyes. It took me back to when I was sixteen. You sound like you were an amazing teenager, the kind of girl I would have been friends with in highschool. (i wasn't friends with rude people or stuck up people) so what I meant by that was you sounded like a nice girl! :) I can relate alot to what you have to say to your sixteen year old self. Maybe I should write one of these soon.


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