December 04, 2012

Letter to my 17 year old Self

Today is my 27th Birthday.

As a way to reflect and consider my life over the past decade, I decided to write a letter to myself--just some simple advice that I wish I could have heard this time ten years ago.

Dear Me,

Happy 17th Birthday!  You’ve made it a year as a driver and you’re in the thick of high school--not the youngest, but still not the oldest. 

Oh, where should I start?  If you could read this in 2002, I know you would soak up every word, probably tape the letter to your mirror and examine it every day. Here are a few pointers, some encouragement and some fair warnings.

Treasure your friendships. Your high school friends will be there for you through so many stages. They will laugh with you, cry with you and point you closer to God. When you all go different directions at various stages, make a point to keep up with them. There is something special about a childhood bond.

Keep spending hours on the phone and with Mary Jane.  Take advantage of cheap gas prices, and drive around with the sunroof down, playing music and dreaming about your future.

Almost all of your friends will be involved with a sport, be a cheerleader or be on the dance team.  Go ahead and try out, but don’t fret too much if you don’t make it. {ahem}  Fill up your time with the school newspaper, student government, the literary magazine, youth group and your friends.  And be thankful you aren’t weekly stressed by having to learn a dance that you would inevitably mess up on.

You have just experienced the stress of Mom having cancer--something no daughter should ever have to face.  Now that she has a new beginning, spend as much time with her as possible.  You are already more like her than you know.  Within the next decade, as you experience college, moving to a new city and adulthood, she will be a constant source of comfort, wisdom, laughter, advice and companionship.  She will become your best friend.

 Speaking of family members, you are surrounded by some of the best.  Starting very soon, you and Gran Fran will develop a habit of talking daily over the phone.  These moments of conversation will be one of the best and most grounding times.  

Aunt Susan will be a constant source of encouragement and sage advice for you--on everything from decorating to loving Jesus.

You already love and appreciate him, but your admiration for Dad will continue to blossom. Take time to ask him about his life before you--his experiences in Viet Nam, his time working for Ford and Coke--and continue to listen to his advice. Treasure his prayers and his leadership within the family. His love for the Lord will and his love towards you is a model emulating the love your Heavenly Father has for you.

And your brother, Josh.  As much as you argue over everything from the radio station in the car to sharing the bathroom, just wait.  {spoiler alert} You will both attend the same college and grow closer during those years.  You will actually rely on him for help at times and he will be a ready source of advice as well as a listening ear.  

Learn to listen.  You like to talk, but one day you will love to listen to others.  You will be able to decipher what is really in their hearts instead of rushing to tell them what is in yours.  You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Live in the moment.  You are such a planner and that will not change (it will actually come in quite handy in your future career) but at times it will drain you.  Savor each phase of life, even if you feel anxious to get to the next.  “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Finally, pay attention to that desire urging you to travel--explore new places, try different food and meet new people. Your current world is such a nurturing environment that is perfect for this stage of life, but there is so much more "out there."

You have got an incredibly fun decade ahead of you. College. Living on multiple continents. Life in the big city. You will also be stretched and challenged in ways you would not be able to understand at this point, which is why all of that is in the future. Remember how Dad ends his prayers, "Lord, we look forward to the future because the future is in your hands." Amen.

What do you wish you had known ten years ago?


  1. Wow, this is one of my favorite posts. Such practical advice! Hope you have a wonderful birthday today :)

  2. Oh to have had ANY wisdom 10 years ago - much less something as rich as this..! :)
    2 favorite lines:
    “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
    "Lord, we look forward to the future because the future is in your hands."
    Love this wisdom & this post! Thanks for sharing Em!! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  3. Love this, Em! It made me tear up! Wonderful wisdom for a 17 yr old & this 31 yr old! :) Hope all is well!

  4. Love it Em!! I am so thankful for you and our friendship! I cant wait to celebrate with you over Christmas!!


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