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May 21, 2010 / Jenny Ann Fraser

Letter To My 16-Year-Old Self

About a year ago, a CBC radio show asked two celebrity guests to write a letter to their 16-year-old selves and read it on air.  The idea inspired me to write a letter to myself.

Stop and smell the lilacs

Dear Jenny,

It’s May 2010, a long, long time from where you are right now, and there is a lot that I want to tell you.

The first, thing I want to tell you, is that I love you. You might think that this is a crazy thing to be telling myself, but it isn’t. It is the most important thing, because without that.  Life will be very difficult.

I haven’t always loved you, and I’m sorry to say that I have actually hated you.  I’m only just beginning to understand how to love you now, but please, please, know that I do and I promise never to stop.

I, your future self, am not crazy, or stupid, although I have done some crazy,  and stupid things.  Don’t worry about that. We all do. Please try to keep an open mind here.

There are no rules, only cause and effect. Don’t hurt people.  Don’t hurt the planet. If everyone got this, the world would be very different.  Unfortunately, you can’t change other people, so focus on doing the right things yourself.  Maybe it will catch on.  Don’t get yourself all caught up in trying not to make mistakes.  It’s how we learn and learning is what we’re all here for. You will make many mistakes, but you need to forgive yourself. Don’t be afraid. You will be alright.

You are much, much smarter than you think you are, so don’t sell yourself short.  Stop thinking that you’re less than all of your friends because they get better marks than you do.  Marks don’t mean as much as you have been taught to think.Every single human being on this planet is as important as any other, and that includes you. It doesn’t matter what kind of marks you get or what you’re good at or what you accomplish.  Try your best, but remember that you are valuable and loved, and worthy… even when you fail.

Money, cars, clothes or any other possessions don’t really matter that much, but people do.  What matters is what you contribute to the world, not what you get from it. And since I know you think I’m nuts now, let me clarify with one sentence. “Give, and you shall receive.”

Not having a boyfriend is not the worst thing that will ever happen to you so don’t be with anyone unless it feels right. You will learn how to wait, and waiting will be worth it. I’m certain of that.

I’m sorry to tell you, that life isn’t going to be easy, but what you learn from it will be your greatest gift. A lot of your dreams might not come true, but whatever you do, don’t stop creating new ones. You will get better at it, and not dreaming is not living. You won’t get anywhere without your dreams.

Don’t be angry.  I know that’s a tall order, but no matter how right you are, being angry will only hurt you.

Learn to forgive.  I wish I could tell you some magic formula to make this easy, but there isn’t one, and I’m just starting to figure it out myself.  Just try. Try as hard as you can to forgive everyone and everything that ever hurts you, but most of all forgive yourself. It’s the only way you’ll ever truly be happy.

Be kind. It is your nature. No, people will not always be kind to you. But being kind feels better than anything, and maybe, you’ll set an example. Do it. It’s important. People can be cruel, but this magical Universe that we live in isn’t. It might seem that way at times, but there is always beauty to be found. Make a constant effort to find it and you will know how to find peace.

Being kind doesn’t mean you have to make everyone happy.  You’ll never be able to do that, and you need to learn when and how to put yourself first. You will never be able to give the world your best if you don’t take care of your own needs, so learn how to do that too.

You know how, when you stare at clouds for a while, you can make pictures with your mind? Well, don’t ever stop looking for the pictures in the clouds. Take the time to pay attention to the birds, and the trees and the flowers, and all of the animals that you pass every day. Stop and smell the lilacs,they only bloom for a short time. Be grateful for what you find. This is another important part of how to be happy.

On a lighter note, (you’ll see the humour in this one day) I have to break it to you that George Michael is gay.  Really, really gay.  This is not just some high-school rumor created by insecure boys. You’ll get over it, but your family will never forget it.  I assure you, you’ll learn to laugh with them.

Ok. I’m done now. I could go on forever, but I’m laughing because I know you and you probably don’t believe a word I’ve said, especially the George Michael Thing … don’t worry,  you will. So, in parting, I’d like to tell you one last crazy thing. (I swear to you, there are no lies here.)

40, IS NOT OLD!

See, I knew you wouldn’t believe me. But I still love you.

Jenny

I’m curious; What would you say if you wrote your 16-year-old self a letter?

Want to read more?  Check out missmom2u at The Motherhood Umbrella.

And Bethan Stritton’s  This is What I’d Say at Grow Your Own Gorgeousness.

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36 Comments

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  1. Viv / May 21 2010 9:30 am

    This is very moving.
    I did once revisit a painful scene of my life via a dream and offered comfort to my 19 year old self; funny but when I woke, I remembered not only the dream but also the memory of that night and having had a sense of someone being there, trying to comfort me. Circular maybe but it worked.

    • jennyannfraser / May 21 2010 9:56 am

      Thanks Viv!
      I really think that it does work to revisit the past in that way. When you look at what you know now vs. any time in your past, it should be easy to forgive yourself what you didn’t know.
      Jenny

  2. Amanda / May 21 2010 10:54 am

    I love it and I love this idea! I accept your challenge! lol My letter will be posted on my blog by the end of today!

    • jennyannfraser / May 21 2010 3:19 pm

      I can’t wait to read it Amanda! Thanks for reading.

  3. Greg Blencoe / May 21 2010 9:19 pm

    Hi Jenny,

    Wow, this is an OUTSTANDING blog post! I loved it!

    Perhaps my favorite part was when you said:

    “Learn to forgive.”

    I turned 36 in February. Around the time I turned 30, I started to realize that the more I let go, the happier I became. That didn’t mean I stopped making people accountable. But too often I was majoring in minor things when I was upset at something. Usually, it is better to just let things go. And I totally agree that this applies to forgiving yourself and not just other people.

    I normally don’t put my own links in comments, but here is a similar post that I wrote back in February where I tried to think about what I would tell my 18-year-old self if I could:

    “20 things I have learned since I was 18 years old”

    http://www.positivewavesbaby.com/?p=150

    However, like you mentioned, I don’t think my 18-year-old self would have understood much of what I was saying. Some things you have to experience to really learn.

    • jennyannfraser / May 22 2010 9:36 am

      Thanks so much Greg! I’m so glad you liked it.
      Your list was beautiful and inspiring. I feel like I have to write another letter to myself. I missed some things! LOL.
      Thanks again for your kind words.
      Jenny

  4. Chris Edgar / May 22 2010 5:17 pm

    Thanks for this — I enjoyed this insight into who you are and the growth you’ve gone through. I think I’d say to my 16-year-old self that “it’s okay to explore things you’d like to do — you don’t have to look perfect or match up with anyone’s vision of how your life is supposed to be.”

    • jennyannfraser / May 22 2010 9:05 pm

      That’s fabulous advice at any age Chris! Thanks for the comments!

  5. Bethan Stritton / May 23 2010 12:29 am

    Hi Jenny, I loved your post and I will be writing my letter later today. That was so funny what you wrote about George Micheal!! My husband insisted that George was gay when I first met him and I put it down to him being insecure … but sure enough … all those boys were right!! As soon as I’ve written my letter I’ll be back to let you know what happens.
    Bethan

  6. Angela Artemis / May 23 2010 8:09 pm

    Jenny, I found your blog via Greg Blencoe’s 10 Must Read Posts – where one of your posts and mine was listed

    I love this idea of writing to your 16 year old self! How marvelous. I would say many of the things you’ve said to my 16 year old self as well.

    I would also tell her to not be ashamed of having dreams – not to shrink back and do the most practical thing for fear that others would laugh at her dreams. I would tell her NOT to listen to her father when she went to college and he said she should become an accountant. I would tell her to follow her heart and be an English major and write! (when I went to college most schools didn’t offer creative writing or journalism majors). I would tell her that her dreams are valid and worth pursuing!

    Thank you for this exercise. It connected me to emotions I’d long forgotten.

    • jennyannfraser / May 24 2010 9:01 am

      Thank you for visiting Angela,
      Your dreams are worth pursuing. That is great advice that we could all probably use at any age!
      I loved your post about intuition! Excellent advice also. I found it really helpful.

  7. Topi / May 24 2010 2:32 am

    Hi Jenny,
    I’ve come here via Positive Waves Baby, and Greg’s recent post listing 10 must read posts. I love this post, and what a great idea and a powerful tool. I think I’m going to have a to write a letter to my 16 year old self. Like you, I doubt she will listen to me (she never listened to her Mum, who is very wise, so why should she listen to me!). I wonder what I’ll say!
    Topi
    PS – love the George Michael bit!

    • jennyannfraser / May 24 2010 9:05 am

      Thank you Topi!
      Ah, yes, 16-year-olds must be pre-programmed not to listen to anyone or anything. I was pretty much the same even though I was a pretty good kid.
      Let me know if you write a letter and I’ll add your link to the bottom! I know that it was quite helpful to me. Thanks for stopping by!

    • jennyannfraser / May 24 2010 9:05 am

      Thank you Topi!
      Ah, yes, 16-year-olds must be pre-programmed not to listen to anyone or anything. I was pretty much the same even though I was a pretty good kid.
      Let me know if you write a letter and I’ll add your link to the bottom! I know that it was quite helpful to me. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. rob white / May 24 2010 12:42 pm

    Hi Jenny Ann,
    First and foremost I would tell myself not to listen to the howling voices of “NO” that bombarded me. At a very impressionable age we all hear these No’s to some extent. It is with the onslaught of these NO’s that we began losing trust in ourself as we accept limiting opinions that were attached to those NO’s. We began questioning our ability to create the future that we fantasized about as children. This change in attitude and mood gave birth to the counterfeit self, which continued to grow as we heard more ‘NO’s. Almost every emotional scar that we carry with us through life is a consequence of those unnatural echoes that howl, ‘NO’ from deep in our consciousness.

    And then I would remind myself to, “call your mother!”

    • jennyannfraser / May 24 2010 3:35 pm

      Beautiful words Rob! What great advice. I’ve learned so much from others since writing this post. I am truly inspired.
      It’s so true that we learn from an early age to limit ourselves and therefore not reach our full potential. It’s a bit of a battle,but at the same time it’s so inspiring to be able to connect with others who recognize our own limited thinking and choose a path of personal growth.
      Thanks for visiting and sharing!

      • Bethan Stritton / May 24 2010 3:45 pm

        Hi Jenny … Okay I’ve done my letter and posted it on my blog. What a powerful process that was! I realised just how disconnected I was from that past self and I’ve never really considered what I was going through at that time in my life. A lot of it was rather blurry.

        Anyway, thanks so much for this post. It’s really shifted, awakened something in me and feel almost a little tearful (in a good way).
        X

        • jennyannfraser / May 24 2010 5:36 pm

          It’s lovely Bethan!
          It is a powerful process. I’m not sure why I was so attracted to it when I first heard the idea, but I’m glad we went for it!
          I’ve linked to your post at the bottom of mine. Thanks so much for joining in!

  9. I loved your post. Loving yourself is the best thing that you can learn how to do.

    I would tell my 16-year-old self: You will survive and you will eventually learn to love the person you become because of the abuse. You will become a woman of courage and compassion.

    Thanks for the inspiration of your post.

    • jennyannfraser / May 24 2010 7:19 pm

      Thanks for reading Patricia. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Isn’t it amazing to realize what we have become?

    • jennyannfraser / May 24 2010 7:19 pm

      Thanks for reading Patricia. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Isn’t it amazing to realize what we have become?

  10. Emily Jane / May 25 2010 8:29 am

    What a wonderful idea, I loved reading it. It’s incredible when we make the time to look back on our journeys and how far we’ve come from the people we used to be. I sometimes catch myself wishing I could warn my younger self about all the dangers that lay ahead but then I remind myself that I had to go through the bad and make the mistakes in order to grow as a person… that everything happened for a reason 🙂

    • jennyannfraser / May 25 2010 9:48 am

      Hi Emily,
      It’s so true that every experience is a valuable lesson, and that all of the experiences that I’ve had were absolutely necessary no matter how difficult they may have been at the time. It would be easy to get caught in the “what if” trap, but then we’re stuck and cannot move forward.
      Thank you for reading!

  11. tobeme / May 25 2010 2:06 pm

    Jenny Ann,
    This is a great exercise. I would say many of the same things you said your younger self. I would also say to trust in yourself, trust in what you feel and stay the course and try not to be distracted by shiny objects that hold empty promises. I would also say take your time in regards to relationships, there are worse things then being alone and the right person is so worth the wait. Be true to yourself above all else.

    • jennyannfraser / May 25 2010 6:12 pm

      Hi Mark,
      What great advice. This has for me been a very rewarding post in so many ways. It’s been fascinating to hear what everyone has to say. Thanks for playing!

  12. Keith Davis / May 26 2010 1:45 pm

    Hi Jennyann
    A very emotional post – found myself reading and thinking that I could be saying those words to myself.
    A touching, moving and very brave post – loved it.

    • jennyannfraser / May 26 2010 2:19 pm

      Thank you so much for reading Keith! I very much appreciate your taking the time to comment.

  13. Jenny, I linked back to this article in my post on my blog Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker today. Thanks for helping to inspire me with this Letter.

    • jennyannfraser / May 26 2010 3:44 pm

      Well thank you Patricia! That is a huge compliment and is greatly appreciated!

  14. JBR / May 27 2010 4:24 am

    Jennifer, appreciate your transparency. Your post touched my heart. Forgiveness is hard to come by, especially with my own self. But, in time, as I continue on my journey, God will see me through. Thank you for sharing and blessings to you and yours.

    • jennyannfraser / May 27 2010 11:15 am

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Forgiveness is hard, but it is achievable.

      “You did then what you knew how to do, And when you knew better, You did better.” _Maya Angelou

  15. Tim / May 27 2010 11:05 am

    I’m glad to have been a part of that time in your life, Jenny!
    Thanks for sharing this with us…
    (…and for sharing some smooches with meeee!)

    • jennyannfraser / May 27 2010 11:17 am

      I too feel very lucky to have had you in my life, and to have you now even if it is via the internet. There are very few times in my life that I look back on and would like to relive… especially not my teenage years except for…

  16. Fred Lade / Jun 6 2010 9:31 pm

    I love the letter to your 16 year old self. I would like to say that just like my 16 year old self that greatfully actually knew your 16 year old self, I love you too. Its simple and heartfelt and full of memories of long walks down quiet streets with only the sound of your tales of future adventures echoing around us. My 16 year old self would like to thank you for befriending a sometimes shy and certainly ackward kid who still remembers that night after one of your triumps when you selected him to walk home with. Funny how these small things stay with us.

    • jennyannfraser / Jun 8 2010 9:53 am

      Ah, Fred,
      Don’t forget we were both awkward. I think everyone was. How wonderful that we still have each other to laugh about those old times! I’m so glad you stopped by!

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