Friday, September 14, 2012

A Letter to my Teenage Self (and a giveaway)





Dear 16-year old Shannan,

Girl, I know I'm supposed to tell you how lovely and beautiful and perfectly right you are, and I suppose all of those things are true, but here, twenty years later, my first thought about you is that you're kind of strange. You're an odd duck, okay? Just a little. Not so much that you have trouble blending. The truth is, I love you for it. Because your weird self taught my weird self that it's still alright. Different is the new popular. So don't sweat the fact that all your friends play sports and you still can't do a cartwheel. Wear that Periodic Table of the Elements t-shirt like the stunning frock that it is. Own your lankiness, never apologize and please, for the love, never, ever cry about it.

While you're there rocking your quirks, give your friends a hug. I know, you're not a big hugger (yet) but those girls with the perms and the Clearasil, the ones you've known since you were 5, they will ground you now and forever. They'll root you so deeply in a silly, fierce High School kind of love that you'll carry them with you for a long, long time, hopefully forever. You're lucky, girl, because they're so much like you. Their families lack cash in the same way yours does, and the wonder of that is you collectively don't have the option of caring much about what you wear or where you go. They'll drive you to early morning choir practice and Taco Bell in gigantic, ugly cars because you're obviously less motivated in the ways of a typical 16-year old. Be sure to give 'em some gas money. (Five bucks buys half a tank!) These friends will be mostly responsible for honing your odd sense of humor, and that is a gift, even if no one else in the room sees it that way. Be kind to them, always. Don't try so hard to be tough when those inevitable arguments pop up. Love them for every amazing thing they are because it's true, they're you and you're them. You have no idea yet how rare it is to luck into such a circle.

Wanna know who else is stinking funny? Your mom and dad. I know you don't necessarily love your mom's penchant for singing made-up songs in silly voices, but what you don't know yet is that you'll carry her "talent" into motherhood one day, pulling it out when you need a nudge through a grumpy or mundane slice of day. (Your little kids will love it. It's too soon to say how they'll feel about it in adolescence, though I think we both have a good idea.) She'll teach you so much about compassion and sacrifice. She'll still be calling you "honey" when you wear wrinkle cream and drive a mini van.

Yes, your dad is maddening. You get it from him. You know that, right? So keep laughing "with" him - he loves it. Notice that being raised in a sub-culture of quirkiness frees you up to be wholly you. There's a reason your friends want to hang out with him when he chaperones the trip to Tennessee. He's fun. Don't waste time in frustration over his perfectionism. You'll find a way through the middle of it, and you'll do it on your own terms. It will contribute to your current and later successes and you'll toss it to the curb when it suits your whims.

You have a good brain. I get it. But would it kill you to put in a little more effort? An illustration: The whale's name is Moby Dick. That's his name. You would know this if you read the book or even if you simply paid attention to the movie in Mrs. Blake's class. (You owe Erin a nachos supreme for handing you that choice bit of information one hour before the paper is due, but you'll pay her instead with the promise to include a line from Hotel California in your report. You'll get an A+. Erin will just shake her head.)

Okay. Deep breath. Remember how the boys don't really seem to notice you "like that"? One comes along who does. He's cute and broken and that combination proves disastrous for you. Before long, you feel stuck. Here's the thing: you're not stuck. Your the smart, stubborn girl who follows her gut, remember? Do that, please. Your instincts are almost always right. Listen to them right now. Don't wait so long. Don't waste one more day feeling bad about yourself or pretending that everything is fine when most people know he's mean to you. Stop believing that it's up to you to fix him or that he'd have nothing without you. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is walk away. Sometimes that's what it takes for someone to be fixed.

Oh, don't quit band. It's hard to explain, but you'll still dream twenty years later about marching around the field while Mr. Jenkins shouts through his megaphone. Choosing between church camp and band camp seems like a no-brainer, but try harder to make them both work. If Jenk just won't budge, then yeah, go to camp. You need to stay up half the night talking to Sarah, Jenn and Becky. They're a  new group of friends, but they're strange like you, and that experience will carry you right into your future. It'll determine where you go to college in a few short years, and you'll meet your future husband there. (He's super hot and never, ever mean.)

You're lovely, Girl. It's true. You'll be amazed at the life ahead of you, so full of surprises and yeah, some pain, but mostly redemption and beauty. You've already learned how to love life well, how to notice the details and elevate them. Thanks for that.

Now, go give your little sister a hug. Really confuse her and give her a kiss. She'll change the world with you, one day. I'd tell you to hug your big brother, but we both know he won't let you. Save that hurt for something different. It really is his loss. And one day, he'll soften.

Go eat some salsa, one of your earliest, truest loves. Read a fashion magazine. (You won't ever strut the cat walk, but you'll never stop loving the idea.) 

Keep fighting for the under-dog - you can't imagine where that instinct will find you later on. Read your Bible more, not because people say you should, but because you'll find grace there, and that grace changes everything.

Fierce love,
36-year old you



My friend Emily Freeman invited me to write this letter to my teenage self. Her newest book, for teenagers, is called Graceful and it released this week. It's the exact sort of book I would have devoured as a teenager, dotting the pages with secret tears. Emily, in all her wonder, can be found here. Graceful can be found at Amazon, B&N, CBD, or wherever books are sold.

Emily has agreed to give a copy of Graceful to two FPFG readers. To enter, tell me in the comments one thing you'd like to tell your 16-year old self. For additional entries blog, facebook, or tweet about Graceful. (Leave a separate comment for each entry.)


102 comments:

  1. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. The parents I mentor have been able to shift their behavior to create an open, harmonious relationship with their teens. The better your relationship with your teen during these already scary years, the safer they will feel in the world and the bigger they will participate. yes now we are here for Connect With Your Teen Daughter with you.

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  2. I love this part so much, "Love them for every amazing thing they are because it's true, they're you and you're them. You have no idea yet how rare it is to luck into such a circle."

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  3. I L-O-V-E this. Especially the part about your parents . Good stuff right there!
    An aside: My junior English teacher was a Ms. Jenkins. She had crazy teeth, was an Anglophile and had a wicked sense of humor none of us really 'got' or appreciated then. We called her "The Jenk." I feel a certain level of comraderie over the fact you had a Jenks, too. And the fact you were ever on a marching (ahem!) field. Band nerd right hurr!
    You right some beautiful stuff, sister.

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  4. I'd like to tell my 16 year-old self to RELAX about boys. And quit trying to be their everything. They have a void, and I'm not going to fill a God-sized whole.

    Really, really want to win this. Probably going to read "Graceful" with my small group senior girls this fall.

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  5. I would tell 16-year-old me that high school is not the pinnacle of life and therefore it doesn't matter if you aren't in the popular crowd (wait until you see those popular kids at your 25th high school reunion. 'Nuff said). So many highlights still in the future.

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  6. Love your letter. :) It's so fresh and truthful. I wrote a letter too...what insight it brings. And now I feel so old. I told my 16-year-old self to enjoy the moment so much more and not be so anxious to grow up!

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  7. I would tell my 16 yr old self, "LOVE and LAUGH" -that is your most important job for the moment"

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  8. I would tell her to stress less about stuff she can't change (like not getting into the National Honor Society). God loves her. :)

    thanks for the chance.
    Barbie F.

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  9. I would tell 16 year old self to embrace her love of home-ec and pursue her creativity just a little bit more!

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    1. I would tell MY.... :)

      Shannan, your letter is perfect and just what most 16 year olds would love to hear!

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  10. I would tell my 16 year old self to trust God more. Seek after Him more. Love Him more. Don't focus on trying to make your life happen. It will happen on its own, with God orchestrating it all! To lay down her plans and to just wait and see what God has planned because it is 100x better than anything she could have imagined!

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  11. Be brave, honey. God is bigger than you think and can do things greater than you could even imagine.

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  12. I would tell my 16 year old self to not worry about what everybody thinks of you!

    DaNelle recently posted...How to stick to ANY diet plan

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  13. And, yes, you should definitely consider the advice and wisdom of others, but your intuition is good. Trust it.

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    1. Eeek.. forgot to mention I did a post on FB!

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  14. Dear 16 year old self. Please trust God with your heart and not the every boy who comes along and asks you to be his date. Remember that God has the perfect boy in mind for you who will make you happier than you could imagine. And another thing, don't worry so much about what others think of you. Know what God loves you and you are the world to him which is why He sent his Son. Believe that and live like you do. And don't be so shy and afraid to talk to people. The world is full people who want to talk...take time and have courage. Love, 49 year old self.

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  15. I loved this post and this has me thinking...if I were to say one thing right now to me at 16, it would be: Stop the drama.

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  16. I made a bee-line over here to read your letter because I knew it would be amazing. And it is. And you are. I bet your 16-year-old self would have been friends with my 16-year-old self. But I think I've already told you that. Keep being you! {Oh my gosh, that last sentence totally sounds like something I'd have written in a yearbook. Will I ever grow up!?!}

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  17. I wouldn't resist! I wrote one and linked up! what fun.

    amanda over at hillpen

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    1. I just realized my comment made no sense. I meant to say "I couldn't resist writing a letter," in case you thought my advice to my sixteen year old self was to "not resist" and have insane wild sex or something.

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  18. Lovely {and humorous} and full of truth.

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  19. Be yourself and quit comparing to others! Looks like a great book!

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  20. great post. i enjoy the humor in your writing. i would tell my 16 year old self to pluck your brows and enjoy every day with your friends because the time comes when one of them won't be there. i would also tell her to just enjoy the moment, don't be so rushed to always get to the next thing. now i wonder what my 60 year old self will tell 36 year old me?

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  21. The advice I would give to my 16yr old self is the advice I give to my 17 yo daughter: Keep a journal. Don't compromise your integrity. Live to please God, not man. And goodness gracious, HAVE FUN, life will never have fewer responsibilities so enjoy being taken care of!!

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  22. I would tell my 16 yr. old self to stop letting fear of how I will fail keep me from trying at all. Safe and perfect can get in the way of finding meaning or being true to yourself...

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  23. Oh that's easy.

    I would tell my younger self to spend every single second I could with my mother.

    She passed away in my early 20's and I still regret not spending more time with her. But she was supposed to always be there, right?

    Right??

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  24. Lovely post.

    I'd tell my 16 year old self - Yes you're in a relationship with a fun boy, but you don't need to plan your college experience around him. You're giving up your dreams and you know its wrong. You'll have great experiences either way cause you have the ability to make the best of every situation but you will always wonder what would have happened if you had applied to a girls college and studied abroad.

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  25. I love this idea. I did this a while back: http://my-own-yellow-wallpaper.blogspot.com/2012/04/letter-to-myself.html it is fun to look back at yourself as a teen.

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  26. I would love to tell my 16-year-old self to get a handle on my anxiety issues lest it lead me into many years of unnecessary worry.

    Thanks for the giveaway! The book sounds fabulous and my 15-year-old would love it!!

    ~Nancy (NancyDave590 at gmail dot com)

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  27. That was beautiful and I think we can all relate to so many elements in it. Glad I discovered your site!!

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  28. Don't feel to bad about moving a million times when growing up because the last place you move you will meet the most wonderful,caring , loving man (who was raised Amish)that you will spend the rest of your life with. Have 5 children that are truly a blessing from above and meet wonderful people on your journey, like Shannon.♥ ~Michelle H.(Philip's mom:) (bmhersh@ambt.net)

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    1. Having 5 perfectly healthy children when I was my 16 year old type 1 diabetic self would not have been a easy task to think of doing.And only through God and my growing faith could this have happened.~Michelle

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  29. wow this is a tough one....could I write a letter to my single dad of my teenage self?

    okay teenage self. You actually are right about so many things because you've had to think like an adult since you were 9 years old. Its just that your confidence wont catch up with you until you emerge from that other train wreck of a time in your life known as your twenties. Dont be so hard on yourself for having to grow up a little faster than your peers. You had to skip a few life lessons along the way to keep up but the good Lord will bring you back to revisit those lessons in his right timing and that is OKAY.

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  30. sooo much to say to my teenage self.
    i might just have to write up a letter myself.
    seems so therapeutic.

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  31. To my 16-year-old-self: everything happens for a reason... God's reason. It may be unclear now... But give it 6-7 years.... Parent' Divorce, moving from Indiana to Wisconsin... Broken hearts in high school.... God has a very good plan for you, Annie. Be patient and trust HIM. That is what I would say... Btw, I am a HUGE fan of your blog... My daily dose of inspiration and just a bit of crazy....perfection!

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  32. I would tell my 16 year old self that even if my parents didn't show up for any of the meetings, I was still "college material". I was good enough - whether I graduated from college or not, but I had to just to prove them all wrong. A girl with decent grades that's willing to work hard is all it takes . A BA in Psychology with a minor in Education.
    Go me .

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  33. I'd tell myself that boys aren't everything. That I have worth without one and pining away after one is only going to cause tears, frustration, and poor self-esteem. I'd tell myself that I don't have to be ashamed or defensive of good grades, hard work, and my faith. I also would love to read this because I think it would be a great book to read and discuss with the highschoolers I work with now.

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    1. Hey girl! You just won a copy of Graceful. Email me at shannandmartin@gmail.com with your mailing address!

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  34. Shannon. I keep clicking on the "contact me" tab and I can't get it to work :) Can you PLEASE send me your email? I want to email you :) Thanks!
    My email is Jessmillerica@gmail.com Thank You!

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  35. tweeted! https://twitter.com/DearEmmeline/status/246660496957255680

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  36. I'd tell myself that is ok to eat, sleep and breathe horses. But maybe sometimes, it is ok to experience things outside of them. Being one dimensional is kind of boring! Go to that football game and cruise around with your friends, soon enough we will be married with 2 (or 3,4 or 5!) kids and have only a peripherial friendship.

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  37. There are SO many things I'd love to tell myself....

    1.) Your heart will mend. PROMISE!!!!!!!

    2.) Don't always follow your parents advice. Some decisions must be made by YOU.... You are the one to live with your decisions. Just trust me on this one!!!

    3.) If he doesn't like the real you, he doesn't like YOU!!!! Don't conform to his ways just to get him to like you...

    And SOOOOO many more!!!!!! Sorry. i know you said to post just one, but I got carried away. Looks like I'll be writing a "letter to me", too!!!

    Thanks & God Bless!!!
    ~Kathy

    PS - I'd LOVE a copy of the book so I can share it with other young girls in my church & social circle..... :o)

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  38. I'd tell my younger self to stop looking for validation in the arms of some boy and just enjoy life....to know that every family, even the ones we view as "perfect" has some hidden secrets and hurt. Would love to get this to read with my 2 granddaughters, ages 12 & 14. Love you, love you, love you. You are so real! Kathy at ribqueen1965@yahoo.com

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  39. I wish I could just sit down with my teenage self and give me a hug. A real one. I needed it, sheesh . . . But mostly I'd tell myself to relax and get comfortable in my own skin. Although I'm still learning that lesson.

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  40. I would tell my 16 year old self to.... STOP being fearful of everything. What you're feeling is called a panic attack which won't kill you, and soon you will grow wings and fly out of that stress-filled home you are being raised in. OH, and by the way, you don't need to get married to fly free. You should marry that guy you will meet and date for 3 years, but please date him for 5 because you need to be strong before you become a wife. When the time comes and you graduate from high school you can succeed at college or get trained doing whatever you want to ~ if you only will stop fearing and jump right in! Take your time and do interesting things, make and maintain lots of friendships, and stop, please stop, fearing everything. Stop and think about what you might be, pray to see if it is God's will, and then chase it with all you've got!

    Kate
    vikingjob at yahoo dot com

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    1. And YES, these are some of the things I'm telling my pre-teen daughter right now, who is ALSO suffering from fear and anxiety. This is why she became MY daughter, because I know exactly what it is like. Now it makes sense why I suffered those things and a host of other for years. God is so good to let me see beyond what seemed like the futility of my troubles while growing up. ~Kate

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  41. I love this!

    16 year old self,
    Don't take yourself so seriously. God still loves us when we laugh and have fun, and I'm convinced he would even encourage it.
    p.s. You're going to marry that boy someday. But you've got time to be a 16 year old girl now, so enjoy that too.
    Love,
    24 year old you

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  42. Your Dad loves you in his own way. Your relationship with him will amount to an uneasy truce. That's OK. Don't kill yourself trying to make the relationship perfect, it is what it is. Just take it as it comes and remember that he does care about you, even if he never says it.

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  43. I'd say don't wrap your world around a boy. Spend time with your friends. Don't miss it. Many years later, the friends will still be friends and the boy will be long gone.

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  44. Be strong, be kind, be a leader. Don't bow to labels. Be a great friend.
    Introduce yourself to a new kid at school because you were one of those kids.

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  45. I wrote my letter here: http://likeasaturday.com/2012/09/14/dear-me-a-letter-to-my-teenage-self/

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  46. Don't care what people think----! Care about what God thinks-and He just loves you.

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  47. I would tell myself to make deeper and closer friendships with the girls wanting to be friends......instead of trying to be friends with the people who have been labeled "popular"! I have no sisters so a really, REALLY good girlfriend would have been awesome.

    I have 3 girls. One is a teenager, one is a year away and my baby girl turns 9 tomorrow! This book sounds like it will come in handy for many years.
    Erin
    lestickley@yahoo.com

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  48. I'd tell myself...be good, listen to your parents more, they do know a thing or two; spend time staring at Jesus (or even your school work for Pete's sake!), quit looking at boys. Wow, that'd be the tip of the iceberg...I'd love to read it, wish me luck!

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  49. Your life is going to be so sweet, so full that you have absolutely nothing to worry about right now. Just relax. Just have fun. Eat cake! Don't shed a tear worrying about that boy who got away. The man of your dreams is right in front of you.

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  50. I would tell myself not to get hung up on a boy and follow your dreams of going away to college. Messed that one up. :)

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  51. Spend more time with your parents! You NEVER know how long they will be on this earth and embrace the fact that you act like them!

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  52. Seriously loved your letter. I would tell my 16 year old self to throw myself into my school work, seek out the nerds at school, take art classes and just because your father rejected you doesn't mean you have something to prove with the opposite sex.

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  53. I liked your letter, especially that part about the older brother softening. What a sweet hope that would give any younger sister!
    I would tell my sixteen year old self to keep her eyes on Jesus & stop trying to prove herself. She needs to get the chip off her shoulder before it gets bigger.
    I am a new reader to your blog ~ it is such a blessing!

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  54. Embrace the way God made you: Introverted and creative. Treasure friendships and even though you are madly in love with that certain someone still make time for your girls - because you will be spending a lifetime with him (smile). Listen to what God is speaking to your heart. And don't just listen but have the courage to respond. You will never be disappointed. Show love wherever and whenever you can...

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  55. Syvilrott@zoominternet.netSeptember 14, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    You don't have to work so hard yet. There will be plenty of time for that when you are older. Take time for yourself & the ones you cherish, you'll never get that time back so cherish it. Don't be so hard on your mom, she is human too. You will be a mom someday & all the times you are mean will come back to haunt you & you will want to run & hug her. Spend more time with your younger siblings you have no idea how much they look up to you.

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  56. Dear 16 Year Old Chelle,

    Just so you know, you aren't fat, lazy or stupid. I want you to really hear me about this, because if you do, you won't spend the next 20+ years trying so hard to get over being told this all the time.

    You are 5'10" & weigh 120#, there is no fat on your frame, and when he says you are, I want you to look in the mirror and really see yourself as you truly are. You make straight A's girl, you listen in class, read your assignments, and you never have to cram & go crazy studying like your friends. You are fantastic at figuring out things new to you, you love reading, keep doing that. And you will give people anything you have if you feel they need it more than you do. You come home from school, do your homework, what ever needs done around the house to keep it clean, and you will cook supper, do the dishes, and take out the trash before heading to bed. Lazy is not something you are or will become.

    Learn to love who you are, don't let an angry man take all his issues out on you to the point you have lost yourself.

    Love 45 Year Old Chelle

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  57. Dear 16 year old Nichole, stop worrying about what people think about you and start being concerned with how God views you. Find your confidence in HIM.

    loved reading your letter, FPFG. i never win contests, but i'm always hopeful. thanks for the chance!

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  58. Remember- you can want a man, but you don't need one.
    No boy or man can make you happy. You will make you happy. Study what you love & feel passionate about. Help others too. Go to college. Community college or away. Make your own money & eventually live independently before getting married. Don't rush. Everything will fall into place. Surround yourself with people that help you reach your goals & dreams.

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  59. I wish I could tell my 16-year old self, "YOU DON'T HAVE TO TRY TO BE PERFECT ALL OF THE TIME!"

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  60. Dear 16 year old Erin -
    1. Do you see that silly girl in that picture kissing that statue with you? She's a keeper.
    2. Remember how high school dances turned out to be nothing like the prom scene in Footloose? It turns out that life is not very movie-like. It is mostly maintenance with moments of pure sweetness (and maybe some anguish) thrown in. Savor the sweetness.
    3. Your strengths are not things that people look for or notice in high school. Don't worry. They show up eventually.
    4. Stop stressing! Geez, it all works out.

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    1. BTW, you sitting in the gym scrawling, "He stabbed it with his steely SPEAR but he just couldn't kill the beast" a few minutes before the paper was due and then having Mrs. Blake comment, "Great description!" is one of my favorite memories ever. Caleb read this post before I did and he totally knew the story. I'm pretty sure I only got a B on that paper and I was the one who knew who Moby Dick was.

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  61. i am a youth pastors wife... so to think of what i would tell my 16 year old self is not a new question. i simply would say... "guard your heart". from all things that might cause harm. especially hurtful words.

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  62. be kind to your mother, she is trying her very best
    stay away from the dark, brooding boy, he's not mysterious and exciting, he's just mean
    you can do whatever you set your mind to, its going to be amazing

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  64. first i thought,"what a beautiful letter!" and then i clicked on the link and got all choked up and mindful of what my 14-year old daughter might be going through...

    have fun— don't take everything so seriously
    that boy isn't worth that energy

    thanks for sharing about this book- it looks fantastic. i have so many friends with teenage daughters, i'll probably end up picking up a few copies!

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    1. Hey Mama! You just won a copy of Graceful. Email me at shannandmartin@gmail.com with your mailing addy!

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  65. Loved reading your post, as well as the comments.

    The letter to myself starts with "having a boyfriend isn't essential to happiness." But, oh, there's so much more to think on. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  66. 16-year-old-Sharon... just a couple more years of sticking to your guns about all those things you drew the line on (drinking, smoking, sleeping around, etc...) will pay off in ways you never expect....turns out Proverbs is true and God's promises are true. The risks you take now for your Lord (and the subsequent moments of peace and joy in the midst of unpopularity) will play so heavily on your choices in the future. Kudos kid. I know it's not all easy, but keep hoping...your hope is sure. :)

    ps- you never get boobs. but its ok....makes you look skinnier when all your classmates are getting fat. ;)

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  67. Shannan, this is so awesome. If only girls who really are 16 now could know how awesome they are. There is so much I wish I knew at 16, I don't even know where to begin. Above all things, I wish I displayed confidence. I wavered on every thought and decision I made. Book looks great :)

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  68. Don't be afraid to take chances - life is too short not to!

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  69. I'd tell my 16 year old self that boys aren't everything. I'd tell her that you are perfect just the way you are, so stop trying to change yourself to be more like others. The most important thing I'd tell her is to love yourself and who you are!

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  70. Dear 16-year-old Tina,

    There is nothing wrong with you! You are fine just the way you are. You don't have to always try to cover up the pain of not being what you think others want you to be...or who you really are. God made you the way you are for a reason and you are OK.

    Love,
    52-year-old Tina
    thislittlepiggy5(at)mchsi(dot)com

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  71. Funny, I talk to my 16 year-old self everyday in the form of my 15 year-old daughter. My best piece of advice....TRUST YOUR GUT! When the boy tells you how to cut your hair or what clothes to wear, and it feels funny to you, trust your gut!
    My 47 year-old self is better at listening. My daughter is amazing at it and for that, I am grateful!!

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  72. Go to college right after high school, even if you already have a 3 mo old on your hip. It'll be hard, but do it anyway! I wouldn't tell her not to date the cool guy from the party with the super long wavy hair because then she wouldn't have her best friend/daughter. Learn to clean house earlier in life. And don't get a car payment that's twice what you can afford!!

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  73. Quit trying to make everyone else happy, listen to your instincts, pixie cuts are cool, send that demo tape off, marry for love, go to design school, and go live in England.

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  74. You know, I thought about this. At first, I thought a lot that I'd tell 16 year old Sarah about what I now know about love and about who she is, etc. Then I realized that 16 year Sarah would listen politely, roll her eyes, and tell me that it doesn't make a difference, she can't change how she feels about that one boy, and she can't change how to see herself. Then, I thought of one thing that I might say to her that would cause her ears to perk up and really listen: I'd tell her to spend more time with her dad, that he doesn't have as long in this world as she thinks. I'd tell her to pay more attention to those lillies he's growing out in the field, to show more interest in all that old junk he had in the barn, I'd tell her to appreciate it all a lot more and to share that with him. I'd tell her that someday she's going to feel connected to dad in ways that she would never imagine, but that it will be too late then to share these things with him. I'd tell her to go. Go outside and be with him.

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  75. I would tell my 16 year old self that she is completely loved and accepted by God, to trust Him with all her heart.

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  76. I would tell myself to "lighten up" and have more fun! I was way too serious!

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  77. wow... so much I'd share, but mostly "it will all be okay! great even!" I'd love to win this book. :)

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  78. I would tell my 16 year-old self that it's not what happens to you, but how you choose to handle it that makes all the difference. Choose to forgive.
    With 14 and 12 year old daughters, this book sounds like something we need! :)

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  79. I read Emily Freeman's "Grace for the Good Girl" and through the whole thing I was saying, I wish I had read this when I was a teenager - it was what I needed then! I would tell my 16-yr-old self to lighten up - to realize that people think about me a whole lot less than I think they do so I can stop living to impress them - that God pours out His grace on me lavishly and i don't have to work so hard to be good all the time...being "good" comes from the depths of my relationship with God, not by just doing. Oh my, it would be a long letter I think...

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  80. Awesome! I was a pretty confident kid, once I began to understand my fro, but I would tell myself to wait until the boy of my dreams loves Jesus slightly more than me and save myself some painful years. Ps. Sending you things. I hope your unpacked. I didn't have the heart to send it sooner. I want you to like me, not associate me with frenzy. That will come anyway, but in a good way :)

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  81. i love that your friends then are still around. what a gift. and i'm pretty sure my 16 year old self with her oxy face wash would've been your clearasil washing self's bff.

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  82. I would tell my 16 year old self to enjoy the time with my family because I would lose my dad way too soon and I would want to have all that time back. (And to take tons of pictures to have those memories. )

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  83. Dear 16-year-old me,
    You know that guy in the "cool car" that you are bent on dating? Well, he's a loser, and his "cool car" is actually a crappy car.

    Love,
    The saggy but wiser you.

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  84. I would have loved to have had this book when I was a teenager! I would tell myself as a 16 year old, "Quit worrying about what everyone else thinks and is doing. Learn to love who you are find out who that is and what you are about...and really, just hold out till college. Your life long friends are waiting there for you."

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  85. Beautifully written...Love especially your appreciation of your parents...
    Teenage self: Don't waste the time you've been given. It is a true gift, and you are SO worth the effort.

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  86. You are really lovely. I love reading Erin's comment up there, I was so curious which line. And Sarah's...I had to grab the tissues for that.

    And to teenage me...stop trying to set your friend Lee up with all your girlfriends. When you're 26 it'll hit you like a ton of bricks that not only is he the one, but that you could have avoided a lot of riffraff in the meanwhile. Also, please enjoy that body you're always complaining about...it does not go uphill from there. And do lots of traveling before you've got a family b/c 1 ticket is way cheaper than 5. And would it kill you to stick with a foreign language? Or an instrument? Or even crocheting? Because I'd have 20 years experience at something if you would. Thanks. LYLAS.

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  87. Alright I am jumping in also. But not about my 16 year old self but about my daughter. She drove me crazy with the way she would procrastinate and always seemed to come out smelling like a rose. I loved the fact that she had the best friends in the world and for some odd reason they loved coming to our home. But she made my heart dance the day she called to ask me to help her make a red raspberry pie(I knew something or someone was up). And that would be the new cute guy on campus that stole her heart. And no one would have ever believed that my 16 year old would grow to be a gourmet cook, especially me. (She never spent a second in the kitchen even remotely trying to learn to cook). There again was the procrastination and still coming out smelling like a rose! Did I mention she was the funniest and most likeable 16 year old around?? AWWWW!!!

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  88. I would tell my teenage self to slow down, life will unfold on its own in Gods perfect timing! I can't wait to share this with my children when they get a little bigger! :)

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  89. Most of the stuff you stress about won't matter in a few years - or even a few days. Learn that now and then maybe I won't struggle with the same problem so much!

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  90. I'd tell myself the same thing Queen Latifah said she would've told herself (from MORE magazine a few months back) "calm down, it ain't that serious!"

    I think I was morose as a teen. I was also sad, confused and lonely. If anything, as a 40 year old I find I want to go back and give myself a big hug and comfort. To let myself know that most of the stuff that seemed so important will literally NOT matter in a few years time. To enjoy life, laugh more and spend more time with your mom..because sadly, she'll be gone in a few years. More laughing. Less worrying. Rid yourself of the douchey guys and friends surrounding you. Fly your FREAKFLAG HIGH!

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  91. I think we all need to do this.
    Being 16 helped me parent a 16 year old. I remember about 13 years ago one of my favorite pastors counseling me a bit and telling me, "you know, your thirty something self needs to quit beating up your 18year old self. Yeah she made poor choices. But she was doing the best she could with her 18 year old knowledge that she could. Love her. Embrace her. " yeah , this is beautiful , serious stuff.

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  92. It is not always going to hurt this bad. God will heal it, and replace the deep pain with a tender joy. He will replace the hatred with a love based mission.

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  93. Yeah, I know...this is from 2012 and it is what? 2017? Don't ask how I just found this in your archive. I actually just got here from Ann Voskamp's site of all places:-) Shannan, I loved your letter! Have you read this lately? It would be great for you to write a 5 year follow up letter...or maybe you have? Your book! Much love friend. Thanks for sharing.

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