what would you say to your teenage self?

N ineteeen years ago, I was sixteen.

My hair was curlier, my legs were thinner and my heart was fragile, nervous, and searching. It’s good to think back on those days. I have lots of good memories. But I wouldn’t relive them for any amount of food or money.

On the day when Grace for the Good Girl released into the bookstores on September 1st last year, Graceful slipped quietly, invisibly through the internets into the inbox of my editor.

That was a stressful day.

Graceful was hard to write, not necessarily because what I have to say is so profound or earth-shattering, but because of who it’s for.

These girls, their hearts, their minds, and their futures pass through our hands for such a short time.

We do not have the final say in how their lives will go, the choices they will make, the direction they will take. But we do have a say, a small one.

We can pray for them on our knees and with full hearts because we must.

We can be available to our daughters, babysitters, young neighbors, and nieces and baby sisters.

We can listen to her.

We can see her.

We can also try to remember what it was like.

I’ve been looking forward to this week for a while now. I’ve asked some of my favorite writers to write a letter to their teenage self. I wrote my own letter I’ll be posting tomorrow.

Today, my dear friend Tsh from Simple Mom wrote a letter to her teenage self, complete with photos. (Read more letter examples).

write your own letter

If you want to write your own letter to your teenage self on your blog this week, link it up here on Friday September 14. What would you tell yourself about life? Love? Fear? God? Leg warmers? Big hair? Belief? I hope you’ll think about it, and then I hope you’ll share it with us. Here’s more information about it. And what’s a letter without a cool button? I have a plethora for you to choose from. What would you say to your teenage self?


  1. says

    Simple Mom is in my news reader, and I loved reading Tsh’s article this morning. I knew she was writing for you before she mentioned it! I’m so looking forward to the rest in the series.

  2. says

    Congrats on the new book Emily!!! I love this idea. I hope I have time to write a post. I just left this over on Tsh’s site in the comments:

    Dear 15 year old self: Learn about boundaries, stand up for yourself more, go out of your way to be nicer to people, spend more time with your dad. Even though nobody has a computer but YOU, it’s not nerdy… learn to use it. Practice drawing more, ask your mom to give you singing lessons (because she was going to do it, but won’t tell you until you are older and you wished you had learned how to sing). Don’t worry about gaining weight. Believe me, you will gain plenty when you go off to college. Enjoy being a skinny, computer, artsy nerd. It will come in handy someday:-)

    This will be a fun linky party. Looking forward to reading everyones posts!

  3. says

    Oh, gosh! This will be interesting. I’ll have to mark it on my calendar!

    Off the top of my head, I would tell my teenage self to NOT DATE THAT BOY.

  4. says

    This is my first time commenting, though I have been reading your blog for some time now and just ordered Graceful as a next step small group for the girls who finished confirmation last year. I am really excited to see them continue to grow in the connections they made over the last two years and in their calling as young women in Christ.

    Anyway, your call inspired me, so my letter is here: http://sonja-thelongandwindingroad.blogspot.com/.

  5. kelly says

    I’m a church youth minister, my husband is a high school teacher, and we foster teens. Our lives are full of teenagers – which leads to reflections. I recently read through some of my journal entries for that time, and it is hard to see how much I was struggling at 16. I wouldn’t write a letter, but I would send a message: Relax. Enjoy life. Don’t make any sudden decisions. No matter what drama happens, in general, our life is good, because we have God’s love and His grace.

  6. says

    Dear me at 16: That Jesus you met last year, He is real. You are not alone. You are loved with an everlasting love.
    He is not asking you to change yourself. Instead, let His love change you. Read His word and pray to know who He is. Forgive those who have hurt you. God has big plans for you but they will be delayed if you don’t forgive. The next ten years will be perilous if you choose to walk in darkness. The emotional pain will be so unbearable that you will cry out to Him. But just to prove His unchanging love and mercy for you, He will answer. You will forgive and be free. He will heal your heart. You could seek Him now; He will lead you in the right way. It’s okay if college is not for you, but take some art lessons. Pay your bills on time and learn to save. Try to be 5 minutes early for everything. Skip those boyfriends and save yourself. The man God chose for you – he is worth the wait! I promise! You will have a family who loves you. You will be a wonderful wife and mom. You will be an artist; you will minister to others through this gift. You will have the desires of your heart but it will all be for His glory. Walk with Jesus and never let go of His hand. Trust me when I say: He loves you more than I do. Yours truly, Jenn

  7. says

    this was a stretch in a good way! i am so thankful that i found your book for grown up me and will soon be reading the one for 16 year old me. will link it friday.

  8. says

    I’m new here and trust you are the Nester’s sister? Funny…I’m not sure what here real name is…other than “the nester”! Anyway, I’m not sure how to even link up, other than to include your URL in my blog post. I’m winging it here…can you tell? :)
    Congrats on your newest book!,

    • says

      Thanks, Barbara! And yes, I’m Nester’s sister. It’s fun, let me just tell you. So to link up just come back tomorrow – you’ll see. There will be a place for you to put the link to your blog post in on my blog tomorrow. Hope you’ll be back!

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