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.
But…TRY HARDER.
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.
Volunteer.
Don’t be afraid to dance.
Listen.
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?
Ashley Stock
I'm Ashley. Sometimes I craft, occasionally I cook, everyday I write, and I'm always Momma. This is my blog. I keep it real while still seeing the rainbows and butterflies in all of life's lessons.
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock

Latest posts by Ashley Stock (see all)

Ashley Stock

Comments

  1. Mom of the Twinkies and Tot! says:

    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 03…so we are the same age…must be why this hit home!

  2. Savannah says:

    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!!!
    http://chasingmynoah.blogspot.com/

  3. Audrey Crisp says:

    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!

  4. Love this. :)

  5. Elena @ Selfie Magic says:

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

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

  7. Cherry Blossoms says:

    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.

  8. McKenzie says:

    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.

  9. Erica @ Acire Adventures says:

    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.

  10. Amanda says:

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

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

  12. Marianne says:

    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.

  13. A Randomlicious Blog for the Soul says:

    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.

  14. Nina @ Momma Go Round says:

    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.

  15. 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.

  16. Lindsay says:

    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!

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

  18. McKenzie says:

    Here is the link to mine. This was such a great learning moment.
    http://girllovesglam.blogspot.com/2011/05/advice-for-16-year-old-mckenzie.html

  19. The Vintage Modern Bride says:

    ah this post made me cry. i love it!

  20. Sundresses and Smiles says:

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

  21. Kristina says:

    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."

  22. Randi Lynn says:

    I did this a while back!
    http://randilynn-lifeandtimes.blogspot.com/2010/09/looking-back-and-letter-to-my-past-self.html
    Even though being sixteen was only a few years ago, it's crazy how much has changed for me since then!

  23. One in the SAHM says:

    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? :)

  24. 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:

    http://www.jametara.blogspot.com

  25. Kassandra @ Coffee and their Kisses says:

    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.

  26. Anonymous says:

    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 :)

  27. Poyer the Lawyer says:

    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!!

  28. Shannon Olson says:

    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

  29. Jayna Rae says:

    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.

  30. Anonymous says:

    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!

  31. Ty and Whitty says:

    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.
    tyandwhitneyulrich.blogspot.com

  32. Tahnie says:

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

    P.S. – You made me cry. ;)

  33. 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!

    CarissaExplainsItAll

  34. Nichelle @ Vintage Wanna Bee says:

    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.

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

  36. Shelley says:

    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

  37. Julie M. says:

    Cute! And how tall are you?

  38. Dragonfly Stitches says:

    Ashley…you 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 dragonflystitches.blogspot.com. Thank you for being you!!! You are amazing in so many ways!!

  39. Heather says:

    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.

  40. retrohipmama says:

    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!

  41. Anonymous says:

    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 :)

  42. grace @ahead says:

    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
    http://www.aheadinteractivetutorial.com. thanks!

  43. Lindsi says:

    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

  44. Carmen says:

    I just want to thank you for this beautiful post!

  45. Cheeky D says:

    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!

  46. Aubrey says:

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

  47. 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!!

    http://lifelovesleah.blogspot.com

  48. My Life By Hand says:

    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!
    http://www.mylifebyhand.blogspot.com

  49. Anonymous says:

    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.

  50. Heather M says:

    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!!

  51. Bri @ Mod Memento says:

    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!!! :)

  52. 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! :)

  53. 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!!

  54. 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! =)

    Kari

  55. M.O.T.B says:

    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:)

  56. pakosta says:

    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!
    hugs!
    tara

  57. Kristen Duke Photography says:

    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.

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

    http://amandamaddox.blogspot.com/2011/05/letter-to-16-year-old-me.html

    Thanks for the push….

  59. 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.

  60. Thank you so much for this post! It brought tears to my eyes, I wish I could have had a friend like you in high school! I might have made it through without so many bumps and bruises :) I wanted you to know that you inspired me to write this note to myself on my recent anniversary. We just hit our 6 year and I thought it would be fun to try and remember what I thought about getting married at 20, not too much! Anyways, this is my first comment on your site, I don’t know why I’ve been so nervous! I’ve followed you since the beginning and have conversed with you a couple times on email, thanks for that! You truly are amazing! Have a fabulous weekend!
    http://modernwivelyhood.blogspot.com/2011/08/remembering-small-things-dear-newlywed.html

  61. This brought tears to my eyes! Man, we are about the same age (I graduated in 03) and most of what you said I would have told myself the too! Its amazing what 10 years will do to you. The wisdom that you gather in those 10 years HAS to be so much more than any other time frame in life.

  62. Elke Martinez says:

    Going to have my 16 yearold read this and write one herself today:) What a great post!

  63. Oh my gosh! I love this!!! I have tears right now. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. You are one amazing woman!!

  64. How many comments in one day qualify as stalker status lol, seriously this is my 3rd, but I just love your blog and your writing!

  65. Leesa Gray says:

    Loved this sooooo much. It made me cry. (Of course I was listening to Josh Groban’s Believe at the time.) Nonetheless it struck a chord inside me. Thank you for sharing.

  66. I can so relate to this post! It’s as if you were thinking things I have thought and lived a life oh so similar to mine! Crazy! I got chills several times while you were writing! I am so glad I found your blog! Blessings to you!

  67. If only I would have known someone like you at the age of 16- someone who would have shared a note like this for me to read. I have always thought about writing a letter for my 16 year old self (maybe so my daughter could read someday). Thanks for sharing! You are such a great writer.

  68. I just stumbled across your blog and this post and thought it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. I wish I had your words of wisdom and advice at 16. Even now at 28, your words are meaningful and inspiring. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself many of the things you’ve said here. Sometimes I think I even need to be reminded as an adult that I need to just be ME even if it’s scary at times. Beautiful words…thanks for sharing.

  69. Amazing post! Tearjerker.

  70. so beautiful. such amazing writing.

  71. Ashley K says:

    I found your blog today and I absolutely love it! In some way, I feel a special connection to you since my name is also Ashley. But also, all these things you write about (here especially since I am 16) and how you write and then think about it and find the silver lining,etc. Well, that’s what I do. When I read that and read some of your posts I think, “Oh my goodness- this is me!” Thank you for this inspiration and please keep writing. I love your love story posts, it’s like a freaking movie!! Anyways, I hope to one day to live a life like you. Thank you for the inspiration. Love, Ashley K <3

  72. Loved this post . Gave me some ideas to write to my daughter who will be turning 16 in a few weeks .

Trackbacks

  1. [...] of Baby W enjoying a giant pie inspired this post.  An old picture of me as a teenager inspired this post. Pictures of Baby W’s mess inspired this post.  Pictures evoke feelings, and feelings [...]

  2. [...] Letter to Younger (or Older) Me: This was one of my favorite writing exercises ever.  I learned a lot about myself in the process.  I wrote a letter to 16 year old me, from 27 year old me.  You can do the same thing, looking back on any age that may have been pivotal in your life. [...]

  3. [...] can read about my experience in high school here. BioTwitterFacebookGoogle+Latest Posts Ashley StockBlogger at Little [...]

  4. [...] An Instant Lady With the Glasses A Bit of My Story Mommy Guilt: One Momma’s Rant  Letter to 16 Year Old Me The College [...]

Leave a Comment

*