To each his own. To me my own.

A Letter to my 16 year-old Self:

Some time ago, I entertained the notion of writing a letter to one’s 16 year-old self. After posting the idea, it felt overwhelming to me. Every time I’d try to start it, I’d freeze up at the very beginning. A few months went by, and it bothered me that I’d abandoned my proposed ‘project’. It’s not supposed to be a toil, I thought – there’s no right or wrong way of doing it. Some write this letter as a suggestion to change or reroute certain life events – I choose not to do this, but instead to write it as a softened forecast of sorts. As raw as it may be, here it is.

Dear Bonnie,

I know you aren’t really concerned with anything but partying and having a good time right now. I’m going to ask, if I may, for just ten minutes of your undivided attention without you creating an argument as to why.

Your decision to hang with the ‘cool crowd’ will end up being your demise in school. You’ve traded in your good grades and standards of behavior for a poor attempt at coolness. I see how much you’ve changed from age fifteen to sixteen – so much so that it makes your own head spin to think about it. You hate thinking about it as well – so you reach for those funny cigarettes and a bit of alcohol here and there in order to push the ugly truth further from your head. What you don’t realize, my dear, is that these seemingly simple substances will evolve into a larger abuse more destructive than you’re able to maintain control of. Your downward spiral has only just begun.

Just around the corner, self-destruction awaits you. Over the next few years you’ll continue to feed this destruction, justifying it as ‘having a good time’. There are people in your life who struggle to make you realize what you’re doing to yourself. Your mother, your father, your ever-wise grandmother. Why won’t you ever give them a chance, just open up your mind for once and listen? Newsflash – they really do know what they’re talking about. Years later, your eyes will well up as you wish for this time to be rolled backwards in order to make different choices. Better choices. Trust me on this – though right now, I know you won’t. In later years, you’ll be happy to know that you were one of the ‘lucky ones’ instead of another statistic. I want you to realize how very fortunate you will be to not become a statistic.

Getting pregnant at nineteen years old will not be the end of your world, although you and a few others think so at the time. You will have a little girl who will, in fact, end up being the shining sun of your universe. Do take a little more time and make the memories count… this will be the only child in life that God will entrust in your care. Slow down, savor every minute, every second. Laugh more… a LOT more. Know that your daughter will be successful in life, and will make you and her father extremely proud.

Your daughter’s father. The man you’ve known for a year prior will become your husband just a mere week after you find out you are with child. True, your childhood fairytale dream of getting married and having babies will happen quite backwards. Just like the absence of a real wedding or even a real proposal – you will find many things around this era to be very different than what you dreamed of as a young girl. Do know that you and your husband will have a very loving life together and create many wonderful memories as a family – as well as share hardships. Always remember that life is a constant change of events. In just a few short years, you will actually go to college to learn a new trade in graphic arts, and your employer will fund this tuition. So hold tight and make do with those hardships – it’ll all be worth it.

Oh, if only I could forewarn and perhaps prepare you for the largest and most difficult event in your life so far. Many years down the road, you will find yourself starting completely over from scratch. You will need to learn to live alone, to survive alone, and support yourself – for the very first time in your adult life. You will learn what heartache and heartbreak really is. You must learn this all yourself, as no amount of prep work or advice will guide you through it. If there is one thing I may ask of you for the future, it would be this… remember your own self-worth. Don’t consider your own happiness an extravagance. It’s not.

Your future lies completely in your hands, and in the decisions you make. Learn quickly that your decisions really do impact your future, of who you ultimately become. And guess what? We’re not finished growing yet.

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11 responses

  1. What a beautiful letter to your 16-year-old self, Bonnie. Isn’t is sad to realize that the choices we make when we are so young, ill-advised, self-centered, and reckless by nature become the foundation of the rest of our lives. Yet, God in His mercy understands us and turns our troubles into wisdom and grace. Only God can rescue the perishing… I have to stop before I write the lyrics of hymns. Blessings to you, Bonnie. You are His creation of grace and beauty.

    November 2, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    • Bonnie

      Thank you, Carol Ann. I struggled with this one and came close to not posting it. I know the stupid choices I made as a young kid have been forgiven, but I think sometimes it’s needed to rehash them as a stark reminder of His saving grace and mercy on us all. Blessings to you, my dear friend.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:38 am

      • We all make mistakes and more when we are young and inexperienced. Don’t drag yourself through the past except to glorify Him. Jesus died for us for a reason. We ALL need His unfailing love and His wonderful grace. My youth brought me all the troubles of my life. Did I know it at the time? No. I strutted into my world. Duh. God is good. Enjoy Him. Blessings to you a thousandfold…

        November 3, 2010 at 11:19 am

  2. planejaner

    If there is one thing I may ask of you for the future, it would be this… remember your own self-worth. Don’t consider your own happiness an extravagance. It’s not.

    that, right there, is BEAUTIFUL.

    blessings, and thank you for sharing your self…with us!
    jane

    November 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    • Bonnie

      I appreciate that, Jane. I love getting to know all of you as well – you’re the BEST!! Blessings, dear friend.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:40 am

  3. Helen

    Thanks for sharing this. I could have wrote it myself…18 years old…pregant with my first child….and I never had a “Real” wedding. Years ago I would daydream about this beautiful wedding I would have, but I never did. My bff had 2 weddings, and at the time, I thought it was so unfair! But at the time of her 2nd wedding, I was by far, more Blessed than her. I didn’t know it at the time and I have spent way too much time being “green with envy”. I thought my friends and my sister had the most perfect lives EVER! Now I know it was ME with the perfect life!!! I had no problem getting pregant, unlike my bff who fought for years to have a child. I’m happy to say in the end she had 3 children, but not without pain and heartbreak. I had a wonderful husband {Ed} who has never cheated on me, unlike my sister’s “perfect” husband, who had an affair with a woman who could have been her twin!! I have to say, I thought they had it all. Beautiful house, cars, 2 girls who got anything they wanted and money. Lots of money! They have since worked out their marriage, but for a while my sister’s life was turned upside down. All the money in the world can’t heal a broken heart. At the age of 16 I thought I knew more than my parents, and in my mind, I had my whole life planned out as only a 16 year old could. As I look back…I see that I had no reason to be “green with envy”! I wish I could have told my 16 year old self to stay in school and don’t rush things….but I wouldn’t have listened. When I think about what my friend’s and family have that I don’t have….I think about what I HAVE that they DON’T!! I have 3 wonderful children, and 5 beautiful and wonderful grandkids and a very BLESSED life. My 16 year old self never saw this coming and I’m kinda glad she didn’t. I might have made choices that would have changed my life and at this point…I wouldn’t trade my life for anyones!! So, take that, 16 year old Helen! You didn’t know ANYTHING but it all worked out in the end. Thank God!! 🙂

    November 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    • Bonnie

      Yes Helen, God in his infinite wisdom has a master plan for us all. That’s the reason I chose to write this in the manner I did – because aside from the early substance abuse, I wouldn’t change a thing.

      November 3, 2010 at 7:47 am

  4. This felt so inspirational to read!! It kind of made me think of writing a letter to my 16 year-old self a few years from now on…I wonder how life would be for me then?
    This letter was warm and fuzzy like a glass of warm milk before going to bed.

    November 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    • Bonnie

      So good to hear from you, Sweet Dreamer. This idea’s been around a while, and I think it’s an excellent idea! If you get a chance check out http://www.dearmebooks.com/ (right now I’m on the front page but I’ll get bumped down after today) 🙂 This is a site dedicated to a Simon and Schuster book titled “Dear Me”. The book is composed of dear me letters written by stars and celebrities. Pretty cool!

      November 4, 2010 at 8:43 am

  5. fromrebecca

    This is an amazing letter to yourself, Bonnie. I’m happy you shared it with me! I can understand why you initially may have put this post off, but i’m sure you felt a great relief and learnt a lesson about yourself after completing it. I’m inspired! Thank you for sharing it with your readers. Rebecca.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    • Bonnie

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Rebecca! I absolutely did learn about myself while writing it, and it also brought about a heightened sense of appreciation and gratefulness that I needed to have. Thanks for sharing yours as well – I loved it!

      May 12, 2011 at 7:46 am

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