Childhood, Humor, Life

Dear 17-Year-Old-Self

I know you are looking to the side because the guy at Photorama told you to.
Look out the window, wistfully.
I bet you did not know what the word wistful even meant back then because “C in English” that semester because “senior year boyfriend”.
I am writing this letter to you today because there are some things we need to talk about.
I am helping plan our upcoming 30-year reunion in 2018 with some amazing friends.
Some of those friends you aren’t even close to right now but let me tell you, in 20 years you are going to discover this thing called “Facebook” and it will blow your mind.

I know the reunion is still quite a few years away but we are already preparing and going through the yearbooks, contacting old classmates, and seeing my picture staring back at me, well it got me thinking.
What would I tell that girl with the feathered hair and the perfect skin….. oh the perfect skin….. sigh?

Dear 17-Year-Old Self-

I see the lack of confidence in your eyes.
Do you know that over the next 28 years, you have become one of the most confident people I know?
You end up getting up on a stage in front of 500 people and say the word shit.

Listen to Your Mother Chicago
photo courtesy of Brandi Lee


Dear 17-Year-Old Self-

I see you are content to never leave your small town. But you will, and when you do, you are sad.
You will cry as you cross the Ohio border, but you will eventually fall in love with your new home.

Lexington Ohio Memorial Day Parade

But please do this for me: travel before you get married, or at least before the children come along.
Because then a paper version of you will do it and you will end up getting very, very jealous.
Long story.

Dear 17-Year-Old Self-

I see you think you will never amount to anything important. You will. You will do things you never thought you could ever do. You will become a writer! You write a blog! I know you do not know what that even is. It is an awful sounding name for an online diary.


Blog header

And you end up writing for a major website too! What is a website, you ask? Remember the paper you wrote about computers in sixth grade on which you received an F? Let’s just say you totally understand what those are now. It is exciting, frustrating, but it is your passion. You have found what you wanted to be when you grew up. It took you many years to figure that out.


Dear 17-Year-Old Self-

I see you think your grades define you, but they won’t. You won’t go to college right after high school, instead, you will decide to work full time for many years. You will eventually register for your first college course at 24. It will take you many years to finish because life will get in the way. You will get married, will work full time, have a beautiful baby girl, get divorced (it’s okay, trust me), move back home with your mom and dad (thank you eternally mom and dad!), become a single mom and figure out a way to go to college full time with grant money and work at the college tutoring students (yes, you!). You will end up graduating college at age 36 with highest honors.


College graduation 2007

By the way, you will have tears in your eyes as you cross the stage to get your diploma, wishing your teachers from high school could have seen you at this moment. I can’t wait for you to get to this point in your life. This is the thing: life doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to have the perfect plan to fulfill your idea of success. Everyone has a different path.

Dear 17-Year-Old Self-

I know you are afraid you are going to lose touch with your friends. You will with some, but those who matter will stick around for the long run. And now? We have so many more amazing friends!


Good friends

I wish I could share all of their pictures here, but you will meet all of them, eventually. You will go through some heartbreak along the way, but trust me, it is worth the wait. And see those two down below? Do you remember them from high school? Let’s just say they will end up saving your soul one cold February day.

in the kitchen with some amazing friends


Dear 17-Year-Old Self- 

Brace yourself: mom and dad aren’t always going to live close. Like, they live FAR FAR AWAY. I know you can’t imagine a world without seeing your mom and dad every single day, talking to them, confiding in them.
Sadly, you don’t get to see them as often as you want to, but you are still close. Your relationship with them is stronger than you ever thought possible, and your children adore them.

Chattanooga Tennessee with mom and dad



Milwaukee with my mom

Dear 17-Year-Old Self-

I see you are falling in love with a boy and you want it to last forever. It won’t. But wait until you see who you end up with. He cares for you in a way that you can’t imagine.

Mike and I at Independence Grove

You’ll have lots of trials, but you will stay together because life isn’t about how you look in those jeans or what kind of makeup you wear. It’s about everyday life. It’s about doing the dishes, staying up with sick kids, and paying the bills. It’s making sure you do things that show you care for each other. It’s about having each other’s back. It is giving and taking.

Lake Erie 2015

And you have children. I KNOW, PLURAL. Girls.

sisters at soccer game

They are so smart, amazing, and loving. Who run to you when they come home. Who draw you pictures that look like this:


love note from my six year old

Who sends you texts that look like this:

text from my 15 year old

So hurry and get here. Because life is hard, messy, amazing, beautiful, rough, fun, terrifying, but most of all it is all completely worth it.

I can’t wait to see you at the 30th reunion!
I will be the one in the glasses and the short hair.
Who knew?


Homecoming 1987 Homecoming 2014
17-year-old me at my Homecoming and my oldest daughter at her’s last year


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