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 had no idea what the word wistfully 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?
Guess what?
You end up getting up on a stage in front of 500 people and say the word sh$%.
Right now I can’t even write it and yet, you said it.


Listen to Your Mother Chicago
photo courtesy of Brandi Lee

Dear 17-Year-Old Self……

I see that you are falling in love with a boy and you want it to last forever.
It won’t and that is okay.
But here is a tip:
Order the steak, not the salad.
If you are afraid to eat on a date, you are on the wrong date.
Know that if you can’t make it work, it’s okay.
Go and eat lots and lots of ice cream.
Because you are going to want to skip the rebound.

Dear 17-Year-Old Self……

I see that you are content to never leave your small town.
But you will and when you do, you are very sad.
You will cry as you cross the Ohio border but you will eventually fall in love with your new home.
Very, very slowly.
You will still miss Ohio very much, your family, your friends and your memories will always be tied in with your hometown.
And you won’t ever intend to lose that love, that pride, and that tradition.

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 be doing it and you will end up getting very, very jealous.
Long story.

Dear 17-Year-Old Self…….

I see that 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!
Yes, you!
You write a blog!
I know you have no idea what that even is.
It is an awful sounding name for an online diary.


Blog header

You make little to no money doing it!
But you are doing it!
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 now.
It is exciting, frustrating at times, it doesn’t at all pay the bills, you are quite literally a starving artist 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.
That is okay as many people don’t figure that out in their lifetime.


Dear 17-Year-Old Self…….

I see that you think your grades define you.
They won’t.
You aren’t your grades.
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 age 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.
Your teachers will tell you to be organized and you need to have a plan.
Everyone has a different path.
Follow yours.

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!
Because when you get older?
You have friends who really care about you.
Not what you can do for them.


Good friends

Beautiful inside and out friends.
The kind you can text in the middle of the night.
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.
Just you wait.
Only make sure you aren’t in the bathroom when the doorbell rings.
Long story.

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 really, really close.
Your relationship with them is stronger than you ever thought possible and your children adore them.
Was there any doubt?
And guess what?
They are your best friends now.
Was there any doubt? 


Chattanooga Tennessee with mom and dad

It is pretty amazingly awesome.


Milwaukee with my mom

Dear 17-Year-Old Self…..

I see that 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 ups and downs 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 every day 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.

sisters at soccer game

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


love note from my six year old

Who send you texts that look like this:

text from my 15 year old

So hurry up 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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