Hey, Teen Me! I’m Grateful for You. Teen Week 2012

By Melanie Klein

Dear Sweet 16,
It’s me, the 39-year-old you with a little advice, lots of love, and tons of gratitude.

I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but I’m writing to let you know that I’m thinking about you. In fact, I think of you often and you need to know it. I think you’re a remarkable, crafty and capable young woman and I’m grateful to you for giving me this life; a beautiful son, a deep love and appreciation of art and nature, a rewarding career, and some kick-ass friends. Yeah, really. That’s what’s going on now and you’re the one to thank. You don’t give yourself enough credit, grrl. You’re fierce.


I wish I could remind you of these admirable traits more often, especially in those nagging moments of doubt and uncertainty that seem to be becoming more frequent. I’d love to regularly celebrate your accomplishments and triumphs with you. So I’m here now, offering you support and words of encouragement because I know you need it. I know you feel inadequate far too often. You think you’re not cool enough, pretty enough or smart enough. I know that you feel alone, especially since your greatest champion, Opa, passed away earlier this year. I know it sucks that you lost him so early. But be glad you had such a rich relationship with your grandfather while you did. His gifts to you last a lifetime. His memory never leaves you.

It’s Not You
But the guy you’re with now, the guy you’ve been dating for almost two years is another story. He’s a problem. He’s a huge reason your self-esteem has tanked. May I remind you of your joyful spirit? Your sense of wonder? He’s made you feel inadequate and you’ve lost yourself along the way.


I know you blame yourself for his abusive behavior. Too often he makes you feel crazy and erratic- he causes you to question your worth. You think you’re the reason he changed. You keep waiting for him to come around- to treat you the way he did when you met. He was so kind, attentive and loving. Maybe he’d change if you changed—if you were better.


I know it may be hard to believe now, but it’s not your fault and there’s nothing about you that needs to be fixed (and you certainly shouldn’t be wasting your time trying to fix him). You’re smart, you’re talented and capable. Really, it’s not you. Besides, I’ve seen him recently and, honey, it ain’t pretty. If you keep waiting on him to change, you’ll be waiting forever and your life will pass you by. He’s well over 40 now and not much different than you know him now.


And why do you have a boyfriend anyway? You’re much too young for a serious (and seriously dysfunctional) relationship. I know it seems like anyone who is anyone is dating, but don’t cave into the pressure. There’s plenty of time for dating. Your relationship status isn’t a sign of your worth. Yeah, I know- he’s hot, he surfs, he plays guitar. Well, even those charms fade, believe me. You’ll meet other guys, better ones. Don’t let him treat you badly. It isn’t you.


You’re resourceful. You’re a survivor. It’s because of you that I’ve been able to accomplish all that I have. In fact, whenever you run into old friends, the friends you’re hanging out with now, they’re amazed, absolutely amazed, at how you turned out. You truly defied the odds and I am eternally grateful for your fierce commitment to improve your life.

Don’t Waste Time
You deserve better. No high school sophomore should have a bruise on her face in her yearbook picture. Once you come to recognize, believe in, and appreciate your own worth, you’ll lose interest him and demand better. I promise. Don’t waste your time seeking external validation from anyone, especially him. When you do that, you’re vulnerable and at the mercy of his fickle moods and desires. He is not the most important relationship in your life. He does not determine your value.

Love Yourself Fiercely and Unconditionally
You determine your own value. Nurture yourself, respect yourself, and cultivate self-love.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Don’t second-guess yourself.

Don’t judge yourself.

Don’t self-sabotage your own success.

Don’t make yourself small.

Use your voice.

Focus on your art, your poetry and what’s in the truth of your heart. You’re not going to do everything perfectly, nor should you expect to. You do end up making mistakes both small and large (along with some epic ones). It’s OK. It all works out. Don’t beat yourself up. Make amends and move on. Yes, people get hurt along the way, including you. It’s all part of the process. Learn your lessons and don’t repeat your mistakes (not too many times anyway).


Be open to the nice guys. You know, the ones that like you the way you are. The guys who treat you well, laugh at your jokes, share in conversations and don’t tell you that nobody else will ever love you. Nice guys aren’t boring--I swear, and they’re not full of it. When you believe you’re valuable, you’ll believe others. Like I said, work on that self-love thing before you dive into anything with anyone else. In fact, ditch the boyfriend you’re with now. Don’t wait another six years. Trust me on this one.


One day, you’ll thank me in the same way I thank you for all you’ve given me. I’m proud of you and I love you completely.

 

This post is part of Teen Week 2012: Words that Heal.

 

About this blogger: Melanie Klein is an Associate Faculty member at Santa Monica College, teaching Sociology and Women’s Studies. She attributes feminism and yoga as the two primary influences in her work. She is committed to communal collaboration, raising consciousness, media literacy, facilitating the healing of distorted body images and promoting healthy body relationships. She has worked with the new citizen journalists of the LA Academy of Global Girl Media and the peer-educators of J.A.D.E (Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating) on ways to tap into the power of their own voice. She is the adviser of the Santa Monica College Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and founder and co-coordinator of WAM! LA.Her work may also be found at Feminist FataleAdios Barbie, Elephant Journal, Ms. Magazine's blog and WIMN's Voices. She is featured in the forthcoming book, Conversations with Modern Yogis and the documentary, The American Housewife.

cmysko's picture

Comments

Salina G's picture

This blog hit home and I'm sure that our story is different, but we share one common thing and that is the change. As I began to read, I thought of my high school graduation, the years after, and the passing of my grandmother, who was my primary caretaker. I have made many mistakes and have ultimately sacrificed to become the woman and mother I am today. I will continue to take pride in who I am. Thank you for the reminder of how quickly time comes and goes.
JenniferH.'s picture

This post took me back in time in my mind to when I was in high school, as well. Although, I graduated from high school just four years ago, I have many memories. One of my memories is that I was in an unhealthy relationship throughout high school. I finally ended this relationship when I started attending college and ever since I have focused a lot on my own needs. My self-esteem is greater now than it was while in high school and I credit my life circumstances and strength for this. High school was a time when I was extremely vulnerable due to family violence occurring at home. Finally, when I began college, I decided to leave my home in order to seek a violence- free lifestyle. I began working to support myself and giving back to my community through volunteering at domestic violence agencies. Now, I am employed at a shelter for victims- survivors of abuse. I have come quite far from when I was in high school, even if not too long ago. So by reading your post, I am feeling hopeful to see what awaits me in life as the years go by- I am sure that more successes are to come!
BYRON's picture

This selection resonates so well with me because as a teen, I always felt displaced even if I made it seem that the world was my oyster. I would turn to drugs of all types, pop pills, drink hard liquor, self medicate to high extremes, & as the caveat, I would see the relationships around me crumble, people die of overdoses, see bright individuals turn into walking shadows of their former selves. I put up with a lot of shit from other people & would continue to beat myself up over it, the fact that I was the opposite of adored by many. The fact that I was tortured by my own self image & sexual identity, I didn't love myself as much as I loved everyone else & continue working on that to this day. In all reality, I had several people who loved me, I just didn't realize it, because I was so absorbed in trying to make the ones I wanted, the ones to build up my life & pride. I wear my heart on my sleeve, & it's easy to say that people took advantage of that heart that I've lead my life by, & as much as that was a pain in the ass, I continued to love relentlessly with my entirety. In retrospect, the past me, I do adore for being afraid but still fearless enough to fight for love & significance. To realize that I, almost all the time degrade who that person was, has failed to realize that who that person was inevitably lead me to the person that I am now. As awkward, lost, confused, & out of hand I'd been in those times, I have grown to acknowledge that the experiences unique to those points of time in my life were fleeting, remarkable circumstances, unique to me & only me, & anyone subject to such loss, abuse, joy, triumph, & addiction would have probably not made it out the way I did. Thank you for this delightful post.
lhurtado73's picture

After five years I can know look back at when i was that sixteen year old girl ready to take on the world like the rest of us. Of course that did not happen, but it might. I can now look back and say I did everything I wanted to do when I was sixteen. It helped me achieve the goals I have achieved with my life, and continue to do. If I would have read this article at sixteen I would of definitely followed the advice. At sixteen I wanted to be involved in that perfect loving relationship, but truth is most guys at sixteen do not so they are jerks most of the time. Girls at sixteen should wait that man wholeheartedly will come along just wait. It has not happened to me yet but I know it will, but if it does not it will not break me. I wished I would of loved, trusted, and had faith in myself at sixteen. Now at twenty-two I still struggle to do, but constantly remind myself that I am only human and I must love myself to survive in patriarchy.
jessica_jay1's picture

Unfortunately I was once in that type of horrible relationship it never got to physical abuse however I am proud to say I found my way and learned to value myself. I have many friends who are controlled, emotionally abused and take it. Not only do they not do anything about their issue but they feel it is normal and it is just something we have to put up with. Maybe there needs to be a type of program for young girls and boys educating them on healthy relationships if they choose to be in them although it is a young age. Parents need to get involved in their teenagers relationships as far as giving advice and sharing healthy experiences. Jessica N
Angelica E's picture

Reading this makes me look back to my teen age years. Back when I felt I was never good enough. I was always way too hard on myself I always tried to be something that I was not, just because i wanted to fit it. Unfortunately trying too hard brought me bad consequences. Luckily I changed my ways and now I have learned to accept myself and I am proud of whom I am. Knowing that young girls are in abusive relationships is very sad. It's sad because they have so much ahead of them. So many teenage girls try to live their lives at such a fast pace, as if they are eager to grow up. When they can enjoy their teenagers before they face the real world. Once you start getting older you wish you could just rewind and go back to those teenage years that for some reason were made so hard. They seemed so hard because things that were not so important, all of a sudden were made important. I have a completely different mind frame now, but I wish my high school years would have been a lot different. I think this is the same for most girls when they look back at the types of things they would get them self's into in high school all just to fit in. I wish teenage girls would realize how good life could be during high school if they only cared and paid attention to what truly mattered, because once you’re out of high school there is no going back although I have no desire in ever going back.
deltraw's picture

Thanks for your comment Angelica. Our teenage years can be an emotional roller-coaster and we are not comfortable in our own skin. I'm glad as you got older you grew into your own skin and became the person you was born to be.
deltraw's picture

Thanks for your comment Jessica. I'm glad that you found your self-worth and self-respect and got out of that relationship. Yes, I do agree that there needs to be more of an awareness of abuse in relationships in our community.
MarenW's picture

I like the idea of writing a note to your prior self. I often think if I could just go back, I would do so many things differently. I, too, was crafty, imaginative and artsy. I wish I would have pursued these talents. I also was in too deep of a relationship at a young age, although at the time I thought I was old enough. You know he is a jealous guy when he doesn't even want you to go to your college class without him. For all the crap that we do and put ourselves through, we learn so much and if I wouldn't have gone through all the self-doubt, I wouldn't be who I am today. :)
yuli516's picture

I think there should be more articles for teen's regarding relationship's because a lot of teens go through a abusive relationship either verbally or physically. I think as a parent you should talk to your teen's that it is not ok to treat someone else bad or let them treat you bad. Many women blame themselves when they are in abusive relationships because they have bad self esteem, and they don't leave the relationship in fear of being alone. As a woman you need to learn to love yourself and not depend on a man for happiness.
jessica.serrano's picture

After reading this, I look back at my high school years and wonder why I spent so much time on the one guy who never treated me how I deserved to be treated or why I bothered being friends with people who liked to hurt my feelings or tease me because they thought it was funny. But looking back at it all now I realize that without those struggles that I faced during high school I would not be who I am today. I would not be the young woman who is not afraid to say how she feels because so many times in the past she kept quiet about her hurt feelings. I would not be the young woman who knows her self worth and what she deserves from a boyfriend. I would not be the young woman who is not scared to be who she really is because she is afraid of being made fun of. I finally see that it is okay to be who I am, funny, outgoing, hyper, and at times, child like, because that is the person I have been wanting to let out for so unbelievably long. Without my high school years and the relationship I stayed in for 5 years I would not have realized all these things and become the woman that I love today. I love who I was because she is the reason I love myself today.
richard e.'s picture

I'm still in my teenage years, and I always wonder if I'm headed down the right direction, and what the future holds for me. It would be so comforting to get a letter like this, to know that everything will be ok, to know that I will be truly happy somewhere down the line. Everything is just so uncertain right now. I can't wait for the time to come that I can be truly confident in myself and the outcome of my life.
Melissa M.'s picture

I really like this post I wish I could go back and talk to my former self about choices I made in my life. I definitely agree with you that in our teenage years when we feel pressure from society to be their vision of beautiful, we also become more vulnerable to insults from our “partners” and now my older self realizes that guys at time try to keep girls down because of their own insecurities that the girl they are with is better than them and deserves better, they insult her to keep her insecure and at their will so that she can not realize this for herself. I remember being in a relationship at that age and going to extremes to be accepted and felt desired by the guy I was seeing, I would put up with so much so that he could “love” me. I know now that it wasn’t real love and in the end as you said once I was able to notice my own self worth I was able to love myself and realize that I wanted and deserved someone better. Someone who would enjoy me for me and encourage not discourage me in life. Someone who wanted to succeed with me and not hold me back from my accomplishments because they did not want to better themselves and therefore did not want me too either.
Destiny O's picture

I loved this post! It made me really reflect on what I was going through when I was 16, and oh how I wish I knew then what I know now! I know when I was 16 I was too hard on myself. I felt that everything that was happening then was going to be my life forever. No matter who gives you advice, like your mom for example, you don't want to take any of it because you feel like no one realizes what you’re going through. Everything felt so permanent in my teen years. Your friendships felt permanent, your boyfriends, your heart aches and your enemies all felt so permanent. I never thought that I wouldn't talk to half of those people anymore. The boy who I thought ruled my world in high school, well I haven’t even talked to him or seen him since I was 18! I couldn't be happier about that. If I was able to reach out and talk to my teen self I would tell her that life is going to smooth out soon, you'll get rid of the gossiping "friends", you and your mom will get close again, you'll stop crying your eyes out at the mention of "his" name, you'll be reunited with your brothers & sisters, you'll move back to the beach, you'll fight the odds and do a great job in school and make your family proud, and you'll work really hard at becoming a strong, independent woman. I'd be sure to let her know that through that process does come some bumps in the road but it will all work out. I'd like to let my teen self know that she's overcome a lot and that she didn't let her father's troubles take her down and that at the age of 21 she’s already accomplished some dream goals!
reality.hitsharder's picture

I love the way you wrote to yourself addressing all the things you wish you would have heard at the time. There's so many things that we learn as we grow older that we wish we would have known at that time, when it was important. I was also in an abusive relationship and although it was more recent in my background than yours I still learned the same lesson and wish I could now tell myself back then things I should have heard. As we get older things like this get somewhat easier but are never easy to make decisions about. If I could talk to the 16 year old self, I would tell myself to make sure he wears a condem because although you are going to get pregnant with the most amazing little girl, you are 16 and life is going to be rough. Now I am 22 and she is 5 and it is still incredibly hard but I love her more than anything.
gloriatrigueros's picture

This is definite self-esteem intervention. Many times I have doubted myself in relationships because I’m not sure of my self worth. This blog has definitely reminded me of the positive outlook in life and also the possibilities that are out there for me. I can do better, and be better. Many of my friends are stuck in a rut just like many of us can get. With no resolution or way out, sharing this blog with my friends will definitely give us something to talk about and also something to drink for, which is….”US” or say womanhood. As a teenager we are blinded by many circumstances in life, competition among other teenagers, peer pressure, fashion, drugs, and friends. Very rarely do we know the person we are inside, longing for a better and brighter future. All we long in our teenage years is to be loved, but we always end up falling in love with the wrong type of men who don’t reciprocate. This should be read by all the teenagers out there struggling with love and self-esteem. I’m in my 30’s and it helped me a great deal, which means it’s never too late to learn your self-worth.
anabanda27's picture

I thought this was the most inspiring post and comment made so far. I really like how you wrote this comment to yourself. This is truly an inspiration. This took me back to when I was 16 years old. I was in my first relationship and lost my virginity and I was terrified. I was not in an abusive relationship but I felt pressured to have sex with my boyfriend everytime I went to go visit him. He always ended up forcing me to do it. Luckily I had had enough and got out of the relationship. It was very difficult. I wish I would have had more people in my life to be able to talk to. I could not even talk to my mom about this. I really wish I was more confident and less scared. I am glad I was able to leave my boyfriend and graduate high school. I think I would have fulfilled many people's expectations. I feel that I would have gotten pregnant at 16. LOVED this comment!
CynthiaM's picture

This is such an amazing post! I’m on my last months of being a teenager, but I feel that I’ve grown up so much since I’ve left high school. Coming into college has helped me realize what is truly important in life and has been helping me figure myself out. In high school, I too felt that the issues I faced would be eternal and sometimes even focused on them too much. I am so thankful that I’ve had a close relationship with my mom, which allowed me to not only keep a clear mind many times, but to have someone to confide in, to run to when it felt that my world was crashing down. It is important to know that life goes on and things will be okay as long as we put our own happiness and ourselves first. I stopped putting people ahead of me; I stopped trying to feel wanted by people who didn’t matter. I’m beginning to focus on me and what I feel will help me to reach my potential. I’m so proud of where I am and I cannot wait to continue my life journey and to accomplish my ultimate goals.
Michael C.'s picture

This is very influential for young girls and should be taken into account for sure. My mother was abused and it only got worse as time went on. Not only did it get worse for her, once she had children, my brother and I were the ones abused. It took my mother many years and a serious injury to one of her children for her to finally leave him. It took a lot of strength to do it and she was terrified of being alone with 2 boys but she managed it well. So girls if this is going on make sure to stop it before something severe happens to you or you put your children in danger. Good post
FabiolaP's picture

I absolutely enjoyed this blog. It reminded me of a letter that I once wrote to myself and sealed it until I was in college. The way that life works... it's true that you only learn by making mistakes and though time. I really enjoyed/agreed with three of the "points" given to your younger self. "Don't judge yourself" "Don't be so hard on yourself" and "Use your voice." If I could visit myself at 14 years old, or at 17 years old, I would tell myseld the same thing. Nothing that I went through is part of my life now. At my church it's always said that when you are going through rough moments, you are going THROUGH them, and you will eventually be out of that situation.I guess the only thing we can do, since we can't go back and give advise to our younger selves, is give advise to our present selves so that we wont dwell on the small stuff.
Jessica E.'s picture

I really enjoyed reading this blog post. There are so many things that I know now that I wish I would have known years ago. But, alas, it is those very dreadful experiences that allow us to learn from our mistakes and makes for a better and stronger you. All of the obstacles you overcome serves as a blueprint to the path you must travel to reach true love. Although, bad relationships and experiences help us learn from our mistakes advice like this letter can really open you your eyes and help you see clearly the mistakes you are making now and how you can fix them before they cause more damage to your self esteem and well-being. Although, I think Klein wrote this letter to her younger self for her own retrospective benefit I think her bigger goal was to reach out and speak to those 16-year-olds that may have fallen into the same circumstances and if this blog can help just one girl be more confident in herself and leave her unhealthy relationship then this blog post will have served its purpose.
Adrienne Springs's picture

I wish I had known all of this when I was 16 years old. Being a teenager is so hard because you’re trying so hard to grow up but usually going about it in the wrong ways. Dressing skimpy because you think it makes you look older and dating older guys or drinking alcohol don’t make you into an adult. But it’s the only way we seem to know at that age. It’s hard because you want to be an adult so bad and be independent, and yet you’re still stuck living at home with your parents and going to high school. Your body is changing quickly and it feels like people are pressuring you to do so many different things all the time. Being a teen is hard, and at that age it feels like the difficulty will never end. But it does. You grow up and look back and realize how beautiful you were at that age (even if you never felt that way back then) and learn to appreciate your life. If only there was some way to show yourself this, back when you were having such a hard time. This is why this note to your old self is so amazing. And maybe one day you’ll be able to teach this to your future daughters when they too are going through their difficult teen years.
CandaceRen's picture

I really enjoyed reading this blog. I believe that girls at the age of 16 believe that they are a lot of things that was described, not being smart enough, pretty enough, or even cool enough, though they are not. Loneliness, and maybe being in a relationship that they believe is worth their time and effort, but really isn’t. Those are thoughts that girls in high school everyday unfortunately come up and deal with on a regular basis. Many girls and women deal with this and I really enjoyed the way this was written in a letter form to one’s past to encourage them and let them know that they will survive and continue life, a very fortunate and happy life. A lot of girls that age feel that the specific time is their whole life, and they won’t be able to move on from that, whatever it may be, prom or that cute guy from the football team. This blog sends a positive message for girls or anyone to believe in oneself and to love oneself for who they are and eventually they will find happiness not only within themselves but with other people as well. I am able to relate to this blog on a personal level, as I’m sure other women are able to as well. I hope that others are able to see this as well and feel as connected as I have. – C.R.
Tina402's picture

I love how you are able to appreciate your teenage you! I have come to hate who I was then, but you gave me the gift of being able to start seeing who I was helped me become who I am and to start to love that part of me too! This would be a great assignment to have students do as part of understanding who they are and where they come from and good for teens to read so they know its ok to be less than perfect so the can love who they are and protect themselves from friends (and boy friends) who are abusive and destructive to our self-image and sense of self-worth. Tina
Melody A's picture

This was honestly one of my favorite posts. I really hope one day when I’m older I can love and appreciate my teenage self so much. Not that I don’t now, but looking back has never mustered up so much appreciation, in fact when I look back its sad to say I mostly remember the negatives. The negative comments, decisions and friends. This post has helped me look at my “teen” years in a different way. Even though I still am considered a teen, I feel very disconnected from my 16 year old self. Sometimes when I look at pictures, I ask myself, “who was this girl?” I now realize she is the person that helped me get to where I am today, and without her knowledge and experiences I would not be the same person, and for that I am truly grateful.
DeniseF's picture

I really enjoyed reading this post and how you thanked your sixteen year old for shaping you into who you are today. I loved the fact that nowhere in the post did you have any regrets about anything; they were mistakes that you learned from that made you and shaped you into who you are now. When I was sixteen I wish I could say all these wonderful things to myself and appreciate who I was, even now when I look back I dislike looking at pictures of myself and even remembering how I was, because I start pointing out and remembering all the negative issues that I was going thru as a teenager. As I read this letter to your sixteen year old I started to look back at my sixteen year old and try to find something positive that I liked being that age, but I could not. Because I hated that my self-esteem was really low, I hated how I looked, how I dress, that I wore glasses and braces, and that because of my self-esteem I really never talked to boys and distant myself from them. I was jealous that all my friends had boyfriends, and I felt like the ugly duckling that nobody wanted. I wish that one day I could remember being sixteen and embrace all the qualities and potentials I had when I was that age, but for now I need to finish working on myself and embracing and acknowledging everything that I have to offer for myself and the world and that one day I can look back at my teen as be grateful.
lucero m's picture

this blog inspired me to self reflect. I think that is the highest opinion a writer can have on a reader. Klein has inspired to self reflect and appreciate myself in a brand new way -Hey teen me! Well I KNOW your life isn't easy. I know you have low self esteem and you're not very confident. I know that you have good grades and even better friends; but you always feel somehow lonely. I know you're lovesick over some idiot boy- but please don't me. This is you, at age 21. That boy that you "love" so much is a total loser, seriously. He lost whatever littler charm he had. Trust me, I see him often. Now, you are a confident individual who is self assured; and you're engaged. You're actually engaged and you got engaged at age 20. He's cute too:D ---16 year old me, don't be so hard on yourself, and open up to others. I know you're guarded but im telling you not to be. I know that sometimes you ask why things are so hard, and why things don't work out for you, but hell that hasn't changed either. What has changed is you, you have changed. You have morphed into someone new, the someone whom you've always wanted to be. Thanks for hanging in there, always.
adrbarajas's picture

Analila B. I truly enjoyed reading the letter you wrote to your teenage self. It is great that you had the change to reflect on your life style when you were sixteen. It is great that you were able to get out of that relationship and focus on receiving a higher education. I wish one day I am able to do that myself and remember everything that I went through. I love the fact that even after all you been through you do not demonstrate any regret in your life. You see everything positively and see a lesson to be learn from those experiences. It is important for teenagers to learn that everything will be ok and that one day they will look back and realize it. Several girls go through a lot in their teenage years because they are trying to figure out who they are and sometimes they do things that they should not suppose to be doing. However, that is just part of being a teenager and finds ourselves.
Kayla Ainsworth's picture

I really enjoyed this post, it made me look back at my teenage years and how I would beat myself up over the little things. Even when having an older boyfriend that had a car and was able to pick me up seem so good but was all so wrong. He cheated on me with one of my good friends and they both kept it secretive from me. Sad to say I still had kept in touched with him and let all the good ones go, I thought I was deeply in love that’s why. But since I look back, I really wouldn’t change anything about those years I gave up to be that women that never repeated mistakes and look pass just a handsome face with a nice car and rather have a conversation with a great person with great conversation. Teens should read this post and look at their inner self and realize life is what you make it, so they shouldn’t be worried about boyfriends are popularity just enjoy the time of being young and having fun.
Maira Pacheco's picture

I think the post i just read was really good. I was able to relate to it. It made me look back at when I was a teenager and it made me think of my actions. I use to just want to be accepted by my peers, I really did not care of what I looked like but I would care so I can be accepted. I was always worried of what I looked like and how I would dress. I wanted to where the latest fashion trends. I wanted to hang out with the popular kids so I could be known and so I can be accepted. The last thing I wanted was to be seen like a nerd. Back then I notice that if you were not dressed a certain way you were viewed as a nerd. The last thing I wanted was to be viewed as a nerd. Since I was always worried of the way I looked like I did not graduate on time. I graduated a semester late. I also realized that looks were not important and they did not take me anywhere. Today I realize how dumb I was and how much of a close mind I had. I changed the way that I thought and I now accept myself. I also run in to my pretty friends and I notice that they don't have a career and the nerds back then have a career. I decided to change my life around and pursue a career.
Candice G.'s picture

This made me cry. So well written. There is so much that I would want to thank my sixteen year old self for. The person I have become couldn't have been possible without the strength of the young me. This whole problem with family and the media and what a girl has to live up to can really harm us at sixteen and its scary to think that some girls stay with those bad low life boyfriends who treat them like dirt. They don't have the strength to get out and it makes me want to help them. That is why I chose the career path that I have and why I want to dedicate myself to helping girls and also boys come out of bad situations and show them that their is hope and light at the end of the tunnel. All these kids need is the self-love and the strength to know that everything will be okay. And sometime the only think they need to start the process is to know that someone is behind them pushing them to be a stronger person.
angelica oseguera's picture

Let's open our eyes and be realistic about things! Every individual has a lot important qualities that others may not have it is a matter of being able to love yourself deeply. Accepting yourself and be your own personal motivation, if you don't love yourself then who will. Maybe what we really enjoy is people being able to point out all the great qualities. We shouldn't feel the need that we need from other people to be a happy person instead be able to express to the inner body daily by self motivation.
KaitlinV's picture

I am so glad you were able to open your eyes and escape that relationship! This was so beautiful and well written. As a teenager we struggle to maintain holds on anything that we perceive as keeping us safe and happy, even if it doesn't. We are so able to become jaded and keep a blind eye to even if it's wrong because we want so badly to fit in. I am so sorry you were in an abusive relationship so young. I experienced a very verbally relationship in my late teens and it hurt in ways I could not explain. We must all learn to be strong and accept ourselves so we can be better people in the end.
RavenG's picture

I loved this! So many teens, including myself have struggled with escaping societal pressures. I felt so alone in my teen years, i feel alone still. Something I am constantly working on! I appreciated this post, because i wish someone would have to me those things growing up. However at the same time i valued my "strength" and didnt believe in asking for help. Then again.. To my 16 year old self: I wouldn't tell you a damn thing! I am the way I am for a reason. My "dramatic" life as a teen has structured me into the women i am today. So to my 16 year old self, Thank you.
edlc21's picture

It truly enjoyed reading this. It brought back memories of my high school years. I sure can relate to the high school boyfriend, the low self-esteem, and being so hard on myself. It is interesting how I always find myself reflecting on my past experiences and comparing them to how it has changed me to the person I am now. I always thought I was the only person who has gone through this in high school. Nowadays, I find myself more grounded, grown up, with more knowledge and understanding; if I only knew about this in high school things may have been better. But on the other hand, making small and/or big mistakes in life is just part of life, and it is a learning process. Now, I find myself being committed to making changes of my life; learning, growing, conquering, and simply being remarkable. I wouldn’t change or alter the experiences that I had in the past, because I would not be the person that I am today.
Sonia B.'s picture

I would hate to see any girl go through this kind of torture especially coming from their boyfriend. If a man tries to change you, they are not meant for you and they should start by changing themselves. It is hard to see how a boy can control a girl in every aspect that they do from what they eat to how they dress. I do understand that it is easy for a girl to do what a guy wants because they want to be accepted and they already think low of themselves. Media and a controlling boyfriend is not a good match in this society. I think that girls need mentors to show them what they are capable of doing and they have to find themselves instead of having a boy do it for them.
debora G's picture

I truly enjoyed reading this article, because it has never been done before. I personally have a lot to thank myself but the idea seemed ridiculous until now. I always blame myself for things I’ve done wrong but never thank myself for my accomplishment. In our society it is out of the norm to thank yourself because it might make you seem conceited, but I think it is a great way to reflect on past experiences and allow yourself to forgive and forget moments you might have been proud about. My teenage years were one of my hardest moments because I felt out of place and did not have many girl friends. I felt that I could confide in no one and for that reason I kept to myself. I struggled to find myself and the choices I made weren’t the smartest. I stand her today at the age of 21, one semester away for getting my bachelors degree in psychology. I am the first in my family who will be graduating from a university and I plan to continue my education. My goals in life have changed as I got older I strive to be a better person. I believe everyone makes mistakes but how you handle it is what makes you a better person.
Brianna Davis's picture

I never sat back and thank myself. It is very hard to do so, and i believe that is why its so easy to fault ourselves. We do not appreciate ourselves enough. In high school i was always the tough cookie but, i was very popular.(good popular) But, what i can say is that i have the most highest respect for myself. I did not let any boy ruin my life or make a decision for me. I noticed that there were plenty of girls in high school that were very vulnerable. They did not respect them selves fearing they will be lonely. After awhile they just made themselves a label. You can look at girls and see their low self-esteem even if they try to put on a facade. Girls cover their face with make up, wear skimpy clothes, and do the most to get attention. Those are the ones with low self-esteem. Also there are quiet ones as well but those ones still give up there bodies, or do anything they can to keep their partner. They will bend over backwards and will only end up getting hurt. But, as a h.s girl you do not know until you get hurt. Love yourself first and everything else falls in place.
MohitSharma123's picture

I have to say this is probably one of my favorite blogs posts so far. I even had my girlfriend read it and she smiled at it and said "hell yeah!" Being young is such a fun thing, but as I get older I realize how silly we can all be at 16. Life seems so hard and everything so extreme, as if our worlds would fall apart so simply just from loosing one thing. If only we could talk to our selves at younger ages and say the things you voiced so clearly we could avoid a lot of heart ache. Then again, it is the life experiences we go through that mold us to be who we are today, stronger and smarter. Even at this age I realize there will come a day that I look back at my 20's and think similar things. This post has made me want to sit down and look at my life today, evaluate everything and go forward telling myself the things I need to hear like "you are strong, you are friendly, you are smart and can get that job." These are such simple and maybe even juvenile things, but sometimes I think we get so stressed in life that we need to sit down and tell ourselves the positive things we miss.
tanyaaaism's picture

This blog reminded me to thank myself for all that I have been through in my life. I am always too busy criticizing myself and not giving myself props for accomplishing certain things. I am going to write a thank you letter to myself and read it any time I am feeling down. This blog makes a great job at making us see that we are not forced to be in a relationship, and that it is very hard to change a person. We all have options and some of us are not strong enough to walk out the door and escape the problem. I hope many run into this blog because it will definitely change the way they think about certain decisions they make.
Holly A's picture

I have to say this post was one of the most inspirational posts I have ever read. Not only is your teen story so strong and touching, but your words of encouragement and thanks really touched me. I seldom stop to appreciate myself, thank myself, and tell myself what a great teen I am. I think it is important to appreciate your teen self. As a teen, I often times do feel lost, worthless, needy, etc. I do feel like being in a relationship makes me worth more. I do feel like I am not good enough, cool enough. It is extremely important to just stop one day and be proud of who I am. I go to school, work two jobs, help my family out, take care of my siblings. I am a great person, but living in such a toxic society is damaging. All teens should take a second to think about themselves, and truly feel proud of who they are.
Kati's picture

Holly, It's great that this post helped you take time to appreciate yourself! You rock!! Keep working hard, being a loving big sister and don't forget how awesome you are!
Jon K.'s picture

I find this post to be extremely inspirational. As I was reading it I felt that you were validating yourself even when you didn't seem to realize how great you were when you were younger. It was a letter that reminded yourself and let everyone else see just how valuable you are and don't need an abusive man to dictate your worth. Today I know a lot of women and girls who are struggling with the same issues that you struggled with - low self-esteem, critical and abusive boyfriend, and just unsure of who they are because of the constant barrage of insults and negative images that they are exposed to on a daily basis. This article/letter goes to show that even with all of that happening in the world today, they can still survive and allow themselves to see just how great they are for being themselves. They don't need to look like the models in Cosmopolitan magazine or to cower down to every negative criticism that their partner tells them. I feel that those women I know and any woman going through any of this should read this article because it just goes to show the value they have to themselves, not the rest of the world who deems them imperfect. That's up to them to dictate their self value and image. Perfect the way they are when they take a second look in the mirror.
Anndrea Anderson's picture

I cannot even begin to imagine how you must have felt going through this, or how it feels to be abused. Reading this article made me so grateful that I never had to experience anything like this, yet so empathetic to those who have. I think the power of this article is that you have taken something so tragic and turned it around to become such a fundamental building block and positive learning experience for not only yourself, but for others who have experienced similar situations. I can not sit here and tell you I know how you feel/felt or that I know how much strength you must have had to bring yourself out of that situation, because I don't. But I can sit here in awe of your journey and say that you are not only an inspiration, but an icon and positive representation of what it truly means to be a strong woman.
Berenice V's picture

As I was reading this article I couldn't help but feel grateful that I have never had an abusive relationship. I am currently in a committed relationship with someone who falls into the nice guy category. Not only is he attentive, caring, loving, but what I value the most is that he is supportive and he encourages me in everything I do. Nobody should be in a dysfunctional relationship, where there is emotional or physical abuse, it simply is not healthy. It is frustrating that women feel they need a man in order to be happy, or if they were to leave them no one is ever going to love them. Like any other addiction, the first step is admitting that there is a problem, women should get out of any relationship which is unhealthy in order to prevent any severe consequences. The actual process of leaving the relationship is undoubtedly the hardest step, but it can be done. No one is ever truly alone, this is the time where family and friends need to be supportive and understanding. Every woman who has left an abusive relationship should be proud they made it that far because what they accomplished is leaving a vicious cycle. Like mentioned, these experiences are hard and emotionally burdensome, but in the end they provide a life learning lesson. Personally I have never been in this situation, but I can see why many young teenage girls would remain in an unhealthy relationship. At this point of their life they lack maturity and are the prime targets of social media which make them vulnerable, plus their inexperience so maybe that guy is all they ever know. Women should always keep in mind that they deserve better, rather than conforming to blaming themselves for their partner's bad behavior. Like you mentioned women should stop to try to change for someone, if that other person does not want to change their erratic behavior nor understand the harm they are doing, then simply leave it is not worth it. When a woman demonstrates self-worth it conveys on her attitude and the way she carries herself, as a result she is able to be in control; rather than in submissive relationships. Women need to recognize their value and expect to be treated according to it. No men should determine it.
Soraya L.'s picture

I quite enjoyed reading this post because it took a different approach to encouraging one to love themselves for the quality of their character and traits. The fact that it is addressed to a younger version of oneself was something I thoroughly enjoyed. Personally, I went through my most troubling times in high school because generally, we have the burning desire to want to fit in, to be accepted, and to not be ridiculed. At the same time, we have longing to be ourselves and to be loved for all or quirks that make us who we are. Sometimes we are too critical on ourselves, and we focus on others, but not enough on ourselves. Sometimes we forget that being “selfish” is not all that bad once in a while, and that it is important to take care of oneself and cherish oneself in order to be able to care and love for other people. Fortunately, in my high school career, I had never been in a relationship, let alone an abusive one. No one should ever have to feel like they cannot sum up to anything, like they are not worth anything, or that they are unlovable. Everyone should know that they have the potential of being happy with someone who inspires them, loves them, and cares for them. I have been blessed with getting into a serious relationship with a very sweet guy that not only celebrates my “flaws”, but also encourages me to be happy in my own skin. Though it could be difficult at times to feel “beautiful”, sometimes I just imagine myself the way those who love me see me, and it helps me take a look at the internal and valuable things that make up who I am, rather than seeking any external validations from things that end up deteriorating one’s self esteem anyway. This was beautifully written, and I definitely enjoyed reading it.
Avery G.'s picture

I was on the verge of tears the entire time I read this. It is so important to look back at the eariler more vulnerable years to remind us about where we've been and how we have reached where we are today. If only we always had a letter from our future selves to help guide us or help us get over the difficult times in our teens. Thank you for this as I have reflected on myself for the things I have now that I thought were impossible to achieve when I was a teen.
Jasmine M's picture

I think this entry was terrific. I only leaving my teens behind a couple of years ago, remember being so critical with myself. I felt like I was either making wrong decisions, or I was missing out on all the fun. I had felt like the weigh of the world was on my shoulders and that mistakes that I made could jeopardize my plans in the future. I remember lots of highs and lots of lows, but I always kept a smile on my face. I love this post because looking back in the thing that I went through and where I am now, I am truly grateful for my sixteen-year-old self. I am extremely proud at the way she handled herself in situations that were uncomfortable and I am ecstatic that she didn’t consume herself with influence of her peers. This appreciation four our teenage self, is much needed because many people harbor regret from their teenage years. However I am extremely grateful because had anything been altered, I would not be the woman I am today.
juliannemi's picture

Wow! This post seems as if it was written directly for me! It was not until late April, when I got my acceptance to UCLA and UC Berkeley, that I realized that I do not give myself nearly as much credit as I deserve. In other words, it took me twenty years to realize that I am worthy, that I am good enough. Not only did it take me that long to realize that I do not give myself enough credit, it was also not until then that I started to realize how harshly I treat myself most of the time. While it shouldn’t have been, it was as if I needed those acceptances to those schools to “prove” to myself and everyone else that I was intelligent. Looking back I realize how sad that is. Why is it that I felt as if I needed that approval, that letter to affirm that I am in fact smart? I should not question myself because when everyone else leaves, I am all that I have.
Deepicka Mehta's picture

Several women often complain about not finding true love. Does true love exist out there? The answer is yes. Is it impossible to attain? The answer is no. All it takes is a little push in the right direction - in the direction of self-love. Nothing can be more difficult yet more satisfying than self-love. When one begins to accept oneself as he/she is, taking in all strengths as weaknesses as part of the bigger being, the search for true love becomes much easier. In this post, reflecting back on teen years, wishing you could've taught yourself the ideology of self-love, to save yourself the time wasted on low self-esteem, depression, and worthless guys is highlighted. The concept of self-love in and of itself seems strange, but those that attain it never regret it.

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