Discussion: What Would You Tell Your 16-Year Old Self?

By the Editors

Dear Me features letters from celebrities (incl Emma Thompson, Elton John) to their 16 year old selves.

Humorist Richard Almour opined that hindsight is 20/20 and he wasn’t kidding.

So often we look back at our younger selves and wonder – what was all the stress about?

How many times have you caught yourself asking: If only I had known that I would make it through X, Y and Z? … Or that I wasn’t actually overweight – heck, I’d love to be that size again … Or he/she wasn’t worth the time and heartache – I’m worth more … Or that was one of the funnest times of my life, I wish I had appreciated it more at the time.

The coulda’, woulda’, shoulda’ game can be destructive, but in the spirit of the great Irish blessing (“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, The foresight to know where you are going, And the insight to know when you have gone too far”), we ask a simple question for this week’s discussion: if you could tell your 16-year old self ONE thing – what would it be?

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  1. Kara says

    Dear 16-year old me. Respect yourself! Don’t settle for less than what makes you truly happy.

  2. Beth says


  3. Melissa says

    Don’t settle for the guys who fall for you. You are better than them and have enough people in your life to do without these losers. Use the 5 years of disasterous relationships I save you from and spend this time on yourself and being with all those who have been by your side for years. You will be happy with everything else, so relax!

  4. Jill says

    Dear 16 year old me: don’t get that spiral perm. Also? Really pay attention to all the stories that your parents and grandparents tell you. They won’t be around much longer, and once they’re gone, their fascinating life stories (and your memories) will be all you have left.

  5. Lesley Miller says

    Dear 16 Year Old Self:

    Stop tattling on your brother– you’re too old for that. The white poofy dress you’ll buy from prom? Ick. Eat a big, healthy breakfast everyday. Stop buying Cheez-its from the vending machine. Slather your face in sunscreen. Write for fun, not for the grade. Stay silly. Venture outside your tight friendship circle a little more often. And, don’t worry- you don’t have to wear heels to be sexy.

  6. Jamie says

    If you do something your family disapproves of, your life will NOT come to a screeching halt. In fact, it would probably do you a world of good. (But don’t worry, you’ll figure this out eventually… when you’re thirty.)

  7. Carmen says

    Dear 16 year old self: You are fine the way you are. In fact, you are more than fine, you are GREAT. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, and don’t waste time on people who want you to be someone else. And take a risk now and then, ok? Failure isn’t the worse thing in the world.

    Also, don’t have that party! Mom is right, she does know everything!

  8. Mary Beth Barber says

    I grew up in a multi-cultural neighborhood and at 16 thought that racism was a myth and only based on money. Then I travelled out of my hometown bubble to the midwest and saw racism that I had never encountered before. So I’d tell my 16-year old Debate Team captain opinionated self that 1. sometimes you can be wrong and need to step into unfamiliar territory to see what’s real, and 2. consider yourself lucky to have grown up in a near-color-blind world as a child.

  9. Alana says

    Don’t dye your hair with $1.99 hair color. Your hair will smell like mildew for a week.

  10. Amy says

    Calm down a little bit, be less intense.

  11. Ashley Robinson says

    Dear 16-year-old me, Yes, you aren’t normal. You are extraordinary! You don’t fall for the boys at your school because they are in fact lame and you will blossom in college and all your dreams of being accepted as who you are will come to fruition. Just get out of town and continue being yourself: ambitious and passionate. And somewhere along the way, you will find true love. Just wait.

  12. Sharon says

    Dear 16 yr old me,
    You should never listen to other people or family members who say it’s ‘too expensive everywhere else…so you might as well stay in Sacramento’…you could have just moved to SoCal like you wanted to…you would have probably had a little place with lots of roommates…but the Universe always finds a way to provide for those who follow their passion.
    Your 34 yr old self…who still lives in Sac…but longs so much for the SoCal weather & the OCEAN OCEAN OCEAN!!!!

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