16 Things I'd Like to Tell my 16-year-old Self

In this photo:  Adriana Ortiz ,  Julia Garcia  &  Me

In this photo: Adriana Ortiz, Julia Garcia & Me

Let's face it: 16-year-old girls are A-holes.  Here are a few things I'd like to tell my 16-year-old A-hole self. Though she probably won't listen because, well, she's got it ALL figured out. Duh.

1. SMILE.  So you didn't listen to your orthodontist & you never wore your retainer when you were supposed to and now you get a round two with these silvery fashionistas... It's no excuse to try with all your might not to smile.  Especially in pictures.  It makes you look smug and it's not doing you any favors.  You actually have a lot to smile about.  Like the fact that your parents care enough about your mug to keep it straight.  Now go turn on your Nelly album (cause I know you have that shiz on repeat) and lemme see your grill.

2.  JOIN A CLUB. You secretly want to join the debate team and you know it.  You're not too cool, you definitely have the time and you'd be really good at it. I know you think you're really busy but you're really  not.

3.  PUT THE EYELINER DOWN.  You have stopped wearing 3 pounds of CoverGirl's shimmering sands on your eyelids and I'm proud of you.  But you know that blacker than black itself eye pencil you can't leave the house without?  Yeah, you can and you should.

4. TAKE MORE PICTURES.  You do okay on this one but you could do better considering you have a job that requires you to be there for 6 hours out of the week.  A fancy wind-up camera should be in your cliche COACH monogram bag at all times.  Don't forget to hold down for flash either.

5. GET A REAL JOB.  I'm not saying you have to slave your youth away, believe me, there is lots of time for that in your future.  I'm just suggesting you get a job that you care about.  You want to work at the book store right now.  I know this because I am you.  Instead, you decide that you don't spend enough time with your friends as it is and now want to work with them.  Let me tell you what you learn from your very important position as one of the twenty-two hostesses on duty at Texas Roadhouse: 1. They're cinnamon butter is addicting &  2. When they suggest you buy slip resistant shoes, it is not because they want to make you look ugly.  Take care of your tootsies.  Boys aren't interested in what is on your feet right now, only what's in your pants.  High five on keeping those zipped too.  

6. GO TO DANCES.  I know you think that dances (with the exception of prom) are for nerds but I've got news for you.  You are a nerd.  A big one.  And your dancing seals that deal so go shake your bon-bon with the student government crowd.  You secretly want to be in that too.  So volunteer some time and help decorate the gym with cheap blue streamers.  You'll meet some great people.

7. LOVE YOUR SIBLINGS.  Who in God's name trusted you with a $300 pair of sunglasses?  Your extremely giving sister, that's who.  Hand those back to her and tell her that if she really wants to buy you something to go ahead and purchase you a large box of thank you cards.  Then fill them all out and send them to her year round. You should still be sending them right now.  That's how lucky you are to have someone like her.  

While you are filling out those thank you cards, write your older brother a letter.  He is in the Air Force and far from home and would love to hear from you.  Tell him how much you miss him and how proud you are to be his sister.  He is the strongest man you know next to your father but hearing from his little sister while he's away is the kind of soft a soldier needs.  What is a piece of paper to you is a piece of home to him.

And stop yelling at your little brother so much!  Yes, he is wild but he has the sweetest soul out there. It's not his fault that mom and dad make you take him everywhere.  Your his big sister, it's part of the job.  And when you bend over and he makes a fart noise, just laugh.  You know you want to.  That shit is hilarious.

8. TURN YOUR STEREO DOWN.  Good Lawd girl!  California can hear what you're bumpin' in that car!  I know it makes you feel cute now, but let me tell you about something that's not cute: Having the hearing of an 75-year-old at 25.  Eminem sounds just as angry at a level 7 as he does at level 17.  Trust me, you'll get the message.

9. STAY HOME ONCE IN AWHILE.  It's the weekend and it is the most important thing in your life, I know.  That doesn't mean that every single one has to be spent holding back your girlfriend's hair or vice versa.  Not only is it not your best look but it is building up an alcohol tolerance that is currently costing me a pretty penny.  Stay home and go to dinner with your parents.  Not only do they pay (which is something you'll be so thankful for later) but they are amazing and funny people.  The time spent with them is the time that really matters.  Take advantage of their free time.  It won't always be around.

10. YOU ARE NOT A GANGSTER.  I know you love your gold hoops, you still do!  You still love deep bass & rap music too.  These two things can stay forever.  What you need to lose is the brown lip liner.  That's not your look.  Also, trying to be involved in drug deals does not make you a bad bitch.  It makes you a dumb bitch.  And why are you at parties where the 'it's time to go home' signal is a gunshot?  You grew up on a farm with a good foundation, strong morals and knowledge of guns and the right way to use them.  So, what in the hell are you doing? Why you had to stick around to see the ugliest side of this weapon is something you will never completely understand or forget. You lose a great friend at one of those parties.  So get away from them as soon as possible.  And do your best to get everyone you care about to do the same. 

11. BE A BETTER PROM DATE. Dancing with your friends at prom is important but so is dancing with your date.  And all of your dates really want to dance with you so quit being a primadonna & go slow dance to some K-Ci & JoJo.  It's okay to look vulnerable in public. It's called having a heart and, believe it or not, you actually have a big one.

12. EAT ALL THE PIZZA YOU WANT.  Stop ordering salads without dressing when you are starving.  Dudes like it when a girl can eat.  It's called being comfortable in your skin and it is a genuine confidence. Good people gravitate towards it and you've got it locked away.  Let it out, eat a doughnut and take advantage of that metabolism!  Go put on that bikini you think your too fat for and wear it...EVERYWHERE.

13. DON'T LET THE PRESSURE WIN.  Why are you in such a hurry to grow up?  Let me tell you, it's not all it's cracked up to be.  It's okay if you don't feel ready to have sex, it doesn't make you a prude.  It makes you ahead of your time! I could just kiss you for staying true to this promise you made yourself.  I'm proud that you got your diploma but even more proud of the V-card that was in the other hand when it was handed to you.   Seriously, this is the smartest thing you could have done.  You were right, you weren't ready.  But one day you are going to be and you won't regret it.

14. ALL FRIENDS AREN'T FOREVER.  I know you hate me right now for saying this because I know just how much your friends mean to you.  They mean EVERYTHING. And that's the problem.  Don't worry, some of your friends are forever.  One day one of them is even going to make you a God Mother to her beautiful baby girl, Ella.  What an honor!  And you get to keep the girls in the picture up there too.   You are going to have some of the best times of your life with those two!  Your bond runs deep with them and you are all stuck with each other, whether you like it or not!

But right now a lot of your friendships are unhealthy.  They are out of balance.  You are pouring yourself into helping them solve their problems when you have problems of your own.  And for some reason you have convinced yourself that your feelings and issues with life are irrelevant because they aren't as dramatic or tragic.  This is the most unfair thing you can do to yourself!  It is going to take you quite a few years to realize your self worth so let me help you out.  YOU MATTER.  You matter so much!  Stop comparing yourself to others!  Allow yourself to be lost and to be selfish and to cry and to laugh too loudly and to feel pretty and to do the right thing and to be considered uncool.  There is a heart of gold behind that wall you have built up and the sooner you take it down, the sooner you can begin to build a life it deserves.

15. LISTEN TO MR. TAYLOR.  He is your creative writing and English teacher.  One day he is going to read a story in front of his classroom and it's going to be yours.  He is going to cry when he reads it and then everyone will clap for you.  You are going to hunch over and feel as big as a mouse and want to disappear.  Don't do this.  Sit up straight, smile and say thank you.  You are allowed to be proud in deserved moments like this.  Afterwards, he will ask for a moment of your time.  He is going to ask if you write like this at home.  You are going to tell him that you have kept journals since you were little and that writing is just something that has always made sense.  He is going to tell you that it's not 'just something', that it should be your everything.  He's going to make you promise that you won't stop.  Make this promise and keep it!  Believe in yourself!  Run with it!  It is the missing puzzle piece to the masterpiece that is your happiness.

16. ABOUT MOM & DAD.  If you choose to listen to one thing I have told you in this list, make it this one.  Right now I want you to go find mom and dad.  When you do, run to them.  Throw your arms around their necks and tell them how much you love them.  Apologize for being such a hormonal asshole and let them know it will end soon.  Make sure they know how grateful you are for them and all that they do for you.  These people put their own happiness on hold to ensure yours!  Let them know you are aware that you are selfish and preoccupied with things that you think are more important right now.  Tell them that nothing is more important to you than them. Thank your mother for being the greatest example of strength that you will ever witness in a woman.  And thank your father for not only always being there for you, but also being a father to your friends when the position was empty.

These two are grounding you for a reason.  That reason is to help you see that word in a new light.  Later in life you will want to keep both feet on the ground when challenged, to remain down to earth when others are in the clouds and to eventually leave this world with a grounded and thankful soul.


Now go enjoy not having to worry about bills or stress.  Hold onto to great moments with your girlfriends, try kissing a few more boys and start loving yourself as much as you do everyone else.  I'll see you soon and will do my best to make it in a much better place.

Charlotte Crow

I'm a modern day farmer's daughter who shares and seeks inspiration from the comical & beautiful things that get caught in life's curious little web.