Letter To My Teenage Self

A couple of months ago, the Girl Scouts had a Zoom call with Michelle Obama. One of the things she was asked about was any advice or life lessons she could offer the girls. She had many great pieces of advice, but the one that stuck with me the most was not making a mountain out of a molehill, don’t take things too seriously. Something that can feel like the end of the world can fade rather quickly in time, because we are resilient. Those weren’t her exact words, but that advice stuck with me for a long time after the Zoom discussion ended. I wish someone had told ME that as a kid, because that is something I would have appreciated knowing! 

Being the wise sage that I am now, I thought it would be interesting to write a letter to my younger self.

Dear Pre/Teenage Dawn,

Buckle up, girl. It’s going to be a wild ride.  

Just around the corner, you’re going to be bullied. Extensively. You’re going to keep it to yourself for months and survive it. The way it resolves and the support you will ultimately receive will surprise and amaze you. But the sadness and loneliness of that experience will never leave you. And that’s okay, because you will learn from it and you will not allow the same to happen to your kids. 

You will struggle at school. While you have great grades now, the systemic testing will advance you too quickly. And for years, every subject will be a challenge. Don’t give up.  All the hard work you put in will pay dividends, because it will teach you to persist. 

Don’t give up on sports. All those years of hitting a tennis ball against a board and throwing a rubber ball against a brick wall will make you strong and athletic. When you were a skinny little kid, you were the last pick for a team. You will become the first pick.

Take every opportunity to work for income. Not all your jobs will be glamorous, but you will learn skills at every single one of them. You will become self-sufficient and self-reliant.

When college comes, don’t worry so much about “declaring a major”. Most people wind up in jobs that have nothing to do with what they think they will be at age 17. Your brain will still be developing, and your thoughts and dreams will change from one year to the next.  University classes will be difficult at the beginning, but you will adapt.  Not only will you catch up, everything will start to make sense and click into place. The girl who struggled so mightily with Algebra will ace Calculus as a young woman, thinking it was “easy”. That doesn’t happen by accident, it happens with grit and determination.

Then will come the relationships. Not only romantic relationships, but also friends and family. You will be too trusting and dependent. You will experience the worst kind of betrayal. Just know that when those things happen, it is only that moment in time. It is normal to feel sad, but don’t hold the sadness too long. While those moments will be excruciating, they will be brief in the grand scheme of things, and you must keep the long view. Don’t be afraid to ask for support, both personal and professional. Everything you go through is so you will learn the lessons. You are going to take that pain, turn it on its head, and come out of it with strength and resilience. The mistakes you make are necessary and informative and will make you strong and wise. 

Baseball is relatable to you, so remember no matter what the final score is of that day’s game, you get up the next day with a new game to play, a new chance to win. Even if you lost 14-2 the day before (and that happens to the Cubs ALL THE TIME, as you well know) you must just forget all about that and push on. In life, you need to have a short memory when the times are rough. But also bask in the days that are good and jump up and down with your friends and loved ones when you walk it off in the bottom of the eleventh.

One final piece of advice is always be your authentic, honest, and genuine self. Put everything into all you do, and as long as you do your best, everything will sort itself out.

“To thine own self be true.” – William Shakespeare 

By Dawn D


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