letters to my teenage self

Whitney over at I Wore Yoga Pants To Work recently made a fabulous post, Letters To My Teenage Self, that I absolutely loved. I have a strong -- well, I'll just say it -- obsession with my teenage years for a variety of reasons. I was very in touch with my emotions (and, boy, did I have a lot of them) and it was a memorable time for me as I obviously began dating the boy who would become my husband. Whitney's post really got me thinking and I just had to steal the idea. (Fun fact: Whitney and I met "in person" after meeting through the blog scene back when we were in our late teens! I was a freshman in college and Whitney was in high school. We drank a lot of coffee back then. No, "coffee" isn't code word for anything else -- we really drank an obscene amount of coffee back then. It's a wonder we ever slept at all.)

Letters To My Teenage Self

Dear Teenage Lindsay,

Surprise! You're a mother! You know how you're too squeamish to put your own earrings in and how at 16 it still takes three nurses to hold you down for a throat culture? Guess what? You gave birth. Someone shoved a gigantic needle in your back and then sliced you open to yank your baby out...and you lived to talk about it. You know all those times you wrote poetry about the pain in living? Surprise! You learned what real pain was. And that it's worth it, as love usually is.

Oh, Teenage Lindsay, you'll never play an instrument. You'll try but you're just tonedeaf. Accept it and move on. It doesn't mean you'll never date a boy in a band. You'll only date boys in bands. You don't need to buy a bass guitar and pretend you can play it. You end up with a bass player anyway. It's true. (Also, please, lay off the plaid a little. Maybe?)

I'll just lay it out there, Teenage Self: please listen to your mother. She's not lying to you. She's not trying to make you look uncool -- you do a good enough job at that yourself. Mother really does know best. Like that time she forbid you to dye your hair until you moved out -- and what did you do, Teenage Self? You dyed your hair jet black and cut crooked "side bangs." Point proven. Enough said. You spent four years trying to regulate your hair again.

You know how when you're really tired from staying up half the night reading blogs and song lyrics? You know how the times you're fighting your half-exhaustion, half-teenage apathy and your baby sister is desperately trying to claw her way into your room to ask you to play Lizzie McGuire karaoke and you won't because you're trying to perfect your three-inch thick eyeliner? Put the liner down. Play with her. One day she'll be a teenager and you won't be able to even beg her to let you take her to the mall. Worse is one day she'll be a teenager and making the same mistakes with her nephew, your son, and you won't be able to do anything about it.

Speaking of boys in bands and bass players, you know that boy with the argyle socks pulled up to his knees? The cute one who plays bass in that band and walked by you on the first day of school? You know how you fell for him hard in that very moment and cried your eyes out with the truly terrifying fear of the potential of unrequited love? It was worth it. Love isn't always easy. Sometimes it's downright hard. You felt so truly devastated contemplating the fact he might not like you back because you loved him on a level deeper than you understood at the time. Spoiler alert: he loved you, too, all along. You'll be inseparable through high school, even moreso during college, you'll have a beautiful wedding day and you'll welcome the most amazing baby boy together. And those mix CD's you made filled with sad songs? The ones you cried your eyes out listening to because you missed him so badly that it hurt until school the next day? You'll keep those and it'll be one of the greatest things you ever did. You can listen to them now in the car together, laughing over nostalgia and watching your toddler dance to them from the backseat.

Teenage Lindsay, never forget the terror you experience when you see the first carton of organic milk in the 'fridge. You'll think it's poison. You'll think it's nonsense. You'll endlessly taunt your mother about being ridiculous and downright cruel for not allowing processed foods in the house. You'll say the words "healthy" and "organic" like they taste sour and you're unsure of the proper pronunciation. (You won't be able to forget this, anyway. Your mother won't let you.) Spoiler alert: you grow up to be an organic buying, health-food freak who forbids artificial sugars in the home. Your kid will be the one eating homemade kale chips as a midday snack. Kale. It's a vegetable. You'll figure it out, give yourself a decade. Joke is on you, kid.

Teenage Self, you won't grow up to be a famous writer. I know. It hurt me, too, when I realized I peaked at 17, never publishing another book again. You won't look at it that way, though. One day you'll want to shout from the rooftops that you published a book at 17 and, man, that's something to be proud of. You'll write a blog. Sometimes you'll receive a comment or an e-mail from someone on the opposite side of the country who knows how you feel and thanks you for sharing your words. That alone is worth it. It's better than being famous. It's writing from the heart and when those words, your writings, touch someone else's heart? No better feeling, Teenage Self. None at all.

You know how you don't let your boyfriend see you without make-up or with unkempt hair? You know how you need an hour prep time, minimum, before he's allowed to see you? Give up the charade. Eleven years later, you'll both be sitting on the couch and you'll ask him if your bellybutton area looks especially saggy post-Cesarian. He'll tell you no. You won't believe him. The truth is, he still thinks you're beautiful, regardless of if your postpartum pouch is swallowing your bellybutton. It's funny. Teenage Self, you put so much time into your appearance -- you know, that "dirty, grungy" look (never forget the time you combed toothpaste into your hair to make it look greasy, Teenage Self. Own it!). The truth is, one day you'll be approaching 30 and you'll have had a baby and that darn strange, saggy bellybutton area to show for it. Sometimes you really won't wash your hair for days on end and you have to use all of your energy to even brush your teeth. Your husband (crazy, isn't it, Teenage Self? Told you he always loved you. Don't ever doubt it!) still thinks you're lovely. You don't need to carry a compact or a mirror in your bag for frequent make-up checks. You don't believe everyone is staring at you and you don't care if they are. These days, Teenage Self, you'll feel more confident than you ever have in your life. You'll be a mother and your little boy will look at you with his glistening big blue eyes and he'll smile -- and you'll feel like a princess, even with filthy hair and toddler pee on your jeans.


  1. I had to take a break from the blog world for a few days and I am so happy that this here story was one of the first I read!

    It totally just took me back to my teenage years when I was nothing more than the girl that hung out with all the boys. I always wondered if one of them would ever want to be anything more. Ya know, like actually LIKE me as a girlfriend rather than just a friend!

    I never did have a boyfriend in high school, but boy were the college years good to me! I was able to date quite a bit until I found my forever love.

    Thanks for sharing! I think I may have to steal this idea, and write to my teenage self as well!

    1. I missed you around the blog front!

      Finding your forever love = totally worth it, whenever it happens! Then you get sweet little Gage. Win/win and way, way cooler than one of those other guys liking you as a girlfriend! Haha.

      I hope you do steal it! I would love to read!

  2. Replies
    1. Awww, Miss Patti! I wish there was another generation of the Holding Hands Family eager to start another great Co-Op. I feel sad Ethan won't experience all the love and awesomeness that we got to!

  3. that was wonderful Lindsay! i loved every bit of it

    1. Thank you! It's more fun to visit your teenage years when you're a decade plus away from them, I think. Haha.

  4. oh how I LOOOOOVE this post!!!!!!!!

    And I had a room in that very shade of pink as a teenager as well. I still think fondly of that awesome room with record covers of bands I probably never listened to hanging all over the walls. haahaha...

    SO much of this reminds me of me, and so much of it reminds me of my fifteen year old sister now. Especially the way she scoffs at all things "organic and healthy." I find myself getting super annoyed by her and how quickly you've reminded me that yes, I was once that very same teenager...so maybe I need to cut her some slack once in awhile.

    Thanks for this sweet post :)


    1. We were such similar teenagers! I remember thinking you were one of the coolest people I ever met -- you even worked at PacSun! That was cooler than anything in the else, my teenage dream job! Haha.

      Oh, man, that shade of PINK! My room was in the very back of the house with virtually no light, so it was always like such a dungeon in there! Might have well painted the walls black!

      It's hard! I know I'll still get aggravated with my sister. It's funny how at 16, they know EVERYTHING, isn't it? And everything they know is always the opposite from, you know, how life really is! I'm trying to bite my tongue and remember that one day she'll learn her lesson on her own my annoyance. It's hard! My mom just made her homemade fettucine alfredo and she remarked she didn't want that, just the "good stuff" (from the box). ARGH! Teenagers. Ha!

    2. ahahahahaha....ohhhhhh my goodnessssss......you just made me LOL so hard that I was cool and I even had cool points because I worked at PacSun!!!! That's so sweet :) I never knew.

      And I know, my mom is constantly telling us, "you guys have quickly forgotten how YOU all were as teenagers." Poor Rebekah and Daniel get away with nothing and don't stand a chance on anything with all of their older siblings and sibling-in-laws. hahahaha...it's really funny sometimes and sometimes I think, "man that sucks. poor kids can't say anything without getting pounced on." hahahaha

    3. Have you seen that PacSun lately?! It's gross and sad and they never have anything cool anymore. SO SAD! The times are changing! Hahahaha.

      YES! Exactly that! We're always pouncing on my sister, too, for everything she says! It's just SO HARD not to, hahaha.

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  5. This is awesome! I had some plaid problems myself back in the day. And Shirley Manson from garbage was my eyeliner icon..... ;)

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