Letter to my 16-year-old self…

Not that i would have actually listened, mind you… but a stumble into dearme triggered the thought exercise.  Exactly what would i have told myself at 16 that might possibly have made a difference?  Who knows…  here’s my best guess after a couple glasses of bourbon.

Dear 16-year-old daisyfae,

Christ.  Where do i start?  First off, lose the flannel shirts and owl glasses, ok?  You bear a frightening resemblance to Neil Young.  While you take some solace in this, and it may feed the deeply buried socialist songwriter hiding underneath that case of Oreos you snarfed down in your bedroom last night?  It’s not particularly attractive.


Those glasses. Seriously. What the fuck were you people thinking?

Off the top of my head:

– You are an athlete and a dancer, despite the fact that the mirror tells you otherwise.  Somewhere in your 30’s you’re going to figure this out, but it will be a tad late to start formal training.  Join the fucking swim team.  You are built for it, and are a natural.  Take some dance lessons now.  So much easier than trying to find a “tap dancing” class for 40-somethings…

– Settling for a generic state university is a reasonable safety net, and will work out just fine.  However, those recruiters from MIT, Carnegie Mellon and the US Military Service Academies that come to visit you next year aren’t just being nice to you. Regarding the military academies?  You can do the push ups.  Trust me.   There will come a point in your career where you work with some folks who chased those dreams.  You will kick their ass.  It will annoy you that they’ve got the pedigree…

He’s gay.  He never gets “un-gay”.  In fact, he’s going to wander off, and you’ll lose touch in a few years, despite the promises you’ve made to be best friends forever.  It’s not going to end well for him.  You didn’t make him gay.  He was wired that way from the start.  Stop using his gayness as an excuse as to why you’re inherently unlovable.  There are other reasons for that…

Your sister, T?  She’s kind of a bitch.  The nastiness she throws your way?  Trying to keep the fact that she’s a lesbitarian under cover from the rest of the high school gang.  Once you busted her, she was terrified that you’d tell everyone at school.  You’ve got a long road ahead of you, helping keep her level… on the bright side?  She takes you to Bangkok and you get to see your first Thai drag queens with her…. and you successfully resist the urge to strangle her and throw her in a canal 10,000 miles from home. 

– That whole 18th birthday thing?  Probably the low point.  If you can avoid that roadtrip to northern Indiana?  Do it.  Things get better.  And not much worse… you’ll write about it someday, people will be stunned and wonder how the hell such an alignment of dark bullshit could hit a kid on her 18th… On the bright side?  You weren’t found dead in a landfill a month later…

– You escape the Trailer Park.  Seriously.  You get out of it.  Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t quite leave you.  There will be moments when you are choking down the urge to punch someone in a public place.  You will dance on tables.  The phrase “What are you lookin’ at, shithead?” may be enough to enrage you.  Trailer Park’s got long arms, and you make a promise that will be difficult to keep…  but you will.  i hope.

– Marriage?  Surprise!  You’re going to meet him in about 3 years… and believe it or not, you’ll be pretty damn ready to settle down!  That first year of university?  U-G-L-Y.  After hanging out for a week, you’ll move in and stick around for about 25 years.  He’s a good guy, you’re not really in love, but that’s ok.  He’s the only reason you survive undergrad, make it through grad school and don’t burn out in flames by the time you’re 20. 

– Children?  Get this – you have two, and they’re a riot!  Despite your complete allergy to babies, they survive the first few years, and you discover you actually like them as human beings.  Teaching them how to make “jello shots” may not win you any parenting awards, but bonding is bonding…

There’s a lot more, but it’ll be better as a surprise.  You end up having more fun than you expect.  You eventually learn to smile. Probably sold yourself short too many times, but chasing all those pesky dreams would have been work.  Fucking off.  It’s underrated.  Go with your strengths…


47-year-old daisyfae

bought that guitar (epiphone 12-string) with babysitting money. i was robbed. it was piece of shit.

Ok.  Next round will be a rather acerbic rant directed at 30-something daisyfae.  She was Super-mom, the Wonder-Bitch.  i got a LOT more to say to her….


post inspired by sweary at coddlepot

50 thoughts on “Letter to my 16-year-old self…

  1. Dear 16 year old nursemyra

    Burn that stupid diary you’ve been keeping. Your mother is going to find it very soon and pack you off to boarding school where you will get expelled a year later for sneaking out with that dimwit Margaret Mary who grassed you up for getting drunk in Timaru…..

    Sincerely, your jaded older self

  2. Wow, what would I end up writing to myself at that age or any age after it. I am not sure taht I would be the person that I am today if I hadn’t gone through what I have. I am sure that if I could go back and change myself that I would. I would however save myself from a few too many hangovers that I should never of had. 🙂

  3. I have got to do this! I would probably kick 16-year old me’s ass for being so stupid. This is a challenge My Love. I will soon be writing to a much younger me.

  4. Dear 16 year old Daisyfae, be glad you didn’t go to Carnegie Mellon, you’d still be up to your eyeballs in debt, Case Western as well though at least you’d have been in state then. Fuck Pedigree, it’s over-rated, i know i’ve lost enough money on ponies with pedigree.

    I live within pissing distance of CMU or camus as we yinzers say, it’s calle the university of fruits and vegetables due to the fact everyone is either a science/engineering major or a theatre major.

  5. Got to try this exercise too. At sixteen I’d been an unhappy immigrant for a couple of years. Didn’t start to feel more comfortable til I left school.

  6. Dear 16-year old me,

    JON DOESN’T WANT YOU. GIVE UP. Go for Bill, because he thinks you’re the Real McCoy, remember? Yeah, that conversation you overheard? He was talking about you. Not Meg. Don’t fuck this up. Otherwise he will get married in 2009 and you’ll find out on Facebook and it’ll be like a punch in the head. I know, you guys have been friends since kindergarten. That doesn’t mean it won’t make you die a little inside. Trust me.

    Also, you know all that money you’re saving for Europe? That works out brilliantly. Best plan you’ve ever had.

    (I like this, Daisy. Nice idea.)

  7. i’m sure it will just take a few jello shot lessons and you and 16yr old Daisy will be well bonded. Perhaps even listen to each others advice.
    Universities, gays, escape, marriage and children for the icing….wonderful covered it all didn’t you? The 30’s….I am so looking forward to reading about them especially since I will be reaching the end of mine soon.

  8. Oh man, if only all of us would be able to go back in time to wring our own figurative teenage necks. Loved reading this daisy. Plus the fact that flannel never really goes out of style, and if it weren’t for the glasses, I’d say this pic was completely contemporary.

    Any mom that teaches their kids jello shooters gets a badge.

  9. Dear 40-yr-old Tango,

    What the hell happened? I know more now than you will at 40. Good to see you finally stopped fucking things up, now just enjoy yourself and stop worrying!

    Love 16-year-old Tango.

    (PS: Most excellent post 47-yr-old daisyfae, I loved every word)

  10. gnukid – she’s a poser. complete imposter. and when she starts talking about herself in the third person? trouble ahead… the voices… you know…

    jimmy – they were all the rage in the 70’s. if you could find a pair as big as your head? all the better…. ugh…. got contact lenses a year later. i’d have died a virgin without ’em…

    layla – welcome to The Park, and thank you for commenting…. do you have a blog?

    nursemyra – do you still have the journals? oh, THAT would be an interesting evening sometime… i have mine. they are horrible, and make me want to scream…

    alljoedirt – with a few notable exceptions, i wouldn’t change many of the experiences. as you say, they made us who we are. i might have adjusted the confidence levels, though…

    uncle keith – in the war of uncle keith vs the demons? my money is on uncle keith… looking forward to reading about the asskicking you’re going to deliver to that 16 year old dweeb…

    kono – ‘fruits and vegetables’? LOVE IT! got a close friend who teaches there, and will share that with him. i spent a week at nerd-camp there the summer before my senior year. loved that it was an urban campus, loved the neighborhood… just was afraid i couldn’t afford it… case western was another option, but i simply didn’t think i could get scholarships, so i didn’t apply… oops…

    littlefish – don’t be too rough on her. she turned out ok, you know…

    stephanie – if you get the time machine working, i really just need to go back and adjust the attitude. the postsecret stuff? that’s an interesting thought as well…

    spinachpie – it was sort of fun. i could have put a lot more thought into it, but it just started coming up… suspect if i really gave it some thought, i might not tell her much of anything… she was a doofus!

    rassles – Jon was an eeejit. You at least got the European trip right… i’m still planning mine. Would love to see your version of this…

    hisqueen – oh, i didn’t cover all of it. just some highlights… beyond the traditional teen angst, there was some nastiness in there. while it made me who i am, given the choice? i might have passed up a few of those opportunities… overall? she was a good kid. just a bit self-destructive, that’s all…

    sonny – i may still have that shirt somewhere. 30+ years later. i was very fond of my flannel… worn with ‘elephant leg’ blue jeans and platform shoes? i was the shit…. a fashion plate for the ages…

    tNb – THAT’S an interesting take. What would my 16-year-old self have thought of my 47-year-old self? “Lady, you sold out! Workin’ for THE MAN! You’re a corporate whore… Where’s the band? Where’s the Peace Corps stint?”

  11. Dear 16-year-old self,

    One night soon, you and two friends will try to conjure up spirits of the unknown. Listen to those ghosts closely. Then the three of you, clasp hands, and run for the nearest rainbow…and never look back.

  12. Dear 16 year old Renal Failure

    You have the opportunity of a lifetime in 2010 on a Greek Island with two gorgeous women. Do not take any life threatening risks before then.

  13. You? Are awesome. And I have to take your side over kono on the pedigree thing. I’ve seen too many examples of the leg up it gives people. I’m afraid my letter to my 16 year old self would have to start, “Listen to anything anyone else has to say,” which would make the rest sort of a waste of time.

  14. fragrant liar – ‘run’. generally good advice for anyone under 25, in my opinion!

    crying bull – awww…. didn’t know you were still reading. i think we were 14 or 15 then… a wonderful adventure. scared ourselves silly… oh, and i think J found the rainbow…

    renalfailure – glad you got laid. as for the ‘plan better’? yeah… i wasn’t thinking beyond 22 myself…

    nursemyra – oh, yeah! we need a hot, brilliant cabana boy… renal failure’s got mad ninja skilz, too… could serve as our security detail!

    chris – it’s not so much the certifications, it’s just that i COULD have… and didn’t realize it at the time. ‘could have’ are words that annoy the shit out of me…

    jimmy – done

    namuel – would love to read your version of this little exercise… will likely do some more. a letter from my 47 year old self to my 60 year old self might happen, too…

  15. daisyfae, this was another fantastic post, th best yet in my eyes. very creative! i enjoyed reading about you and i feel i know you a bit better tonight. see ya next time!

  16. My advice to myself at 16 would be …

    Some people bloom late. That would be you. Relax. Breath. Don’t worry. Someday – later than most people – you will have all the things you’ve dreamed about and all the love and understanding you could possibly need. Really.

  17. lynn – thank you. this one was ‘off the top of my head’, and i think you’re right. there’s a little more of me in there than i probably would like to release. my kids sure picked up on that “so what the hell happened on your 18th birthday?” thing….

    lynnster – welcome to The Park! i think you found me through the Tennessee Thinking Brigade — folks who have blown me out of the water with their MAD WRITING SKILZ… i look forward to seeing your version! it was a good thought experiment…

    savannah – thank you. somehow, it was a time-traveling gift to the goober i used to be…

    annie – here’s to blooming late! me too. i am far happier and have experience far, far more joy than i ever expected… life is good.

  18. Reblogged this on Trailer Park Refugee and commented:

    Although i have no fucking idea why, i am often sought as a mentor at work – usually people early in their careers who are sorting out what’s next. i’ve had a run of these sessions lately – and it reminded me of this old post.

    As i’m listening to these young men and women sort out not just career – but life balance – i am reminded that i REALLY need to write that letter to my 30-year-old self…

  19. Lately I have been feeling a need to do something of the same sort… Dear 16 year old Ellie: Don’t listen to your parents. Run away from home and go study piano at the Curtis Institute of Music on that scholarship even if you have to live on the streets. You CAN make a living as a musician. Furthermore, stop looking down on yourself. You are a very smart, hot babe with a lot to offer the world, grab that truth and run with it.

    Of course, if I wrote that to her and followed the advice, would I have had the Arctic Chamber Orchestra adventures in Alaska? Would I have met Pete and built a cabin in the woods and learned to live without electricity and running water? Would I have met and married Jim? I’m pretty sure my life path would have changed radically if I had followed my own advice.

    It is hard to second guess our life paths…

    But I love your talk to your 16 year old self.

    • Not sure i’d change much of my path either. “The obstacle IS the path”. These are the things that brought me where – and more importantly made me who – i am today. learning to like myself, while still wrasslin’ the demons.

      Have you given any thought to picking up the music again? i’m not quitting the day job, but i am back at guitar lessons… 😀

      • Oh yes. I actually do play the piano on occasion, and the incredible lapse in what used to be world class technique frustrates me no end. My piano lives in my bedroom and one of the reasons I am thinking hard about “retiring” from massage is so that I can move my desk into my massage room and use that room for sewing and move the piano back out of the bedroom and into the family room where it has a better space as well as giving us more breathing room in the bedroom.

        The problem with all that is I am not sure I really want to retire from massage; I love the work and I am extremely good at it. In fact, the older I get the better I am and I am having to be very dsciplined about my schedule in order to not be overworked at body work. I still want the garden time too… So maybe I can find a way to arrange my work space so that my desk could go in there too. I think that if I was “semi retired” I would be okay with getting rid of the big permanent table and fitting my portable table into the space when I had work scheduled.

        However, I am realistic enough to know that if I “semi retire” it will not be a retirement at all. After all, right now my goal is to try to do no more than four massages a day, and I may seem like I’m bragging but right now I am booked pretty solid for the entire 2 weeks after I get back from our Alaska sojourn. It’s pretty amazing to be able to look at the appointment book and say to a customer “The first opening I have is August 30…”

        • definitely seems as though you are not ready to retire! you’ll know when… but thinking about balancing the work/play space might lead to something out of the box!

  20. My God if I wrote a letter to my 16 year old self… don’t I really really don’t want to think of all the things I’m going to tell myself I shouldn’t do… but still do

    • It was a bit therapeutic when i wrote this in 2009, and i find myself thinking of more things… but i also have a lot to say to my 30 year old self… you can pick any age, you know! would be curious what you’d tell your younger self.

  21. Wow! And Ouch! Maybe even cringe!
    The shrink in me enjoyed the earlier comments.
    Looking back…I did some silly things ( as most of us do when we’re testing our wings), I missed a long trail of chances, but I’m happy with the “now.”
    And I still want Edith Piaf at my final send-off. Absolutely no regrets. 🙂
    Thanks for posting this.

    • this is my first wordpress ‘re-blog’ and i’m not crazy about the formatting. not sure how to tweak it though… you’re not the only one commenting here!

    • It surprises me that i will actually be far harsher on my 30 year old self. the 16 year old? what did she know? but by 30 i was doing some rotten things and should have known better…

  22. Excellent post DF. I really enjoyed being sixteen. I’d finally got released from school (which I never liked) and spent my days going for long walks along the prom (don’t know how you say that in American–the pedestrianised road adjacent to a beach) in Morecambe, which is a tatty old faded Victorian seaside resort a couple of miles from here. I remember it, in a very good way, as being an empty time, when I could just think about nothing.

    [Also, the comments here have been an excuse to remind myself how gorgeous nursemyra is, which is a lovely photo to start the day with].

    • i think the US equivalent to “prom” is “boardwalk” – even when not made out of actual boards…

      Seems you had a nearly perfect 16th summer. Probably the best way to spend that year – lost in thought, somewhere pleasant.

      i need to track down the delicious nurse – i believe we are overdue for another girls holiday!

  23. Letter to my 16 year old self: “Dear Andrew, what is going on inside girls’ heads is much more like what is going on inside your head than you think… but it’s too late to tell you that now, isn’t it? And that may be for the best, actually.”

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