A Letter to My Teenage Self

Dear Self,

You’re 14. You have zits on your nose, split ends and you wear t-shirts that say things like “Go against the flow” with a little Christian fish swimming on them. You have a boyfriend who drives a white scooter and a group of girlfriends who know how to giggle until late into the night. You eat cookie dough right out of the package and add extra butter to your macaroni and cheese because you don’t care yet what it will do to your thighs.

If I could take you out for coffee (well, maybe ice cream–you won’t start drinking coffee for two more years) there are some things I’d say to you. First of all, it doesn’t matter that you’re not popular. I know you stare longingly at the cool kids table at lunch sometimes. I know you’ve heard a snicker or two when you walk by certain groups in the halls. I know how you stand in front of the mirror and tilt your head from one side to the other hoping the reflection improves.

By not being popular you’re actually learning some pretty important things–how to love all kinds of people, how to have a tender heart for those on the outskirts, how to dream and explore instead of conform and confine. Your creativity is growing, although you can’t see it yet, and you’re not cool enough to want to crush it. Your older self thanks you.

Also, you don’t have to try so hard. I know you want to get it right–the grades, the youth group, the conversations by the locker. And when you don’t, you’re really tough on yourself. You are your own worst critic. Slow down, girl. Take a deep breath of grace. You haven’t quite figured this out yet…you’re human. You are going to mess up a lot. And it’s going to be okay. People want the real you–not the perfect good girl you think you have to be.

You’re going to grow up and it’s going to fly by. You’ll trade your bike for a car. Your t-shirts for TJ Maxx tops. Your diary entries about boys for a real live husband. It will be good and hard and beautiful and like nothing and everything you imagined.

You have time to get there.

Savor the moments.

Hold on to today.

Don’t wish away the now for the not yet.

Worry less. Laugh more.

Stay up late while you can.

Embrace grace and the Giver of it.

Most of all, dare to be He who made you.

You’re going to turn out just fine.



p.s. Those crazy clothes you’re wearing? Keep them because they are coming back in style in twenty years and people will call them vintage and pay lots of money for them. Yes, even the stirrup pants. It’s so wrong but it’s true.


Maybe you should write a letter to your teenage self too! If you do, link up with Emily today or maybe jump over there and read some other letters. It will make you laugh and probably cry and then check out her new book graceful, which released last week. It is a wonderful gift to young girls everywhere and something my teenage self wishes she could have read.


  1. says

    Oh this took me back to my teen-age life in so many ways. I wish I could tell my 15 year old self to take a breath of grace.
    And the stirrup pants line at the end – ha! Love it!

  2. says

    Holley, you are so adorable! I’m so glad God made you, and I would have loved to had a locker next to yours. My locker would have had posters of Garfield and Scott Baio taped to the inside. How about yours??

    Oh … and we could have totally sung Duran Duran into hairbrush microphones. :)

  3. Debbie Nance says

    I had that t-shirt!!! I bought it in the Focus on the Family bookstore on their campus in Pomona, California! I thought I was so cool!

    One thing I wish I had known was that those “snicker or two when you walk by certain groups in the halls” may have had nothing to do with me. They were just laughing. But of course I thought the whole world revolved around me. :)

    I later found out that some of those cool kids were as scared to death as I was. I also found out that a few even envied my friends and the fun we were having in theater and music performance. They were too scared to try out.

    There are some real “mean girls/ boys” out there but mostly it is just teens with hormones and pressure trying to get through it. If we just knew that when we were going through it.

    Oh those stirrup pants – I wore mine with big earrings and oversize sweaters. Oh my…..

    Thanks for the laugh!

  4. Sheila says

    Amazing how even at my age (52) reading this letter took me right back to my insecurities and anxieties. What a blessing you are, Holley, for helping us turn to God for our worth and value. I still need reminders to this day that I am covered by Grace. Thank you for sharing yourself (even your teenage self) with us.

  5. says

    Wow! Teach us, Oh Yahweh, to number our days,that we might obtain Wisdom.
    The wisdom in this, today…. I wish EVERY teen~ager today could read this and
    comprehend it, the way that “old” folks are able to, for the most part.
    Thank you, Holley. Life is soooo good and so very precious. Every life. And
    life seems so terribly short (really? It’s been 42 years since that 7th grade home
    room class?) All those memories.
    And I wish I could let the Believing Teens today understand that in 40 years or
    less, their classmates will be calling them, for Answers to Life’s big challenges.

  6. Diane says

    Although I’m a bit older than you, this is (was) totally me! The insecurity, the wishing, the dreaming, the dreading. I “embraced” it all! Things do turn out, and hindsight truly is 20/20. If I’d only known then what I know now. The vintage clothing – yes, and I have paid money to get back what I once owned! It wasn’t mine – but a duplicate someone else was getting rid of. The stirrup pants – I remember when I was seven and they were called stretch pants. I owned two pair – pink and turquoise. Imagine my surprise when they came back! Thank you for the confirmation that we all “suffered” in some way, and that all the teasing for the things we wouldn’t do or say made us better in the end. God bless!

  7. says

    And teenage Holley, you might end up wearing those old clothes and singing to a Michael Jackson song in a video…but I don’t want to ruin that surprise! (Sorry…I couldn’t resist!!! Ha!)

    Beautiful letter! : )

  8. Mae says

    I remember those times.. So true your words! It’s true today how
    we view ourselves … we may need improvement in some areas,
    tend to believe our flaws show, maybe so. However,
    As Christian Women to see ourselves the way God does
    puts a new glow on our face, our heart bears his love;
    We are changed. Reality is life has challenges even as we face each new phase!
    I so enjoy your posts.. Look for them every day to strengthen
    my walk with the Lord. Thank you Holly!

  9. katherine says

    i have a whole stack of pictures that could have enlightened your readers a little more on how incredibly cool we used to be! :)
    i had that “don’t worry God loves you” shirt that i wore ALL the time. i had my mom buy me two of them! that tshirt and your hand me down express jean shorts…awesome!
    love you , friend. loved you back then, and love you even more now.

  10. Lydia Grace Hart says

    As a 14 year old girl who ‘goes against the flow’, thank you so much. You’ve encouraged me more than you can imagine. Seriously. God Bless, -Lydia

  11. Betty says

    It was so much fun and even a chuckle reading your Teen age Self along woth all the respnses
    below . Thank You Dear Holley . Hugs Betty

  12. says

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  13. Kim says

    Read this to my 14 & 17 year old girls. Cried as I read it realizing one is going through this and the other is almost out of High School. I forgot what it was like for awhile. Thank you for the reminder and for your insight. Your seem to always know the right things to say at the times I need to hear. Thank you, you are such a blessing!

  14. Jennifer C says

    Cried big tears, so much that my nose ran… then you made me laugh with the stirrup pants! You know the messy laugh after a good cry? It ain’t pretty LOL! Thank you for sharing your letter :)

  15. says

    This was beautiful! I can relate to alot of what you said. As the mother of four daughters taking part in this really made me do some serious introspection and the trip down memory lane will really serve to help me connect with them more. Thank you for sharing!

  16. says

    I wrote a letter to myself that was published in a collection called the Legacy Letters…It was one of the hardest things I have ever written…and yet, beautiful and lovely all at the same time. There’s a place here, to share your legacy letter with the rest of the world…www.fromherpen.com

  17. firefly-ellen says

    I’m 65 as of mid august 2012, and I do remember those not so pleasing high school days. They should have been a joy. Insecure, selfish, no God teachings perse` but I do remember going to Sunday school in my paten leather shoes with buckle around the ankle…and sure enough adult women can wear that type now. ..enjoyed the read. I would have plenty to tell myself about what and what not to do.

    Thanks for the insight Hlloey, into you & into myself.

  18. says

    I’ve had such a great time reading these letters. This one is just beautiful, Holley. Genuine and funny… oh how I wish we could really talk to our teenage selves! I’d give mine a big hug and tell her to look for Jesus.

  19. Evelyn says

    Umm, Holley~
    I STILL have that exact T-shirt you described (although it is too small & I’m hoping to fit back into it one day) and the matching cap (which is NOT too small ’cause I don’t have big hair anymore —LOL).
    I was not a teenager when I bought these, but I was working with the youth group at church at the time.
    Loved this blog—I can relate so well to it!
    God bless you!

  20. says

    Your website is excellent. I seriously enjoyed reading that. I love trend and also style clothing on the internet. I am going to book mark and come returning to discover something totally new.

  21. aida says

    Love it! I shared this letter to my 15-year old daughter whom you exactly described here =). Really, you’re one of my favourite bloggers.. keep the blogs coming. God bless you!

  22. Iwona says

    Dear Holley, I loved your letter. It is a second time I’ve read it and it made me cry a lot. I don’t even no why or maybe I do deep down. My teenage self at the age of 14 had no idea that there was God who loved her and she just fell in love with a boy who didn’t really care and she had no idea what was ahead of her. She had to wait many years and her hear broke many times and even move to another country and then in her 30ties she found the Lord or really it was He that found her and things got better slowly. But your letter made me smile too. Almost as if it was written for me. Thank you Holley, I love your letters and they always have something in them just for me. Blessings… Iwona


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