A Letter to Our Teenage Selves


A Letter to Our Teenage Selves

May 10, 2023
A hand holds a pen over a blank sheet of paper.

Dear Maggi,

Happy 16th birthday, younger self. You’re doing great, honestly. I know you feel like you’re awkward and frumpy, and that might be a little bit true, but you’re going to learn how to dress yourself in a way that makes you happy in a few years when you get to college and that will do wonders for learning what to do with all that leg and arm. 

You and Mum don’t really talk about “embarrassing” stuff like periods or acne, but you should try because it’s really not all that embarrassing. And I think that if you talk you might learn that the “discomfort” you feel every month with your period is real, genuine pain; you shouldn’t minimize it and you don’t need to live with it either. Get on birth control and it’ll go away! 

Speaking of birth control, talk to mum about your acne. She understands what you’re struggling with because she did too. She’ll happily take you to the doctor to see what they can do to improve your skin. The birth control will help to an extent too, but on some level, you should just strap in because your genetics on both sides are against you and your acne isn’t going to disappear when you turn 21. Or 31. 

Like I said though, on the whole, just keep doing what you’re doing because you’re happy, you have good friends, and the bright future adults are always talking about is right around the corner. 


PS In about 10 years you’re going to get bangs cut in on a whim and it’ll be a great decision. So maybe don’t wait and do that now?

Dear Cat, 

First things first, I want to pre-congratulate you on how full circle your life has come. Right now, your most thought-provoking moments about sex, love, and relationships come from religiously watching Secret Life of the American Teenager each week. In the future, you’re working on the communications team that produced that content and working with shows that current teens watch to make an impact! Go you! Now, just make sure you don’t shy away from the inevitable conversations that are born out of mom and dad lingering through the living room during each episode. 

Speaking of opportunities to learn from our parents, I also need you to stop and listen when mom is giving you backseat lectures on the way to school and cross-country practice. While right now you find it unbearably uncomfortable to be trapped in a conversation about safe sex and smart choices every time you’re alone in the car, you need to realize that your mom is imparting wisdom that will stay with you for years. You’re going to realize that all those car talks are something to cherish – because not every young person has an adult that would ever broach those types of subjects with them. 

Even though it’s not what you want to hear, embrace the fact that the trusted adults in your life are open and willing to talk to you about your reproductive and sexual health. Like many young people to this day, you are not going to get any sort of adequate sex education from your public school. There are going to be a lot of gaps to fill in and a lot of things that you are curious about. By developing a judgement-free zone early, it will be so much easier to have somewhere to turn when you are older, and the situations could be more serious. 

My last request is that as the years go on, you do not feel any shame or sadness over the way your body grows. So many things in your life will go through changes, including your body, and that is not a bad thing. I want you to remind yourself that your body is a vessel that allows you to take walks, eat delicious food, and fall in love. And that, in itself, is beautiful.