An open letter to 16 year-old me

I saw these "Dear 16 year-old me" posts trending in the blogosphere recently and I love the idea of 28 year-old Courtney trying to give16 year-old Courtney advice so much, I had to jump in and do it too.

Dear Courtney,

First of all, nice pit stains. Being 16 was sweaty work, eh? Let me fill you in on a little secret: 28 is just as a sweaty. Luckily you now have a big girl job and can buy fancier deodorant.

Secondly, I love that shirt. I can't remember where we got it, but I loved it on you ... me ... us. Though I'm pretty sure you wore it TOO much with those flared American Eagle jeans with the bleached whisker lines. Dang, WHY DID WE EVER GET RID OF THOSE JEANS?

Oh yeah, because we went to college and got fat. If you and I could have one big do-over, it would be to live in a dorm NOT 3 minutes from a McDonald's and an all-you-can eat ice cream bar.

We graduated high school 10 years ago this summer (dang), but I still remember being 16 years-old so vividly. I remember the awkwardness, questioning everything you said or did, and the feeling that your skin was several sizes too small for your bones. Even on your best days, you walked down the hallways with your eyes fixated on the ground, waiting until you could find solace in any one of the three girls who understood you better than anyone else. And even though you couldn't possibly believe it to be true, everyone felt just as uncomfortable and out of place as you did.

Those two girls in the photo with you? And the other brunette not pictured? Relish your time with them. You won't talk to them much in adulthood. Life takes you crazy places and changes people.

You were sad a lot. You also felt scared and unsettled. You didn't realize it at the time, but that's because you grew up really fast and had a lot of heavy things to process. Everyone goes through their own struggles, especially in high school, but you kept yours hidden from almost everyone. You're better at naming those feelings now, but the sadness is still there at times. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it, but you're much better at shaking it off and getting lost in a fun activity ... or eating (some things never change).

I wish you wouldn't have wasted so much time obsessing over the boy who didn't want you. There wasn't anything wrong with you. He was just an ass.

And what little did you know that less than a year after this picture was taken, you'd meet your person. The day you met him, your life took on brand new meaning. At the age of 17, you fell into the kind of love that some people go their entire lives searching for. You fell for him hard and you fell for him fast and that handsome teenage boy (who is now a sexy, grown-ass man) still makes you go weak in the knees. Please know that God brought Clayton to you early in life because He knew how badly you needed him. You guys have something special, but I think that even at the age of 17, you already knew that. And I really want you to know that he still cherishes you and still tells you that your butt looks fantastic.

Don't beat yourself up too much for quitting volleyball and softball. Sports are still very much a part of your life as an adult. And get this, we run now. Remember how much you hated running laps during volleyball conditioning? Yeah, we do that kind of thing for fun now. We have medals and everything.

Believe it or not, your face actually kind of grows into your nose. Or maybe people just matured and stopped commenting on it; I'm not sure which. But you're pretty okay with how you look as adult. Your chin still looks ridiculously large and pointy in photos, but plastic surgery is expensive and you're afraid of needles, so you just deal.

Oh! And I absolutely have to mention this: You have the COOLEST dog on the planet. Just you wait until you meet Joey. He is so cute, you'll get heart palpitations from just looking at him. Dogs are still very much your thing.

And the Backstreet Boys are going on tour again. Take heart, Nick Carter is aging really well.

Courtney, just take a deep breath. Things do get better. It takes awhile, but I think you'll be pretty happy with how you turned out. You're not a famous actress, but you get by. You'll still have insecurities and you'll still fight the urge to look at the ground when you walk, but you'll eventually start to notice how fabulous you are, too. There are so many things to be happy about now.

I know you'd never be able to say this about yourself in 2002, but you can certainly say it now:

I love you,

P.S. Let the dream go. Your boobs aren't gonna get any bigger. Sorry.


  1. You are hysterical! I absolutely love reading your blog. Seriously though, this letter should be read to ALL high school girls. The teenage insecurities, the great friendships that eventually become acquaintances, the secret truths...and then coming out of it all and being able to analyze it. My favorite "Please know that God brought Clayton to you early in life because He knew how badly you needed him." You rock!


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