Oh, Dear 16-Year-Old Me…

Dear Me,

This is a letter from you – but the version of you who lives in the year 2011. I know that you can’t presently imagine that you’ll ever be this old. Ever. But you are. Sorry.

I know what you’re thinking because, well…I’m you. You’re thinking that a letter from future you is slightly too far-fetched to be true. It smacks of Back to the Future, right? Well, the future is nothing like that. John Delorean goes to prison and his cars become worthless. Also, cars don’t fly 24 years from now. That’s a bunch of bullshit. The good news is that you’re not fat and you’re still kind of cute. Please keep exercising so that doesn’t change. I worked hard to stay this size.

I have some sad realities that I’m going to share with you in the hope that you won’t waste our precious time. First, you are done growing. I repeat – there will be no further growth. That includes both height and boobs. You’re done, sister. Give up the dream. You will never resemble Elle MacPherson and you’re hair will always be slightly wavy with a hint of red undertones. Watch out when you start coloring it, that red turns brassy in the sun and no one likes cheap and brassy. Stay brown and classy.

Secondly, you’re about to embark a six-month long stretch of pot smoking and copious booze consumption. I know that no one notices you around the house and you feel a bit like a 16-year-old roommate, but trust me, smoking joints isn’t going to do much for you but give you the munchies, paranoia and bloodshot eyes. Can we just skip that phase and hit the books instead? Otherwise, in a few weeks you’re going to skip school with Shannon and accidentally burn your mattress to smithereens with a curling brush. It’s not a good scene. Fire Trucks and cops and all that. Seriously, you’re just not cut out to be a pothead. Stick to your regular gig because our (future) high school classmates tell me that they thought you were one of the nice girls in “that crowd” –  despite the fact that you kind of despise being identified as part of “that crowd”. Just keep being nice and maybe talk to people a little more. Jodi Davis, Jodi Gilman and Leon Spath are really funny! Also, watch out for Sunny Lee. He likes to light things on fire too. Oh, and by the way, I have no idea what horrible thing we did to Stacy L., but she’ll refuse to speak or make eye contact with you at our 20 year reunion. It must have been something absolutely horrific if she’s still bearing a grudge 20 years later! Sheesh.

Also, you know that boy who’s been flirting with you? Yeah, the one who plays hockey. He’s a total d-bag. Do not under any circumstances become his girlfriend. Trust me. You’ll have the most miserable senior year and, to tell you the truth, he might exhibit some sociopathic tendencies. Find a nice boy in your class, one who is your own age. Could we stop dating older boys for now? Especially that loser who goes to Sienna. The guy who graduated three years ago and lives in Bedford Close. He’s just after one thing. Don’t waste your time. Clearly, he’s not getting any at college if he’s trying to hit it with a 16-year-old. That’s just gross. I wonder what his father, the doctor, would think?

I know you’ve been told you’ll amount to nothing and no one really shows much interest in sending you to college, but you need to take the bull by the horns. Do it yourself. It’s not too late. There’s financial aid and loans and that guidance counselor at school should really have done a better job. Make her do her fucking job this time. Who gives a shit what Ron says and who cares if he laughs at you. In the end, he’s not your father and he’s just threatened by women who use their brains. He’s awful to you because you don’t let him dominate you. Use your anger to prove him wrong. Get this college thing out of the way now or we’re going to spend our late teens and early twenties bouncing around aimlessly. You need to make a plan, because in two years he’s going to push you out of the house.

Have you sensed that I’m steering this letter in a serious direction? This is the really important part. Please pay attention. ..

You’re going go through some really heavy stuff that you don’t understand.  You’re going to feel out of control. Hopeless. I’m going to be blunt with you – you’re going to wish for death. I hope that what I’m telling you right now keeps us from reaching that point, because we almost don’t make it through. You’ll come close. You’ll have a solid plan in place and it’s not a teenage angst-ridden cry for help. I’m telling you now so that we don’t stumble blindly for four years, begging God for escape. You’re simply suffering from something called ADHD that has turned into depression. That’s it. I know that in 1986 people don’t talk about depression and you’re afraid you’ll be called crazy. Better to be called crazy by ignorant people than to be called dead. Fo shizzle! (that’ll make sense in a few more years.)

Sadly, I’m sitting here trying figure out who you should talk to about the black hole that’s about to swallow you and I can’t think of one person. There isn’t a single person in your life that is really going to hear what you’re saying. They’re a bit tone-deaf to you at the moment, aren’t they? In the end, I’m the only one who is ever going to truly understand the depths that you’ll reach. Fight. Fight hard because it does get better. I promise you, it does.

Talk to Dr. Evans. I know that he knows mom, but he has a duty to help you and diagnose your illness or, send you to someone who can. That’s all it is, you know…a neurological illness. People don’t choose to be depressed and people who are clinically depressed can’t “snap out of it”. You have my permission to punch anyone that tells you to “snap out of it” in the face! Hard.

You aren’t alone. Millions of people have this disease. Simply put, the neurons in your brain have trouble re-absorbing something called serotonin as it is transmitted across synapses. There are medications that will help you someday. I promise. Get the help you need and everything else will fall into place. Or not, but at least you’ll be able to cope with what turn out to be some horrible decisions without falling into a pit of despair. Sitting on the floor crying in various bedrooms in numerous houses over the years really sucked. You can help us avoid that. We’re going to miss out on so much if you don’t. You’re going to spend a lot of our senior year at home on Friday and Saturday night. You’ll go to school and act like everything is fine but the charade is going to exhaust you.

You have so much beauty in front of you. Things you can’t begin imagine. Heaven on earth. I’m not going to tell you about it here, because it will spoil the impact of it all when it happens, but you have four very important people waiting for you.

This isn’t at all what you envisioned the future version of you would say, is it? I’m sorry we aren’t glamorous and famous and wealthy and that we don’t drive a red Ferrari like Christy Brinkley in Vacation. We aren’t the Editor at Sassy Magazine and no, Johnny Depp isn’t our husband. (He’s still so totally HOT, by the way!) The reality of our life it this: Ferrari’s and bigger boobies and being Elle Macpherson pretty and being rich and famous isn’t nearly as beautiful as what we have at this end of our life. And though Johnny still makes us drool, he’s kind of weird. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be married to him…I think he might even be a little smelly.

Good luck and don’t let anyone make you doubt us.



This letter to me was written in response to writing prompt #5 at The Lightening and The Lightening Bug.


  1. Wow! You had me laughing and then catching my breath. I can only imagine what life was like in your house as a teen. I’m guessing it wasn’t fun. Look how far you have come!

    • It wasn’t always bad, just a few years there. In the end, it made me strong and capable and sympathetic to others.

  2. I want to be your 16 year old self’s friend who she can confide in and trust. I want to hug her and hold her hand and tell her she’s beautiful and smart and loved and that things will get better.

    And, truth be told, I’d want to smoke pot with her. Just once. And not when we’re cooking or fixing our hair.

  3. Amazing! I love the way you began it…with the Back to the Future reference and the little bit about John Delorean, ha! And my high school guidance counselor sucked the big one, too. I could have totally used a little “guidance” back then, but she was only interested in the rich and popular kids…not the wallflowers. Whatever…we made our own way without their help.

    The bit about depression really touched a chord in me…sad that ignorance so often keeps people from understanding a neurological illness. Sad that people judged and some still judge what cannot be helped. I’m so glad you pulled through that difficult time in your life, so glad you found the happiness you so richly deserve. I want to hug the 16-year old you, but I know she’ll be okay, because I know she becomes who she was always meant to be.

  4. Dear Kelli, I love your letter. From the funny parts to the “almost not making it parts” and the “don’t become a pothead” part. Love it!

  5. Oh I loved it…and tears may have fallen. I wish we knew each other back then. I wish back then we knew what we know now. Imagine…
    This piece was amazing, it was clearly a look into your past. It was funny, witty (of course) and sentimental.


  6. Like others I want to be there for your 16 year old self…I want to erase some of that stuff from your past. But…who knows, would you be you now? Because YOU, now, sounds like an amazing person. Glad those four people were waiting there for you in your future. Thanks for your humor, your openness, and for your hope….and thanks for sharing all of that with us.

    • Thank you, Terry. I don’t think that I’d change a single thing. Well, maybe a just a few things…but otherwise, I’m not quite sure that I’d appreciate what I have now.

  7. Thank you so much for telling 16 year old you to hang out with 16 year old me. We were all so caught up in our own worlds of pain then, weren’t we? As usual, I’m finding that I have more and more in common with you. We sooo have to get together in the real world some day!

  8. Wow, so beautiful! Thanks for sharing such a personal side. And I love your voice!

  9. Oh my goodness….from such difficult childhoods come such amazing adults! How can you be so funny yet so absolutely serious at the same time, and keep me enthralled through it all? Seriously amazing letter. Wow.

    And yes, I do suspect an odor doth emanate from the Depp.

  10. That letter sounds like it was written to my 14-24 year old selves. You know that if that 16 year old REALLY took your advice, you wouldn’t be the awesomeness that you are now. At least that’s what I tell myself…

  11. If we really had the ability to reach back into time with these letters and tweak our futures, how different would our lives have been?

    Maybe, if we could just erase people, a chosen few, our time travel might have been an easier ride..

  12. Oh Kelli, there were so many parts of your letter where I thought, “Whoa, I would have said that too.” I wrote my letter to me from my dad, but if I’d written one from me? It’s eerily similar. Probably the biggest difference is that you hung onto your figure, while I? Did not. ;D

    Beautiful job, as usual!

  13. If only we had the hindsight. At 16, even 18, we have no business trying to figure things out. We all need a letter from our future selves to help. Love it. Love how real you be, girl. Just love it. Glad to know you have a HEA of your own.

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