To Do Lists, Young Adult

To my YA self


I am oh so excited to be participating in An Open Letter to My YA Self! Ginger at GReads! is hosting this amazing blog hop feature and today it’s my turn!!!

Dear 16 year-old Candice,

Hey, what’s up? How are you? Hope you are doing well.

I tried folding this letter in that little origami square thing you do but I swear I have no idea how to do it anymore. Take a moment and write down instructions for me. Also, while you’re at it, write down instructions of how to roll your hair. You stop doing this in college and for the life of me I cannot do it anymore.

Right now I imagine you are in fourth period Social Studies. Rachel or Kristi probably bought some Bold Chex Mix from the vending machine before you all trekked out to the trailer where class is held; one of them probably shared a rye chip with you. Lucky duck… I still love that stuff.

Maybe it’s a little weird to be hearing from your future self. It’s even weirder to be writing to you. I’m terrified I might give something away, I might tell you your future and you’ll change something or try to “fix” a future mistake.

Don’t you dare.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go back to being sixteen. I know people think “Oh, I would do this differently if I could do it all over again…,” but I won’t tell you that. I won’t tell you about the mistakes and bad choices you’ll make or ask you to PLEASE not do X, Y, or Z. That’s what has made you who I am.

Life turns out funny for us. Things you hoped to do or hoped you’d be don’t quite turn out the way we expected them to. Sometimes we set a course and, after smooth sailing, we reach our intended destination. Sometimes there’s a small storm that pushes us off course but we manage to navigate through it. And then sometimes there’s Gilligan’s Island. You will, luckily, experience all three.

I’d like to tell you that by 32 things are good. You’ve gotten married, had babies, own a lovely home, got a great job as… what did we want to be when we were sixteen? Man, your mind has changed WAAAAY too much in the past 16 years. Also, for the record, paying 25k to major in theater is a bad idea. Don’t even think about it. In fact, don’t major in hospitality either. Major in accounting. I know you’re probably thinking how bad you are in math but don’t worry about that. Technology has come a LONG way in the past 16 years so most computer programs do all the real work for you. You’re welcome.

Truthfully, though, things are not what you ever imagined. Or ever could have imagined. I am not married. I do not have babies. I don’t own a home. I have a decent job which I enjoy and pays the bills, but it’s far from a dream job. But are things good? Hell yeah they are. And I owe every second of my happiness to you.

I’m kind of glad that you never imagined yourself being were I am. I wonder what we would have become if you had. Sometimes the things you never imagined can be the best things in life. Here are some things that will happen that I bet you never imagined:

You will, at times, be extremely jealous of your younger brother and sister, especially as you get older.

That boy you were IN LOVE WITH in high school turned out to be a total dick to you and did not age well at all. AT. ALL. Trust me when I say that you dodged a bullet there.

You are still completely into Sailor Moon.

AOL becomes basically obsolete. Yeah… I know.

And now for some advice. I give GREAT advice. But with that advice I want to give you some books. We still love books, probably more so than you currently do. I know these books haven’t been written as of 1999, but as I’m time traveling to send you this letter I can time travel and give you these books.

  • Say “yes” as often as possible. Be bold in your decisions and participate as much as you can. Take people up on offers and immerse yourself in new ideas and experiences. But with that piece of advice in mind, be courageous enough to say “no.” Trust me when I say that saying “no” is one of the most liberating feelings in the world. Saying “no” does not make you a bad person, it will not make that boy like you any less, and you will not lose opportunities because of it.
  • Enjoy your boobs while you can because senior year they are going to get bigger and you will hate them. Your boobs have never looked better than they do right now. Damn, I really miss them.
  • Love with your whole heart. This will get it hurt more times than I dare tell you but your heart isn’t as fragile as you may often think. That thing is strong and can handle just about anything, even being broken. I’ve yet to declare this heart of ours unfixable.
  • Always make up words when you don’t know one.
  • You’re going to find a time in your life where there is nothing but darkness. I’d like to say that you’ll be able to escape it but you won’t. It will suck you in, hold you tight, and be scarier than you can ever imagine. You’ll battle it fiercely, because you’re strong and stubborn. There will be pills and doctors and chocolate. I won’t tell you how this ends but arm yourself with hope and love and courage. Oh, and Faerie Tale Theatre (except The Little Mermaid… believe me, this is the only fairy tale that doesn’t work).
  • For God’s sake do NOT watch Never Been Kissed on prom night. Do us both a favor. Just… don’t.

I know right now you’re struggling with reading, that you’re overwhelmed with the BOOOOORING books you’re having to read for school. I know that you’re primarily reading all those romance novels that have always been in your house. I’m not trying to tell you to stop. But take a moment to step outside your normal reading and try some of these. I hope you find even more meaning in them at sixteen than I found in them as an adult; there is so much hidden within their pages.

16 year-old Candice, I want to tell you so much about the woman you’ll become, about the great things you’ll do and about the great people you’ll meet. I want to tell you about the kisses and the adventures and the triumphs. I want to tell you that you’re beautiful and smart and funny and witty, that you’ll learn to love your nose and your butt, that you will be complete just as you are. I won’t though.

But don’t worry… you’ll find out these things soon enough.

Love Always,

32 year old Candice

Thanks so much to Ginger for hosting this GREAT feature! I had such a lovely, tear-filled time writing to my YA self. It was a great way to spend some time self-reflecting and letting myself know that I really am a great and amazing person… something I not only don’t tell myself enough but something I didn’t hear enough when I was younger.

ALSO! Be sure to enter the event-wide giveaway Ginger is hosting; each participating blog will have a link to the giveaway but you can enter today right here!

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8 thoughts on “To my YA self”

  1. Fun feature! Sometimes I wonder if my younger self would listen to my older self… I was pretty dang stubborn, and yet I did try to recognize good advice. But sometimes my youthful optimism clouded my judgment.


  2. Oh how I loved reading this!!! You and I are close in age, so I could hear my own voice reflected back in some of your words. I feel like once you turn 30, you are able to look back on your teenage years with a much clearer, open perspective. I really enjoyed the book rec’s and how you paired them with certain situations. Such great books, too! I had to LOL at the boob comment. If I could go back & tell my own teenage body something, well we already know it would be a lot of somethings lol, but I’d definitely tell her to embrace that body! I was always so self conscious of it, thinking I was ten times sizes too big. Oh how I’d give anything to be THAT size again.

    Thank you, Candice, for being involved with this feature. So fun reading your letter! xxoo


  3. I’d definitely tell myself to focus more in school and to not let others influence my college decisions. It is one of the biggest regrets I have this day. I’d also tell myself not to be so shy and actually get more involved in high school activities.

    I’d also recommend my YA self to read Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen. Doesn’t seem like it’s a lot of reader’s favorite Sarah Dessen book but it quickly became mine.


  4. Candice, what a fabulous letter! I loved reading what you composed and all your advice is so good!! I may have to consider writing a letter to my YA self too–I just think it’s a fabulous exercise.

    I’m also excited to know another book blogger in her 30s!! 😀


    1. Oh thank you! I had the best time writing it, including the tears! It was such a moving experience and made me learn a lot about myself that I didn’t realize I knew!

      And yay other 30 year olds! I love finding other bloggers my age! 🙂


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