Letter to my 17 year old self

Several years ago a few friends and I practiced an exercise where we each wrote a letter to our 17 year old selves, words of advice so to speak. It was awesome, very self-reflective, and showed us just how much we’d learned and been through in the previous decade. I encourage you to try this yourself. Here is my letter.

Dear Maria,

I know you feel alone, like you’ve just lost the rest of your life because you have this baby to raise, but I promise you – it will get better. Just ride this time out, it doesn’t seem like it, but this time will only equate to a very small portion of your life. And your life is far from over.

You will learn to be a good mom. It takes time and I know you are unsure of yourself right now but you will learn.

Finish school. Go straight to college, even if it’s only part time. If you fail a class because you’re having a hard time juggling work and your son, ask for help from the family and take the class again. Make it work this time. Just don’t stop going. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Get a digital camera as soon as you can afford it. Take a lot of pictures. Those digital pictures are going to last a lot longer than the 35mm film. Honest.

You will find the love of your life.

You haven’t even met half of the people you are going to meet in your lifetime. Don’t worry.

You are going to make a million more GREAT memories that you don’t believe you can- but you will! Just be patient.

Save some money in a secret bank account. Make it an IRA plan that you can’t access so easily.

Save more money for AJ sooner, college will be around the corner before you know it.

Spend less time worrying about your weight. You’re not fat.

You are beautiful. You have great cheek bones, smooth skin, and a sweet smile. Enjoy your youthful beauty for as long as you can because when you get older you will regret that you never realized what you had.

Practice safe sex.

Don’t have sex with your girlfriends’ ex-boyfriends, it complicates things.

Cherish the group of friends you have in your 20’s. They will be the best you ever have.

Don’t drive drunk.

Accept your mom for who she is. She’s crazy but don’t ask her to change, don’t expect her to. She doesn’t have to and she won’t ever. The sooner you accept that the sooner you can make amends with who she is to you.

Don’t be sad  about Dad. I know you think he doesn’t love you, but he does. It’s not about you. You didn’t do anything wrong. Some people are just broken.

Hold onto every moment with your baby sister. Make every memory with her last longer. Love her. Take care of her for as long as you can. Forgive her.

Control your temper. Don’t get so angry. The world isn’t out to get you. Think before you react. THINK FIRST. Revenge doesn’t fix anything.

Don’t sweat the stuff people do to you, life really is a circle. You get what you give.

Get into jogging, or running, or walking in the mornings. Make it a habit.

Write it all down. All of it. Everything you feel. Everything you’re afraid of. All of your secret hopes you don’t want anyone to know about. Write it all down. Hide them if you have to but just write it all down. Your own words will serve as your record that you actually did it, you went through it, you got through it. I know you’re afraid people will read what you write but that’s okay. When you get older you will want them to.

When you are 22 you will go through some things that make you question yourself. You will ask this question everyday for several years. The answer is yes. Yes, the tears will stop. Be strong.

Throw less house parties. They are not worth the headache.

Buy a hybrid car as soon as they are available. I’m serious. Don’t worry about how they look. It won’t matter soon enough.

Go ahead and take those risks. They won’t always pay off, but when they do, they will pay off BIG.

Take care of your credit.

Don’t talk back to Grandma. Just listen to her. You don’t have to believe everything she says, you can pretend. She won’t be around forever and you will regret the times you fought with her.

You don’t know who I’m talking about yet but- he will come home. He will.

Don’t be angry when your kids act just like you, they are doing it because you are what they know.

Don’t get angry when your kids don’t act like you, they are their own people. They’re not you. Let them be who they want to be.

Last piece of advice. Remember this one because you will question this time and again for decades to come. Things are going to work out for you. You will be okay. Don’t let your fears stop you from trying or you’ll miss out on all the successess in store for you. Don’t stop trying. Your life is worth it. You are worth it.


30 year old Maria

P.S. Don’t overanalyze this letter. It’s not a map of your future. It’s just some advice from someone older and wiser.

  1. December 21, 2010 at 3:43 AM

    Very poignant after seeing the Thanksgiving pictures of your gorgeous family 🙂

  2. December 21, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    I’m glad you liked it. It still makes me tear when I read it. It’s funny the person you evolve into. There was a time I honestly thought I would never be anything more than a stupid 17 year old girl that got knocked up.

  3. brrrgirl
    January 20, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    You speak the truth. I had all the same things when I had my own son at 19. Now that I am older and couldn’t have any more children I wish that I had spent more time just playing with him, but I also know that as he gets older no amount of time would have been enough.

  4. April 8, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    Hi Maria,

    It’s 5am in CA and I’ve finally finished reading all of your blogs. I know I could’ve read them when I had more time or at least at a more decent hour, but it was like a good book you just can’t put down…

    I’m not sure if you remember me or how your blog post made it into my inbox yesterday morning, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.

    So I’m choosing to leave a comment on your 17 year old self because I believe that was around the last time I saw you. We were both young and I remember you being a sweet and quiet person with an innocent heart. You had a beautiful heart then and more so now (which is evident by how you open your heart and let people in).

    I’m sorry we did not keep in touch. It seems our paths went in different directions and based on your blog, yours was the one less traveled… One that has made you stronger, wiser and more keen to life.

    I want to thank you for sharing your life and your thoughts on this blog. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried and I’ve contemplated over some of the points you’ve made about love, life and family…

    It takes a strong person to put your life out there for people to know your life’s intimate moments and hard to believe antics – still a little teary eyed from the road trip blog! Many times people feel like they are alone and no one out there knows exactly what they’re going through until they come across it and realize that they are not alone and that there are probably others out there suffering in silence.

    I pray that you will find renewed energy to endure through the bad days and cherish the days that are not so challenging. Good luck with finals and early congratulations on graduating!

    Wishing you all the best,
    Joy 🙂

    • April 8, 2012 at 11:41 AM

      I woke up 30 minutes after you posted this comment and have since read this paragraph over a dozen times and each time my eyes tear and my heart swells with validation and for the acknowledgment.

      “I’m sorry we did not keep in touch. It seems our paths went in different directions and based on your blog, yours was the one less traveled… One that has made you stronger, wiser and more keen to life.”

      Yes, I remember you and yes, I intentionally sent you my blog post. Every post I commit to seeking out a few dozen more readers, usually by reaching out via email or personal conversation. I have to rack my hubby’s FB page, all my old emails, and scour corners for contact info for old friends, current neighbors, etc.

      25% of the time people don’t even open the email..or says my tracking software, 50% of the time people do open the emails but don’t reply (so I can only hope they actually read it and I think they do because I can see that they’re forwarding the email and blog link), the remaining 25% do reply and read…and many times they do what you just did, they express their appreciation and sometimes even share parts of their own lives with me. They tell me about their own struggles and triumphs or they say I reminded them “of this one time” in their lives…I can’t tell you how much those emails, comments, and conversations mean to me or how much they humble me.

      Thank you for stopping by. Thank you reading my blog. And more importantly, thank you for reaching (back) out to me. You’re comments made my day. Love, Maria

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