Happy Birthday to Me: Letter to My 16 Year Old Self

Happy Birthday to Me: Letter to My 16 Year Old Self

Today is my birthday. To be more specific, it is my 28th birthday. I know, I’m a baby. But as I quickly approach the end of a decade in my life, I can’t help but look back. The past decade has contained some of the worst years of my life, but also some of the best years of my life. So today, I wanted to give some advice I wish I would have listen to, to my 16 year old self.

And maybe you know a 16 year old who needs this advice too. Please share it! My fellow youth, you don’t have to believe me, but I sure hope you’ll at least listen. Because even though it may have been over a decade ago, I was 16 years old once too.


Dear My 16 Year Old Self,

I know right now, life is tough. All you can think about is high school being over, turning 18, and becoming an adult. I know this is the last thing you want to hear.

But here’s the thing….

Being an adult is over-rated.

Being an adult requires spending money on things like rent, gas, and groceries. And let me tell you, it really sucks when you have to cut your shopping trips to Target just so you can pay for these other things. Speaking of work, work hard for your money, it feels better spending it when you know you’ve earned it. Establish good financial habits starting NOW! Get a credit card, use it, and pay it off in full every month. Just do it. This will be invaluable later in life. And even though some times finances may be tight, don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while. Gifts to yourself are the best.

Being an adult also requires being pretty dang selfless, so although this sounds terrible, enjoy being selfish while you can. Soak up the moments when you don’t have to work full time at a job and instead can lay in the sun by the pool after school. Soak up the time spent with mom and dad, even though I know sometimes you “hate” them. You never know where you’re going to end up in life, it just may be 1,500 miles away from them. You’ll find out you miss them a lot more than you would have ever though at this age. Soak up as much time with grandma as you can, she isn’t going to live forever. And someday you’ll wish you learned how to do things like sew from her.

Don’t believe what the movies tell you about love. Sure there is certainly times when you will feel those butterflies, but it isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re meant to be together. Date lots of different people, experience lots of different love. Also, know when it isn’t right and end it. Don’t be afraid to break someone’s heart, sometimes it is the best thing you can do. You’ll waste years of your life holding onto a relationship that isn’t meant to be.

Marriage is one of the most amazing things you’ll ever experience, but it is also one of the hardest. You’ll learn way more about yourself in marriage than the other person. Don’t be in a hurry. Figure out who you are and then choose wisely. Choose someone that you can get through the long haul with, a true partner in life. Quick tip: check out how they treat their mother, I know everyone says this, but it’s so true!

You are defined by whom you surround yourself with… As much as you’d like to deny it, it’s one of those realities of life. Pick the good ones, pick the people who inspire and encourage you and most of all love you for you. They’re worth it every time. Don’t waste so much time trying to force friendships with the crappy ones. And fitting in is totally over-rated and not worth struggling through a crappy friendship.

Friends will come and go. I know right now friends equal life. And you are all BFF’s for life. Sure some may make it past high school and beyond, but many will suddenly drift apart. Know when to recognize this. I spent so many tears and so much stress trying to make old friendships work. If they are meant to be, they will find themselves back into your life at some time.

Always believe in yourself. Despite what anyone tells you, you are beautiful. You are smart. You are capable. You are anything you want to be in life. Never ever forget that. The voices will find their way into your head. Don’t believe them. Ever. 

And finally… God is always the answer.You’ll forget this. And because of it, the next few years will be some of the darkest years of your life. You’ll struggle because you forgot and chose not to listen. Oh self, I wish you would have remembered it. It would have saved you a lot of heartache. 

But hang in there because soon, you’ll experience the best years of your life. And for once in your life even though it is far from perfect, you’ll finally feel like it all “fits”. 


My 28 Year Old Self

 Mark and Jenny Sunflowers-16


  1. May 1, 2015 / 11:54 am

    Love this! I did this a couple weeks ago and it was a great exercise! And, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Many blessings to you in the years ahead!
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  2. May 1, 2015 / 4:48 pm

    You beat me to it! I have been wanting to do a post like this for awhile now! I still might! Hope your birthday was great!! To may more! 🙂

    P.S. I’m going to be 24 this summer, and I already feel nervous for 30!

  3. Melissa O'Gwin-Hansen
    May 2, 2015 / 12:52 pm

    Oh Jenny, I just love how you write. You write from the heart and are so honest. This is not the first time I’ve printed one of your pieces out to save for when my 9 year old daughter gets older. Keep on being an inspiration beautiful girl.

  4. Alice
    May 5, 2015 / 12:09 am

    Jenny; That was awesome. I wish I had had someone to say a lot of those words to me when I was 16, but doubt that if I had it probably would not have took. I hope that many girls and boys also will read your post and listen to your words of wisdom. Happy Birthday, and sending wishes for MaNy mAnY moRE!!