Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A letter to my 16 year old self (part 2).

Oh hey. Hello.

You remember when I told you I’d have some advice for my 16 year old self…tomorrow? Yes, I’m aware that was four days ago.  But, we’re here now.

So, Kristen (and all the girls like me at 16). Here’s how we’re going to start this off.

You’ve got two things to balance: enjoying where you’re at, and learning how to be an adult. 

Here’s the thing: so many people equate being young with making stupid choices, being rude, and not knowing how to look out for yourself or others. It doesn’t. That just makes you rude, dumb, and pretty much unbearable to be around. Here’s what you’re aiming for with enjoying being young:

Jessica, front left
1.  Enjoying the unknown. As you age, things start to get pretty clear cut. My best friend growing up, Jessica, shared this piece of advice her older sister had shared with her: “Enjoy not knowing who you’ll marry. This is the only time in your life where you will not know who you are spending your life with.” We start reaching for the next thing without enjoying the place we’re in: the place we’ll never be in again.  Instead of throwing yourself into angst about who and where and why, realize that THIS…this unknown that you’re experiencing?  This promise of some mysterious future that could be exciting, crazy, boring… whoknows? THIS is the youth that people crave when they’re older. It’s not the incredibly stupid choices, or being rude because you can… it’s simply sitting and enjoying the fact that you have your whole life ahead of you, full of things that you don’t even know yet.  I know you’re probably reaching for what’s next. I read this French folk tale in grade school and it stuck with me: if we had the ability to rush our lives, it would be the past we long for. So savor it. You will never be 16, 17, 18 again. You will never be in High School again. 

2. To that end, Lady, you’re aim is adulthood. You are striving to be a woman of good character. You already know that the world focuses on your looks, God looks at your heart.  Here’s the thing: the world looks at your heart too.  I lived in Japan, and there a friend told me a proverb:  "In three days you get tired of a beautiful woman while in the same period of time you get used to an ugly one." What? What does this mean? All our efforts towards beautifying our outward appearance mean nothing if we have an ugly heart. My friend explained it like this: “In Japan, a man would rather have a plain wife with a good heart, because the heart lasts. If he marries a beautiful but selfish woman, it is the selfishness that will last, not the beauty.”  This is true guys. I’m married. If I’m selfish, you can be dang sure that David doesn’t care that I look cute. Further, whoever said you had to be dumb to be pretty...I would like to strangle with my bare hands. Trust me, a smart pretty girl is someone you want to get to know. A dumb pretty girl is just somebody you want to bang.  Not marriage material.  Not friend material. Not someone you hire for a serious job.  Not someone who you want parenting.  Challenge yourself. Push yourself.  Please please, I’m begging you, temper your beauty with learning how to be constant, how to think, how to kindly and respectfully challenge other people, and how to love. Because those things last. In that light, school is not the only measure of smart. As long as you are challenging yourself to be your best self, stretching your gifts, you will be interesting.

The goal here is to grow up... to figure out how to be an adult. Are the choices you are making pointing you in that direction, or will they make you dumb, rude, and self-absorbed? Think about it.  How do you think the girls from the years ahead of you ended up the train-wrecks that they are? Most of them believed the lie that being young means making stupid choices.  They made being considered pretty and cool their ultimate goal. Listen, I know several people who never learned to own their actions that ended up being kicked out of college.  Or pregnant. These people made good grades and weren’t entirely stupid in High School, but they leaned heavily on the protection their parents offered, and never learned to rule their own actions.  I’m talking common sense here, ok? If you focus on yourself and your desires, it will end badly.  Being an adult means learning how to do the things you don’t want to do, love the people you don’t want to love, be kind when you don’t want to be kind… it means doing what you don’t want to do. What happens when you practice doing only the things you want to do? That’s right. You end up a train wreck.  You’re a baby forever. And I know that’s not what you really want.


So, practically speaking, what does this look like? For one, it means learning how to look out for other people.  It means stopping with the whole, ‘You’re my kid brother, so I can treat you like crap’ kick, and start looking out for them, loving them, and investing in them. That’s what an adult does. It means valuing your parents instead of doing the whole “teenage” thing.  It means you learn how to stop making excuses for yourself. Do the things you don’t want to do, and you challenge yourself.  I promise you (promise. Seriously.) you will not ever ever regret any of these things. You know what you will regret? Treating the people around you selfishly. Not learning how to own your actions. Living a self-centered life.

Much love, and more to come,

kristen mrdjanov


  1. So. Dang. Good.

    Some may find it difficult to believe a 25-year-old woman could have this depth of understanding - could dish out this kind of wisdom. But you just did. Again, I am grateful for you.


  2. Love this, Kristen! I am tempted to print this out and read it to Nora and Tirzah in about 14 years...you said everything much better than I could have expressed it! That sounds like such a long time from now until I realize that it's almost been 8 years since we graduated THS...sometimes I feel like life is flying by even without a magic silver ball. Makes me want to stop rushing around the house and give all of my kids a little extra snuggle. :)

    1. :) You are so right about how fast time passes without a silver ball! I feel like God inclines us towards enjoying the small things (like snuggling your kids) because in those moments, time slows. I've always looked towards the next thing: it's so hard to remember that God created THIS moment for me to enjoy just as much as the next! Love reading your blog, Mary...it's fun to watch your kiddos grow up.


Yes! Thanks for the love!

Print Button