dear sixteen-year-old me:

[i wrote this letter as part of emily freeman's celebration of her new book, graceful, written for teenage girls. she asked some of her favorite writers to write letters to their teenage self and she invited her readers to do it too. i'm in between age groups, but it made me think about what i'd write, even at this point.]

I am only six years older than you, and am in really no position to be giving you any advice. In fact, I have days when I am so entirely aware that I am at a point in my life where it would be helpful to receive a letter like this, not write one.

But I also have days where I think about all of the things I would say to you. Things I wish someone would've said to me. Things someone probably did say to me that I just didn't listen to. So listen up.

Be active. Stop taking naps every day after school and do something that will make you tired enough to fall asleep at night. Find the things you're most passionate about (hint: Jesus, writing, music) and chase after them. Your boring state, your small town, your too-cool-for-you classmates are not an excuse to be apathetic, so stop hiding behind them.

Pay attention in school. You will not be there forever, even though it feels like you will be, and there will eventually be a day when you miss it. (Yes, I'm serious.) And read those books they assign you in English. You will want to read them later, but no one is going to just hand you a copy for free.

Don't be afraid to think about the future and let go of the past. DREAM. And please, whatever you do, take time to consider what you want out of college and what you want out of a career. They are not as far away as they seem and putting it off will only cause you lots of heartache and money. And don't hate on community college. It will be the best two years of your college experience.

Most importantly, read your Bible. Any good, solid piece of advice I can think to give you all comes from those pages. Just pick it up, start somewhere, and don't stop. Get to know Jesus and then give Him everything you have. (It's not yours anyway.) This lukewarm arrangement you've got going on is not beneficial to anyone.

I know life feels like too much sometimes. I know you feel like that all the time. I remember. But it gets better. Just focus on that part about Jesus, learn what it means to be His, and everything else will fall into place. And try to start believing that soon so you can start living a better story.

Because, in the future, you won't miss who you are. You will miss who you never were.

p.s. You end up in Nashville. Not New York.