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Letter to my Teenage Self: Robyn of Hollow Tree Ventures

I’m Robyn from Hollow Tree Ventures, where I snark about parenting (and apparently do things like pretend “snark” is a verb). At HTV I also talk about the multiple ways I screw up daily, which is a lot like what I’m going to talk about here in my Letter To Teenaged Me, except that back when I was 16 making a mistake was mortifying, whereas now I don’t care. Or maybe I just got used to it. In either case, when Delilah sent the invitation to write a letter to myself I was all over it, partly because Teenaged Me really has it coming. And if I won’t listen to me (which I wouldn’t, even if I could hear me through the spacetime continuum) then at least this letter sends a vital message to my children who might read this one day, that message being, “Reading stuff about your mom when she was a teenager is always a bad idea, because what if she mentions things like boozing or sexy time? Ack! That would be gross.”

Dearest Teenaged Robyn,
Snap out of it.
Like most teenagers, you think you know it all, but allow me to fill you in on a few things that may surprise you.
  • You don’t know your limit on alcohol consumption. People who know how to drink and when to stop don’t do things like throw up in the woods while they’re looking for their shoes, only later to remember that they weren’t wearing shoes when they got to the woods, which incidentally also should’ve been a red flag.
  • You don’t know how good you have it. Inside your head you still think you’re this kid:
I had to stop wearing those glasses because the glare was distracting to airline pilots. Also, please don’t be ย jealous of my Fem-Mullet.
  • But actually you’re not half bad at sixteen – Thirty-Something You will be perfectly happy to kick you ย  ย  ย  in the teeth if you don’t start appreciating your flat abs and the fact that you can function on four hours of sleep. It doesn’t last forever, I can tell you that for sure.
  • You don’t know what’s good for you. You see Mom cringe every time certain people call – she’s a smart lady, you should trust her judgment. Not everybody who gives you the time of day is worth your time.

It’s normal to be a hot mess of hormones, broken hearts, and insecurities at age 16, but you’re turning it into an art form. And that’s not a compliment. Everything is not, contrary to popular belief, a Major Tragedy. Making bad decisions is not the end of the world. The Earth will continue to turn if you don’t have a date to the Big Dance, or if someone says something about you behind your back, or if you walk into the lunch room and you don’t see any familiar faces. You won’t drop dead if everyone doesn’t like you.
What I’m saying is that high school isn’t the only phase of your life, nor is it the last, nor is it the most important. In the grand scheme of things, it is so, so monumentally inconsequential.
You’ll stay friends with the people who’ve been your best friends since grade school. Jackasses who hurt you will cease to play any role in your life whatsoever. You’ll find lots of people who love you for who you are.
And on that subject, you’re going to go through a lot of crap before you become the person you’re supposed to be. You’ll live through it, despite your best efforts to sabotage yourself, despite your periods of self-destruction, despite both your depression and your ability to convince yourself you’re happy when you’re miserable.
You’ll waste a lot of years on regret and punishing yourself for things you won’t even understand until you’re much closer to my age. And then you’ll learn that there was nothing to forgive all along.
You will come through it all, and most importantly, one of these days you will like You.
And you’ll realize that’s all you really need, but that you also have so much more. And this time you’ll appreciate it while you have it, because your life becomes undeniably awesome.
So on second thought, don’t do anything differently. Whatever you’re doing ended up getting us here.
So keep up the good work.
Tarp Lounging was all the rage in the mid-90’s.
P.S. Okay, you can make a few little changes. For instance, senior photos are coming up in a few years – it won’t hurt you to know that short-sleeved rayon skort jumpers with shoulder pads won’t always be in style, so you might want to rethink your photo session wardrobe. Come to think of it, I doubt they were in style in 1994, either.
Please visit the current-time me on Facebook and Twitter, where I promise I hardly ever talk to myself. Usually.

Thank you Robyn, for sharing your letter and especially for sharing those pictures. The Fem-Mullet just made my whole day.

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  • Oh, I like that movie idea – except of course 16yo me would be all side-eyes at adult me and conclude I was an out-of-touch old windbag who just didn’t understand what it’s like to be young – as if we weren’t all young once! Thanks a bunch for the followbacks – can’t wait to stalk you more. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Stay snarky, sister!

  • Awwwww, Robyn! Thanks for the follows! I’ll totally bloggycrush on you right back, unlike those silly boys from HS, college and random bars (I’ll speak for myself :). Anyhoo, Fabulous post! Had me smiling knowingly thinking how painfully insecure I was, we all were at 16(and then when I think I still act that way now sometimes – in small ways, yeah…) I think we should all be able to write a letter to our teenaged self- except somehow our teenaged self will actually get to READ it. How about our cool adult self will meet and mentor our teenaged self I smell a screenplay.

    Also loved the snarky thank you posts. I would be right there with you, sister, going to hell in a handbasket. I’m more fun when i’m snarky. I just am! Looking forward to reading more of you!

  • shannon

    oh my, to laugh with delilah and then get a little surprise dose of robin at the end of that? see, this is why i knew that i should stop actually doing work at work at 4 instead of waiting til 5 like they want me to ๐Ÿ™‚ what, they pay me to do that? pii-shaw! at least the fashion is early nineties, because i remember middle schooling it through the late 80’s and shoulder pads got nothin on neon, french rolled jeans, and bangs you need a ruler to measure….oh, and the pilot distractors made me laugh so hard i dribbled a lil mountain dew on my pants….

    • Ah, the rolled jeans – what were we thinking? I’m tall, so my jeans were already too short! I guess the alternative was stirrup pants, and my mom always ended up cutting the stirrups off (again, too tall) leaving little tabs at the bottom. Oh, I was soooo cool.

      Sorry about your pants. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Robyn, you are so incredibly witty–I’m in awe! I agree, whatever your teenage self was doing, maybe just let her have at it b/c you are completely awesome now! Love the tarp backdrop ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Aww, you’re too sweet! I’m sure the Now Me could do without a lot of her shenanigans, but considering I don’t have to live through any of that ever again (RIGHT?!??) I might as well leave well enough alone. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Spoken like the most super-awesome woman I know. Thanks for being my wife. Also, could you write teenager me a letter? He also needs a good talking to. And maybe a smack.

    P.s. 1994 you is uber hot, skorts, shoulder pads, and all. Seriously.

    • Thanks, babe. If I know me, I probably still have that little rayon number somewhere in the bottom of my closet under the denim overalls and the acid-wash jeans. Seeeeexy!

      Teenage you might be too big a project, I’m afraid – how about I write 20-something you a letter and clue you in to the fact that I was flirting with you at that wedding where we met? Talk about somebody who needs a smack! That oughtta save us over a decade of not being married. ๐Ÿ˜‰