Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The 1 Thing I Would Want My Teenage Self to Know

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This is a letter I wrote to my teenage self. The letter is a series initiated by Emily Freeman to celebrate the release of her new book, Graceful. If you want to read more letters like this one click here.

Dear 13 year old Jeremy:

I debated whether or not to write you. On one hand it makes so much sense. Your life will be filled with mistakes. Some that prove to be painful. The natural purpose of this letter would be to help you avoid the pain.

These mistakes that seem so hard at the time will be some of the most important things you ever do. I would hate to rob you of the opportunity to grow.

I know you well. You need to learn some things the hard way.

But there  is one lesson that I wish you had learned earlier on. Don’t worry, I’ll keep things simple. I remember how short your attention span is.

The one thing I would tell you is that:

Right now is the best time of your life.

Disappointed? I knew you would be. I remember your being told this frequently and how much you hated it.

It was annoying. The words came from the mouths of those who were discontent with their own lives. Those that wished they could be young again.

Me at 15.

Sure, there are things about your life I miss. But I wouldn’t trade places with you. Which is exactly my point. No matter your age, don’t lose sight of what you have “right now.”

My advice isn’t an issue of youth. It is an issue of time.

I want you to understand that time is one of the most precious things any of us have. Precious because we can’t control it. We can’t manipulate it. We can’t bottle it.

Enjoy it. Soak it in. Use it well. Love it. Stop wishing for something different.

Instead make the most out of what you have right now.

Dont’ miss out on these 4 moments of your life right now.

I know how slow you can be, so let me help you a bit. These will be some of the most important “right now” moments of your teenage life.

1. Your Dad. Four months after you turn 21 your dad will die. I’m sorry. But you do have right now, so enjoy him. Every moment of every day. Enjoy him even when he isn’t enjoyable. Because you will miss him more than I can ever explain.

Enjoy him while he is well. And then enjoy him when he is sick. One day you both realize that he won’t survive, and you will share some of the best moments of your life.

2. Your failed romantic efforts. Enjoy being rejected by all of those girls who won’t give you a second look right now. It hurts now, but that even that “now” is beneficial. Enjoy it because some day, sooner than you would guess, you will discover the most amazing girl in the world. And every girl that told you “no” helped to make this happen. They are all doing you a huge favor.

And get this, you already know her. Crazy huh?

3. Your mistakes. You worry about being right way too much. It isn’t because you love to learn but because you hate being wrong. Get rid of your ego. Raise your hand even if you aren’t 100% certain of the answer and let that moment just be. Try things you aren’t comfortable doing. In fact, the more uncomfortable you are the better.

Right or wrong, you will learn more by focusing on growing in the moment instead of worrying about the outcome.

4. Your faith. You believe the most important thing about God is what you believe about God. Ridiculous. What is most important is what he believes about you. And he loves you. Unconditionally. Passionately. Enough that he would pay a huge price so that you could be with him.

Nothing is more important to him right now than you. He could not love you more than he does right now. Without you earning it. Without you deserving it.

The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will understand what matters most in life. Every “now” will become an opportunity to worship the God who loves you.

Give your life to him. Everything. You won’t regret it.

Sincerely,

30-something you.

P.S. One more random piece of advice. Learn how to design websites. Start one that searches the internet. Call it something weird like “Google.” Just an idea.

What would you tell your teenage self? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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32 Replies

  1. Two things:

    1. 15 year old you is incredible. I want to see those glasses again very soon. You also might need to invest in some Rogaine because the kid has a beautiful head of hair.

    2. This was beautiful and I couldn’t agree more: “You believe the most important thing about God is what you believe about God. Ridiculous. What is most important is what he believes about you.”

    Great letter Jeremy.

  2. ahoak

    I remember that Jeremy. And his dad. Glad to still know the 30-something Jeremy today.

  3. Jeremy, thanks for sharing a thought-provoking post. Not only did it help us understand some of the what, where, when, and why of how you arrived here, but it resonated personally in some surprising ways. As a current “fifty-something” I’d send a message to my thirty year-old self echoing how precious time is, and then I’d direct him to this blog post and encourage him to pay attention to Uncle Jeremy. The advice is timeless. From the four elements, especially the advice on faith, to your PS, you nailed it. Well done.

  4. Thanks so much for joining in, Jeremy. Beautiful letter – great advice.

  5. Krista_DC

    Dear TeenAge Me: Please come back. You were better at this life thing than I am. And . . thanks for all the beautiful memories you stored up!

  6. “Stop wishing for something different”! Best advice for a teenager ever. I regret the time I spent wishing the ‘now’ away, in a rush to gain the elusive future, that I would wish away for something more when I got there. I also had to learn the hard lesson that being right wasn’t what was important, knowing God and loving others trumps being right every time.

  7. I’d tell my 13-year old self to stop worrying what others think about you. Go out and do your own thing. As long as you remain true to yourself.

  8. I had the same opinion of the 15 year old me, but few others did. The glasses were something special. I am still unsure why the lenses turned yellow.

  9. It has been good to be your friend this entire time.

  10. Thanks for the idea and for writing your book.

  11. I’m glad you learned this same lesson as me. It really shows in your life.

  12. I agree. I had that one in there, but cut it out for length.

  13. These are wonderful, and I’ve been seeing them pop up all over. I love the connectedness and purpose that can be seen when looking back over your life’s tragedies and triumphs.

    I would have to add that “you were fearfully and wonderfully created by the Lord your God, don’t ever be ashamed of who you are.”

    Awhile back I also wrote about why right now is the best time of your life – http://colebradburn.com/2012/03/07/why-now-is-the-greatest-time-to-be-alive/

    Thanks Jeremy.

  14. That is a great addition. Thanks for sharing the link, too.

  15. I am still a teenager, so I can’t exactly do this. However, I enjoyed reading your letter. I could relate to many of the things you said.

    Thanks for sharing! I enjoy reading your blog on a regular basis…although I do not get around to commenting much.

    Keep it up!

  16. You just had to rub that one in didn’t you? ; )

  17. Thank you for such a kind comment! God is so gracious to teach us!

  18. It doesn’t matter why they turned yellow. It only matters that you find a new pair exactly like that immediately.

  19. Kevin Raidy

    Laugh and smile every day. Don’t take life so seriously. Travel more. Forgive self.

  20. I’d tell myself that life gets way better and way more challenging. Keep God first in your life and you’ll be okay – no matter what! God has big plans for you.

  21. Good to hear from you, Jon. Your advice to yourself sounds like a guy that just went on a mission trip.

  22. Yes, it’s amazing how something like this can rock your world. I would encourage everyone to consider taking an annual missions trip of some type. These trips certainly can help other people, but they will also force a fundamental shift in your own thinking.

    To anyone wrestling with this, I’d recommend to resources: Wrecked by Jeff Goins and Kingdom Journeys coming soon by Seth Barnes.

  23. Well, I wrote this to my 20 yr old self, but lets face it, 20 yrs old is pretty much a teenager right?

    Don’t do what others tell you to do.Following a path made by others leads to mediocrity.This mediocrity then leads to misery.Discover what really awakens your senses.Do this.Do it until you can’t do it anymore. It will feel better than any drug ever could.Don’t worry about finding a spouse.Readjust your attitude instead of focusing on loneliness, doubts or the future.Open your eyes to your surroundings.Make the most of every moment.Spend more time developing friendshipsand less time wallowing in your self-imposed pity.In ten years, you will be wanting to be 20 again.You will have responsibilities.You will face challenges that you can not begin to fathom.Time is the most precious thing you have.Make the most of it.

  24. And have more clubs where you eat chocolate chip cookies.

  25. Jeremy this is one of my favorite posts.

  26. Thanks for the thoughts! I suggested this to some teachers as a project for teens – Text to your former self. We’re working on some things and I hope to post the results as video.

  27. Sounds like a fun project, Mike.

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