Taken on my actual 16th birthday. That poor boy. 

If I could go back to my 16-year-old self, I’d scream this wise advice in her ear:

  • You are not Selena. There is an unfortunate chunk of high school when you foolishly think long, dark hair, brown eyes and the ability to roll your Rs makes you latina. Loca, no. Brown eye liner should never — ever — be used as lip liner.
  • Fear not, Nordstrom is coming. Your height and feet have been a fashion hinderance since fifth grade, but hold on! Before you know it, you’ll have a size 11 shoe section and a “long and lean” option at the Gap. I promise you, the days of boy’s running shoes are coming to fugly end.
  • Stop reading fashion magazines. Just stop. Those women? They don’t even look like those women. And while you are at it, give up every single “diet” you’ve decided to optimistically conquer. You won’t. And then you’ll feel worse and eat way too much ice cream to cheer yourself up. You are strong. You are athletic. You have muscle and cellulite and this is the way it will always be. Own it.
  • Take yourself less seriously. College is not just one giant exam. Go out. Have fun. Get a fake ID. Take your time. Do not, I repeat, do not think anyone cares about your grades from a tiny state university. They won’t. (Future employers will care if you are well-rounded and able to handle stress.)
  • Wear more moisturizer.
  • Wear less blush.
  • Sometimes it is okay to quit. In fact, sometimes it is the right thing to do. It won’t feel right at the time, but you’ll see.
  • Never be embarrassed for showing your emotion. You can make friends at the grocery store. Enjoy it, and who cares if you are the only one who knows the bagel guy’s birthday?  You love loving people —  the wide, weird variety they may be. And when your friends balk at hugging, or telling you they love you, do so twice. Because you will never — ever — go to the grave with people saying, “Huh. I wonder how she felt?”
  • Never be embarrassed for loving God. Also, know when is the right time to share that love, and when to be quiet and just listen.
  • On that note, speak less. You have never — ever — regretted saying too little.
  • And while we are at it, you have also never — ever — regretted saying no to a round of tequila.
  • You will, my dear, regret many dates. Also, there will be a handful you love so much it hurts to breathe. Those few will make you better. I wouldn’t change any of it.
  • Read more.
  • Shop less.
  • Appreciate the days when you can run without pain. One day, you’ll turn 30 and your right foot will give up. You’ll ache for the days of long, endorphin-fueled runs.
  • Be outside as often as possible.
  • Spend as much time with your grandmothers as you can.
  • Be nicer to your folks. You will spend much of adulthood reminiscing how great your childhood was, and how mind-boggling incredible they are.
ya yas
  • Smile. One day you’ll wake up an have a dozen friends in your pocket who would do anything for you. Most of their families would too. They’ll invite you to stay in their homes — here and 10,000 miles away. They’ll make you godmother of their children. They’ll ask you to marry them. You’ll feel loved every single day by people who don’t have your last name.
  • Be thankful. Sometimes life will suck. Sometimes you’ll pinch yourself, it is going so well. Order another round of tequila, screw regret, and thank God for all of it.

And oh, 16 year old me — you are a shitty, shitty driver. Slow down, pay attention and be kind to the Hornet. It is the coolest car you’ll ever own.


32 flavors and then some, me