Becca Wilhite Blog

February 23, 2012

Dear 17-year-old Becca

Filed under: body image,books,history,musings,Uncategorized — becca @ 9:22 am

There are some things I want to say to you, seventeen-year-old me. You’ve had a rough couple of years. You lost your mom. You moved halfway across the country, from the land of many trees and much summer rainfall to the land of many mountains and drastic road construction activities. You gained a new family, and all that implies. You graduated from high school. You are right in the center of Growing Up. But you don’t feel very grown up, do you? Well, I don’t think I can help you there. In about another 17 years, you’ll start to feel that you’re there — a real adult. But for now, here are a few things I wish you could know.

1. You’re not lame. You’re clever. And funny. And kind. Now, don’t get me wrong, you’re no kind of perfect. But you’ll learn, and I wish you could know now, that perfect isn’t an option. Trust me on this. The people that you know who seem perfect? They’re not. There are things that they do really, really well. Notice those things. Pick one to emulate. That’s good for you. Getting good at things is a gift of growing up. There are a few you’ll get good at. In the meantime, don’t beat yourself up about the ones that you can’t do. (p.s. One day in the future, you’ll jog four miles. In a row. No kidding.)

2. I know this is related, but I need you to know this: Confidence is not a gift someone can give you. It’s a reward you have to earn. You need to do something good in order to grow some confidence. And look at you. You do good every day. So feel free to breathe in some of that confidence.

3. I promise that in the next 20 years, nobody is going to attack you in a dark street, a deserted alley, or a stairway. You can let that one go.

4. People who know you? They love you. And like you. Open your eyes. They’re all over the place. Try to believe it.

5. The internet is coming. You will love it. Stuff, knowledge, words, thoughts, pictures. Information, everywhere. And Charlie McDonnell. Oh, smaller Becca. If there was one thing I could send back to you, besides the confidence, it would be Charlie. This one. And this one. And this one, too. Isn’t he adorable?

6. Don’t apologize for the reading. Or the Humanities major. They’ll come in handy.

7. Three little words to produce satisfaction, even happiness: Get Over It. Be forgiving. The sooner the better. Mostly, when someone does something horrible, they didn’t mean it. Unless they did. In which case, get over it faster. Practice this. It gets easier as you go.

8. Don’t feel bad that you don’t share everyone’s love for cheap chocolate candy. Lindt’s Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt is coming. It’s worth waiting for.

9. Sunscreen is probably a good idea. Sorry about that.

10. Look around. See all those people? They’re not thinking about you. Or talking about you. I’m sorry to tell you this, but they didn’t even notice you. That will be the case, um, forever. You are destined to be the Invisible Girl. And you know what? That’s okay. Peace comes through invisibility. Embrace it. And see #4. Still true.

11. Love is everywhere. Choose it. People. Flowers. Books, food, interaction. Choose it.

12. Rejection is destiny. Don’t let it stop you from trying. Really? If I could change anything (else, besides the Charlie and the Confidence) it would be to convince you to try and try and try. The phrase Fake it till you Make it is years away, but for reals: audition again. Ask him out again. Submit it again. Put yourself out there. And listen to Eleanor: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

13. Some things get easier. We grow into our nose. We learn to shake things off. Marriage is awesome, likewise motherhood. Hey, you’re going to be a published author. So pay attention to stuff. You’ll rely on those memories. Try to assume the best. Occasionally you’ll get disappointed. And that’s fine. You’re strong enough to stand up to some occasional disappointment. But assuming the best is hands-down better than the other options.

14. You are not fat, no matter what mean kids say. You are STRONG. You have power. You can walk for hours on those strong legs. Be grateful for the Strong.

15. Enjoy your arms and your ribcage and your neck. They won’t look like that forever.

16. Say yes. When opportunities come, grab them. Go on the trip. Take the job. Make the friend. Accept the date. Some strange things will happen. But someday, all that strangeness will be Material. And Memory. Both good things.

17. Hold on to the things you know. The important ones will continue to be true. And it will make you feel good, one day, to look back and remember that you already knew the important parts.

18. I love you, you know. I never told you that. I don’t know if I believed it. But I do, now. I believe it. You are good. You are smart. You are funny, and witty, and capable. Older You looks back fondly. I hope that means anything.

19. Trust. Yourself. God. People with good intentions. (But mostly those first two.)

20. Keep laughing. Life is funny. Irony is everywhere. And laughing is good for you.


  1. Dear 17-year-old Becca,

    You turn out really, really awesome. If you could see how cool you will be someday, you’d walk really tall.

    Comment by Steph @ Diapers and Divinity — February 23, 2012 @ 9:33 am

  2. Aw! I love it. You did turn out really, really awesome. And so cool, too!

    Comment by Carolyn V — February 23, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  3. […] Head on over there to read my guest post and leave her some comment love! While you’re there, read today’s blog post from Becca. It’s fantastic. No related posts. Posted in Becoming|Ramblings « Photo Shoot | Class […]

    Pingback by Analysis Paralysis » Macy Robison | Photographer, Performer, Mommy | Austin, TX — February 23, 2012 @ 11:06 am

  4. Dear 17 Year-Old Becca,

    You grow up to be an Inspiring Becca. And one I like to read stuff from. And one who raises kids that I think are amazing.

    P.s. Your daughters end up looking just like you.

    Comment by Jackie — February 23, 2012 @ 11:58 am

  5. I’m not at what point during this post I started crying. Possibly at the part about the dark chocolate with sea salt, because I am so there with you. By the end? I was wiping away the tears. There are a few things I wish I could tell my 17 year old self too. Thank you for this inspiration to reflect!

    Comment by Jayne — February 23, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

  6. I think this should have been titled, “Dear 33-year-old Annie…” And Charlie? How have I missed all that???

    PS – I will have your super late and hopefully not lame post ready when you need it, just give me another chance…

    Comment by annie valentine — February 23, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

  7. Dear 17 year old Becca. I love you, too. Because you made Older Becca. And I freaking adore her.

    Comment by L.T. Elliot — February 23, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

  8. Don’t you wish we could go back and do it with the knowledge we have now? Well, maybe not.

    Off to Google Charlie McDonnell

    Comment by Susan Auten — February 23, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

  9. You are a wise, wise woman. I’m trying to teach my 12-year-old that lesson about confidence, but he doesn’t really enjoy doing hard things. Love so much of what you said here.

    Comment by Melanie Jacobson — February 23, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

  10. My comment got eaten: short version, I love this post.

    Comment by Melanie Jacobson — February 23, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

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