02 03 The Rhineheart Roost: A letter to my thirsty 16-year-old self. 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

A letter to my thirsty 16-year-old self.

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Dear 16-year-old Haeley:

First off, happy birthday! If I haven't told you yet, you're beautiful. I know that sometimes you hate looking at yourself, but believe me. It's true. And trust me, you'll only get prettier from here! I mean, look at me now. I'm (we? You? Us?) a babe now. ;^)

Okay, okay. That's not why I'm writing to you today. I have a purpose, I promise. You see, I just got off the phone with Geneal, our beautiful, precious sister (do you know how lucky you are to have a sister like her? Because she's amazing. Never forget that), and she was telling me all about Homecoming and how great it was. Eventually, our conversation wandered off into where it usually goes: boys and relationships, and she brought up something I have been thinking about for a while.

She talked about how much of a relief it was to not have a boyfriend right now. You've told yourself time and again how glad you are that you don't have a boyfriend, but you've never really believed it. Don't try to deny it, sweetie. I know you want a boyfriend so badly you can taste it. The thing is, you're in high school. You're a sophomore, and I don't care how mature you think you are, the thing is, you are so unbelievably young. You don't even have your license yet! (Don't panic. You'll get it in March, and you will get terribly lost just a few days after receiving it. But your dad will call and help you find your way home. Aren't dads just the best?) You haven't experienced hardly anything in life. Why would you want a boyfriend right now?

I know how it feels to want to be loved. I'm still you, remember? I'm just a little bit older and (at least in my 18-year-old opinion) a little bit wiser than you are at this point. Our craving for someone to love and care for hasn't changed; in fact I would go so far as to say it's only gotten stronger. But that's because I am finally at a point in my life where seeking male companionship is acceptable and okay.

Haeley, you've read For the Strength of Youth before. Countless times. You always flip to the Dating section, because you love reading about it. All your life you've looked forward to dating! And trust me, it is so much fun. Dating is one of my favorite things about life! But you need to be careful. I can't stress it enough. Boyfriends are so great. They will make you feel on top of the world! At least, that's what I've been told. At this point I'm still dating around. Don't get too excited just yet. ;^) But just know that the prophets know exactly what they're doing when they advise us to not only hold off on relationships until we're out of high school, but to only go on group dates. TRUST THEM. Does it seem like a total buzzkill to have to wait to single date and have a boyfriend? Yep. Not gonna lie. But it's so worth it to look back and not have any regrets. You have no idea.

Now, just because you're not going to have a boyfriend in high school does not mean you're going to escape without heartbreaks along the way. You will have your heart broken. And it will hurt more than you ever thought it could, and it will hurt for a very long time. But you will be better for it. Heartbreak sucks, but it's such a good growing experience. Never say to yourself that the boy wasn't worth it. Everybody is worthy of love, and even though it hurts, don't stop giving it.

Love is always the answer, whether it involves boys or not. Never believe you weren't worth it. You are worthy of love. And just because a boy hurts you doesn't mean you're worthless. Keep your head up and keep loving. You were given a heart that naturally wants to love. Don't hold that back. Let everyone know you care about them, because this world needs more love.

And dances? Dances are every bit as fun as you think they're going to be. Granted, there will be a few that will not be fun, and you will cry over them on more than one occasion, but the good ones will more than make up for them. Go all out! You're a babe.

You're worried about so many things. You're worried about impressing boys, and being as attractive as possible to them. You're worried nobody will ever ask you out. You're worried your weight will act as a barrier between you and all potential crushes. You're worried your hair needs to be a certain length, or your clothes need to hang a certain way, or your first kiss is going to be a total disaster.

Haeley, here's the thing:

Stop worrying so much about boys. Love your life! Embrace who YOU are, and what makes you so special. Your time will come. I'll make sure to write you again when we find Mr. Right. ;^)

I love you! I hope you have a wonderful birthday.
Love, 

~Haeley

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