Dear 16 year old me,

I would start by asking how life has been treating you, but since I’m you, I already know.

I know that life pretty much blows right now and you can’t seem to find the positive or see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why I’m writing you this letter, because there are some things you really need to know…

You know that boy (whom shall remain nameless) that ripped your heart out, threw it on the ground and walked all over it? Well…you move on. I know, I know…it doesn’t feel like it now. It feels raw and painful and you had no idea your heart could actually ache this bad. And to be completely honest, it’s going to hurt for a long time. You’ll try and deal with the pain in some harmful ways. Word to the wise: don’t. He’s not worth the extra pain. After a year, two years, three years…the pain just sort of melts away. Those memories that once made your heart flutter, turn into distant thoughts that you can’t seem to remember anymore and when you see him on the street, he’s no longer someone you used to love, he’s just another boy.

I promise.

When you first get your license, don’t text and drive. If you do, you end up totaling your new red jeep and your neighbor’s car…6 hours post-license. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but if you refuse to listen, you will be shamelessly mocked by the townspeople of Minden for years to come. Besides, the guy you’re texting isn’t “the one,” so it’s not really worth the damage to your new car or your ego. Keep your cool flip phone in your purse, your eyes on the road and save yourself from the long boring lecture dad gives you about being ‘responsible.’  

I know you’re still really upset about losing grandpa. It’s been a couple years, but it still feels fresh. I also know you feel guilty that you didn’t see him enough and that you were afraid to say a long goodbye at the hospital. I understand that it was hard to see him so sick. However, a couple good things come out of this. Grandpa Jim becomes your sole inspiration for college education. You keep a picture of him on your desk at all times to remind you to work hard and never give up, just like he did. You also learn from him passing that you want to go into healthcare. You took that guilt you felt and turned it into a positive in your life. You made it a goal to never let anyone die alone. If no else is going to be there, you will. Grandpa knew you loved him and he understood that it was difficult. So, use that time in your life to make a change in someone else’s.

While we’re on the subject of your college education, I want you to REALLY think about what you want to do in life. I want you to make two lists: one for your dream jobs and one for your realistic jobs. Now, you need to pick a reality and then chase a dream. Dreams are important, but you need money and a career to follow them. That being said, there is nothing wrong with putting those dreams on hold and doing something else first. I can tell you now, at 22, that you finally achieve both, the career and the dream.

I have some excellent news for you! You know how you’re kinda chubby and can’t seem to cut the weight? Well, by some miracle, you lose it all freshman year of college. Honestly, I have no idea how. You cool it with all the mountain dew, but that’s about it. So please, for the love of our Lord and Savior, stop with the unhealthy weight loss tricks. Those ‘miracle pills’ you try senior year will only make you pass out and feel like crap. And trying not to eat anything except celery for days, just makes you really hungry and angry. (Or hangry, as I like to say now) EAT A BURGER, WOMAN. Enjoy that fast metabolism while you still have it. (I think it’s starting to wither away now…sad.)

Keeping with the self-image talk, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, your acne FINALLY goes away. The bad news is, you have to be on expensive prescription face wash to make that happen. So remember to always have health insurance or else you can’t afford it. But trust me, it works really well. Even if it smells like sulfur. As mom always says, beauty is pain.

You will save yourself a lot of a stomach aches if you learn a very important lesson early. So listen very carefully little 16 year old me. Trust God. It’s that simple. You have a serious problem with needing to be in control. That’s why you always feel so anxious and make yourself sick. It takes you about 4 years to figure this one out. I hate to break it to ya, but you are not in control. God is. And He’s way better at it than you. So let go. Once you learn how to trust, life becomes a lot simpler. And you stop getting sick, so that’s a plus.

Mom and Allie are not the worst. You are. I understand that it feels like they never get you, and they’re always out to sabotage your life, but they really aren’t. Allie matures and grows into a beautiful, caring, funny woman. (Shocking, I know) And mom is just trying to help you avoid making the same mistakes she did. So instead of thinking you know it all, just shut up and listen to her. And while you’re making life changes, quit picking fights with Allie. She’s the only sister you have. It’s like a built in BFF. Use that to your advantage and start sharing clothes.

Most importantly, don’t quit speech. I know you feel like its lame and none of your friends are doing it, but stick with it. (Also, convince Bailee to stick with it too.) Speech team turns out to be the greatest thing you ever did. You wanna know why? That’s how you meet your husband! I KNOW, RIGHT?! Who would’ve thought?! So when you go to that meet in Gothenburg, dress really pretty and actually do your hair, you lazy girl! Because you happen to be in the same first round as Robert Kring. He does way better than you, you forget your lines in front of him and he laughs a little. BUT, after the round is over, you have to gather up all the courage you have and say hi to him. Because THAT is the beginning of the best thing to ever happen to you.

Well little girl, I could go on and on with all the advice I wish I would’ve had back then, but some lessons you have to learn on your own. Keep your head up, high school doesn’t last forever and college is where you bloom, my friend. If I can leave you with some parting words: Love simply, forgive quickly, and walk by faith each day.

Katherine Kring

My name is Katherine Kring, although most people call me Kaile. You can blame my parents for the confusing two name situation. I was born in Lincoln, NE and raised in Minden, a small farming community in central Nebraska. I have adorably, in love parents and two siblings, one older brother and one younger sister. Growing up it was apparent that I was kind of the odd man out. Both of my siblings are very blonde, athletic and competitive...and then there's me. I enjoy singing, theater, speech, writing, and reading. And unfortunately, do not have blonde hair. After high school, I ventured off to the big city of Omaha, NE where my, then boyfriend, was stationed with the Airforce (He is now my Airforce husband and I have since followed him to Ohio.) I attended Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health in Omaha and pursued a career in Respiratory Care. I now get to have the initials RRT after my name because I am officially a Registered Respiratory Therapist. My hubby and I live in Ohio with our two crazy, hyper dogs. We love to binge watch netflix, go antiquing, and travel. I also love my Lord, Jesus Christ and enjoy attending our church and reading my bible.