Blissful Belle

Be Happy, Feel Beautiful

Dear 16-Year-Old Me: Helena Wahlstrom

Dear 16-year-old-me will feature BB writers’ and readers’ personal letters to their younger selves. If you’re interested in having your letter published on Blissful Belle, send us an email to

Dear 16-year-old me,

I want you to take a breath, close your eyes and hold this thought close to your heart: it sucks right now. I know it does. But it won’t suck forever.

I know right now you are scrambling to make it through your days, your body, mind and soul filled with the monstrous anxiety of youth. Breathe. It won’t always be this way.

I also know the big secret that will elude you for many, many years to come as you trip and you fall and you cry and make many, many mistakes: running and hiding won’t help. You must open up to the world – yes, even to the pain it always brings – and dare to shine. This will be exceedingly difficult. But it will be worth it.

As for mistakes – make them. Embrace them. Keep your smarts, because I know you have them, but beyond that, make your stupid mistakes. As all the clichés and maxims tell you, they are the path to life. Even better, they are life itself. They are the things you will look back on years from now and finally recognize as profoundly important turning points. But some of them, the ones you will make out of fear, the ones that have more to do with avoiding life than living it, will linger there in the history of your life as missed opportunities, blank spots, might-have-beens. What I am telling you is that it is not possible to make it through the years you have in front of you without failing a little, without hurting a lot. That is fine. But make it so that your pain and your happiness are brought on by your perpetual upstream struggle, not a placid float down the river.

Right now you are convinced that being different is the cruelest kind of curse. It can be, and in ways it will always remain so. But don’t accept it. Don’t buy into it. Insist on being yourself, because secretly everyone is as crazy and broken and silly as you. Show them how it’s done. Your life will be better for it.

You will not do any of this without bravery. In the coming years, you will be brave beyond measure without feeling any of it. You are brave just for making it through each of your ridiculous wonderful terrifying days of youth. Give yourself credit. I know you won’t. But try.

I won’t tell you to not let anyone break your heart. Heartbreak can be good for you. You will learn. You will end up on new paths. What I will say instead is this: don’t hang your self-worth on someone else’s approval. Approve of yourself first. Love yourself first. I understand the enormity of these suggestions: you will have use of them forever.

Keep breathing, dreaming, jumping in head-first. Figure it out as you go. Know that though it sucks and not entirely because of you, it’s up to you to change it. Everything you need you already have. Be out there. Be you. Everything else will follow.

Also, go to your damn dance lessons.

With all the love you never gave yourself,



One comment on “Dear 16-Year-Old Me: Helena Wahlstrom

  1. Natalie
    July 19, 2011

    How lovely your writing is and how true your words. The world would be a different place indeed, were we all given the chance to speak to our young selves! Or, perhaps, the very nature of youth dictates that it wouldn’t change much at all….can’t tell a sixteen year old girl a god damned thing, after all. 😉 I continue to be absolutely crazy about your writing…keep it up, we should all be so blessed with such talent! – Nat

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This entry was posted on July 18, 2011 by in Bliss, Happy Belle and tagged , , , , .
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