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Take Lots Of Pictures

The letter below is part of an ongoing series featuring letters from authors to their teen selves. If you're a published author who'd like to participate in this series, we'd love to have you. Just click here and let us know you're interested. Today's guest is Hilary Hauck, author of From Ashes To Song.


Dear teen self,

This is the “old and wise” you, talking from the future.

What a golden opportunity to reach back in time and enlighten you on what is ahead. A chance to help you make the decisions you will anguish over and tell you what mistakes not to make. I can tell you what love awaits and give you step by step instructions on life.

What a golden opportunity, indeed. And yet, if I did that, life might take a different turn. You/I might not end up in the same place and I could not stand that. What you must know is that you will get to the right place, with the right people, doing what you most love. You will consider yourself blessed.

Hilary as a teen

I know life often feels like more than you can handle, that the mistakes you’ve made and are going to carry on making will feel too great to repair, but you still need to make them. They will eventually come together until one day, you will have learned just the right things, you will have met just the right people, you will live in just the right place.

Perhaps I can make the ride a bit easier by letting you know that you are not invisible. People appreciate you, they see you with much more supportive eyes than you see yourself.

Oh heck, just one cheat. When you get into martial arts, yes, I know, not something on your wish list yet, but you’ll love it and be good at it, know that you can win. Any tournament. Well, maybe not that first fight in Switzerland, but any time after that, each time you believe, you can, so stop doubting yourself. Apply that to life, too.

And stop fretting about your career. Your path was set back in the days of summers spent island hopping in Greece. You’ll get to it eventually. In the meantime, know that it’s okay not to know what you want to do with your life. Don’t hold yourself up in comparison to others. We are all different. Your zigzag career will serve you well once you connect to your true path.

Oh and get a camera! Take heaps of photos. Get a journal, keep track of it all, the good, the bad, the ugly. Know that the things that seem permanent and indelible really aren’t. Not just the tough stuff, but the good times, the happy places you’ll live, the wonderful people you’ll know. Savor them while you have the chance, one day all they’ll be is memories, faces in the photos.

So, young me, buckle up. Don’t question why, given the chance, didn’t I warn you. Trust the process. One last secret—every person on earth makes mistakes. It’s because life is hard. The day you stop beating yourself up and start learning from them—that’s the day everything will change.

See you when you get to where you were always meant to be.

Love you, through good times and bad.


About The Author: Hilary Hauck is the author of From Ashes to Song, her debut novel. She moved to Italy from her native UK as a young adult, where she mastered the language, learned how to cook food she can no longer eat, and won a karate championship. She lives on a small patch of woods in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, one of their three adult children, a cat with a passion for laundry, and an oversized German Shepherd called Hobbes—of the Calvin variety.


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