An Open Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

This past week I went home to Houston, and found a random letter waiting for me on my dresser. The return address was one I didn’t recognize, and I was confused until I opened the envelop and saw the terrible handwriting that could only be my own.

It was a letter that I had written in my third-period English class when I was a senior in high school, in 2013. My teacher had each of her students write a letter to our future selves, and promised to send them to us in 4-5 years after we graduated. I talked about what was going on at that moment in my life. I was on my way to graduation, and I talked (okay, actually kind of bragged) about dates I had been on, friends I had just made, and what I had accomplished so far. It was kind of embarrassing. I’m not sure I knew what the purpose of this letter was then. I can only assume it was meant to inspire, or encourage, or to just show our future selves what we were like in high school.

But, mine was like, extremely embarrassing and hilarious.

I have a few things to say to 18-year-old Tori. I doubt I would have listened. But, I definitely thought I knew everything at 18 (also, just a disclaimer, current, 23-year-old Tori doesn’t know everything either, she only recently learned how to do this weird chicken-foil-packet-cooking thing in the oven, and it wasn’t even that good).

Dear 18-year-old Tori,

Hey girl. First before I say anything, please stop wearing those extensions on the random occasion. They look okay but, learn to love your hair, take care of it, and stop straightening it so much. Now that’s clearly the most important thing I had to say, so everything else is really just fluff. You can stop reading if you want.

So, I’m writing this with a few thoughts from your older self. I can’t say that I’ve figured out life, or anything. But, I finally carry jumper cables in my car, so I’m obviously an adult and know what I’m talking about.

Learn how to make a meal, that’s not a sandwich, good God, chick. 

It makes you feel accomplished, domestic, and like you could be on Chopped. Also, sandwiches are honestly kind of gross, so, please stop.

Figure out what matters to you, establish your opinions, and stick to your guns.

Rocking the boat can be scary, and the fear of not being liked is too. But, being a chicken about not standing your ground on what you believe in is embarrassing, and much worse. Also figure out what clothes are flattering on you and ones that aren’t (i.e. maybe extra large t-shirts aren’t the best thing to wear every day. Maybe wear something else?)

Buy yourself flowers.

What I’m saying is choose yourself. Don’t wait for a friend or a guy to affirm you. Do it for yourself. Buy yourself flowers, take baths, clean your room instead of going out, choose yourself.

Think before you spend.

Going out to eat is easy, because you don’t have to make food for yourself, but it’s the reason for your freshman 20. Which brings me to my next point.

For the both of us, lay off the queso.

I actually think that’s the reason for the 20 lbs.

Know something about almost everything.

-and when you don’t know something about a subject, learn.

You don’t “spend” time. You invest it. 

You energy is valuable. Your time is valuable. Spending time, sounds like throwing it away. Investing time, means that you’re receiving something while you put out effort. Invest in friends that you want to keep, listen to them, be interested, and love them. Invest in studying because grades are important- and when they’re good you also feel great. Invest in your family, because these years of being in college, and getting to come home often are so special.

Don’t just know Jesus.

It took me a while to figure out what it looked like to know Jesus, but one of the things I learned over the years was the vast difference in being a Christian and being a follower. Loving Jesus is easy. But, trusting, chasing, listening, and following Him is a different ball game. It is hard. But, it is real, better, and gives you life.

The Lord honors the deepest desires of our hearts. Stop looking and stop worrying.

This is something that I’m still working on. Like I said, it’s hard. But, those things that you want more than anything? Your Heavenly Father knows them- He planted them in you, and He wants you to have it. But, you have to let Him give it to you. Don’t try and beat Him to the punch- do you really think you can find something better than Jesus? Do you think God needs help doing something for you?

Who cares, who cares, who cares?

Who cares what people will think, who cares what you look like, who cares if you mess up? Be sure of yourself, even when you mess up. Don’t half-ass it for fear of looking silly.

You love to think short-term.  It’s weird, but there’s something to love about that. You’re a little impulsive, and don’t think about risks all the time. You like to fall. Don’t change who you are to be loved, don’t let yourself walk alone in hard seasons, be mad when you want, but know that joy is in your genes, and choosing joy is everything. Choosing joy is hard sometimes. But lucky for you, it’s a little easier than most people. Be fizzy, be silly, be loud, be tender hearted, and don’t dim yourself for anyone.

Please don’t eat queso so much. Please. It’s literally melted cheese.

I’m still figuring it out too. It’s hard. But, I love you. It’ll be okay.

– Your 23-year-old self who still manages to burn microwave popcorn at least once, before making it correctly.


It’s wordy. It’s a lot. It’s just like me.

School has started, and it’s the last year of college for me. It’s weird, and kind of scary. But, I’m here for it.

Happy Tuesday, y’all.



  1. Reply

    Good god… you are just 23!
    That sounded like lessons from someone who has figured a lot out!
    It would have been nice though if you and I could both read it while we were still 18, but I am glad it’s not too late just yet. Great post! 🙂


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