Dear 16-Year-Old Me

Dear 16-year-old Caroline…

It’s me, A.K.A. you, but 11 years older and a whole lot wiser. First off, stop going in tanning beds right this minute and don’t let anyone talk you into getting bangs. Just trust me. With that out of the way, here are a few other things to keep in mind as you navigate the insane world of high school, college, and early adulthood. Seriously, even if you don’t take advice from anyone else, listen to some advice from YOUR DAMN SELF.

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Find What Resonates

A while ago, after I posted my 1,000 Days of Sobriety blog post, a friend made the comment along the lines of, “Thank God you’re an alcoholic so you have something to write about.” I was a little offended – my husband was a lot offended, bless him – but I mostly brushed it off… that person kind of had a point.

It’s planted a little self-doubt in my head, though. Am I beating a dead horse? Yes, Caroline, you’re sober. YAY YOU! Move along. Should I really write about it so much? Why do I feel so called to share?

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Champagne Toasts

Alcoholism, or any addiction really, is an insane thing. No matter how chaotic life is or how glaringly bad the problem gets, you can’t see the mess until you’re out of it. You’ll make excuse after excuse, rationalize the most irrational things, and pretend everything is completely fine. Until you finally, finally get the gift to see that it’s not. It’s not fine, it hasn’t been fine, and something needs to change.

One day, when I was 24 and sitting in group therapy, I had a strange internal dialogue. A woman was speaking to the group. She was much older than me, a divorcee with a string of DUIs and a broken family. She had been drinking for longer than I had been alive. A thought popped into my head.

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5 Things I’ve Learned (and Loved) About Being Engaged

When we got engaged in November, a lot of people told me to ~enjoy this special time~ and soak it all in. To be honest, I usually rolled my eyes when I heard that. I was pretty open about wanting a shorter engagement and simply wanting to be married. I don’t like planning things – seriously, I freeze up if I have to pick a restaurant for a girl’s dinner – and to me, “being engaged” just meant “planning a wedding.”

With eleven days to go until the BIG DAY (!!!), I am happy to report that these past ten months were a lot more special than I anticipated, and I learned a lot more than just how to create a wedding seating chart. Here are the top five.

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Lukewarm Is No Good

“I began to realize how important it is to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all, become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.” –Roald Dahl

A few weeks ago, my friend Kelly Boylan invited me to be a part of an amazing project called “I’ve Got Your Back.” To say I was thrilled is an understatement. Kelly is incredibly talented and I had already binge read all of her IGYB interviews before she asked me to be a part of it. In Kelly’s words, “I’ve Got Your Back” is “inspired by my own journey with self-acceptance. It’s inspired by my feminist beliefs and a desire to build sisterhood and community. It’s inspired by the beautiful women in my life. Each woman photographed is an inspiration in her own way.”

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Teaching People How To Treat You

Yesterday, I had two conversations that stuck with me. They were completely different, but they both put me in that introspective mood that had my wheels turning all night.

The first conversation was with a woman who was upset with her boyfriend. His social media usage (specifically towards other women) bothered her, but she didn’t want to seem petty or “psycho” by asking him to stop liking/commenting/following other women on his various apps.

The second conversation was with a friend who had received an uncomfortable and hurtful comment about her body. She brushed it off at the time because the situation was so unpleasant, but privately she was in complete distress over it.

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A Life-Affirming Bachelorette Weekend

When I think “bachelorette party,” I think tequila shots, Bride sashes, bikinis, and phallic-shaped accessories – probably not amazing epiphanies and healing revelations. I had my bachelorette this past weekend, though, and I had all of the above (minus the tequila, thank God). If you follow me on social media, you know we checked off every cliché in the book: the tiara, the sash, the matching swimsuits, the posed group photos. It was a fun weekend for everyone. For ME, it was something I really, really, really needed.

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