What Would Your 16 Year Old Self Say?

Thank you Facebook, for sharing memories with us every so often.

You know what I’m talking about – when the picture shows up at the top of your feed, only for you, for you to choose to share memories from ages ago.

Well this afternoon I was scrolling through my feed I was tickled by this photo that one of my acquaintances had posted from over ten years ago.

We had just earned second place at the Regional Tennis Match.


Take a moment, try to identify me.

I just couldn’t stop looking at this photo. We look so little- in our cozy high school cocoon of academics and after-school sports. Our biggest stresses were grades and championship matches. We were so fresh to life – protected, loved, achievers. Boy was I an achiever.

And as I stared and stared at the photo, my thoughts trickled to this blog post which my mentor Teresa Funke wrote just this last week about expectations. My coaches here were the ones who believed in me before I ever did – I still attribute much of my success during that time frame to them.

And then I asked myself, “Would 16 year old Katie pictured here be proud of me today?” Would she think she lived up to her expectations? Would these coaches think that I’ve lived up to their expectations?

It’s an uncomfortable prospect for an overachiever like me, to think that I’ve maybe let some wise leaders in my life down. When I was 16 and that photo was taken I was going to go to a private liberal arts school, go travel the world, go to grad school, get the heck out of Fort Collins and show them all!

I tried liberal arts school and I hated it – I couldn’t stop crying so I came home and went to “State” school.

I left town and came running back at break neck speed – this town, this community is my home.

I married my college sweetheart and live twenty minutes away from my childhood home.

I have had a lot of jobs and most recently am in a career spot I never would have anticipated.

I think my 16 year old self would maybe be a little shocked by how her expectations have shifted, changed, and evolved.

Yet, as I sat at my desk this afternoon, still starting at the photo, I was thinking about just how important it is to be proud of myself – despite the detours, despite the frustrations, despite life-altering loss.

Expectations are wonderful, but not when they are harming your self-esteem and your self-worth. Instead, I want to be proud of my choices that I made that have led me to this point. To bask in the feeling of permission to take risks, double-back, fail a little, and still return to the practice of loving myself that sometimes gets muddied when I play the perfectionist game.

There is so much beauty in being proud of yourself. 

There are emails floating around about a ten year high school reunion – I see these and my stomach groans a little bit. No, I’m not a doctor, and I don’t have letters behind my name, and I haven’t lived abroad or in cities, like many of my classmates, but I am running my own race.

In the last ten years I’ve worked for nonprofits, raised money, changed lives. I’ve written this blog, became a wife, been a daughter to a grieving widow. Been a sister, a friend, a baker, a puppy owner. My choices may not have led me to my original expectations, but I can still stand and be proud of where I am today.

I was talking with my mom a few weeks ago about our very strong desire to be seen – for our talents and accomplishments and contributions to go noticed in the workplace and beyond. I don’t think that desire changes as we age.

Can we combine others expectations for us with those of our own and stand and say, “Why yes, I’m pretty damn proud of the choice to keep expecting to love myself through it all!”?

I agree with Teresa when she says, “So when you see talent, call it out. You may provide just the right amount of encouragement to a fellow artist when he/she needs it most. And when someone shows faith in you, don’t dismiss it. Sometimes others know better than we do of what we are capable!”

We never know how we are influencing the lives of others.

Can you be brave enough to return to seeing these things in yourself? Can you remember to hold onto your own faith in you? Would your 16 year old self be proud?

Take Pride in How Far You Have Come

You know that feeling when you set a goal and you accomplish it? How does that make you feel? At first I thought I’ve sort of been one to shy away from making goals – fear of failure, fear of risk, fear of discomfort-not quite sure. New Year’s Resolution season is upon us and goal setting is all around (that’s why I’m avoiding the gym this week people! How many weeks do they go until falling off the bandwagon. I want a spot back in yoga please.)  However, when I stop and think back about goals I have set for myself over the years I smile with a small sense of pleasure in my own, surprising determination.

I’m 10 years old and my dad promises me he will give me a dollar for each chapter book I read so that I can have some spending money for our upcoming trip to Disney World. I read 102 chapter books and got some sweet souvenirs.

I’m 16 years old and want an off period in high school. I know, in order to achieve that and avoid dreaded gym class, I have to participate in not one, but two school sports. Focus in on the only other non-cut sport offered and I found myself on the cross country team. I ran each race and quite often finished as the last participant on my team (NO not last, last – just last of the Impalas). I did it though, I ran. Running is hard.

I’m 18 years old and spend most of my first semester of college crying. No, not just crying, bawling my eyes out, not eating, obsessively thinking about a return to Colorado. I dropped out of a small liberal arts school, but made the goal to attend state school. Even amidst terrorizing fear that led to weight loss and trouble sleeping, I took brave small steps to re-enroll in school. I went home each weekend for most of college, but I did it. I did my laundry too.

I’m 23 years old and know in my heart that working for a non-profit must become a reality. Again, through perhaps many stomach aches and trouble sleeping I found a way to return to an organization where I believe very much in the mission and heart of the work we do each day. My resume is diverse from bouncing around in jobs, but my heart was a straight-line to accomplishing a very long term dream.

I realize that I do set goals, and work to achieve the ones that I want. None of this pithy weight loss, make more friends, find a husband, build a career blah, blah, blah goals. Not to discount those working on those goals currently. These, quite honestly, are areas I too have struggled and continue to think about. I just want goals that are more realistically attainable for me. I think we put too much pressure on perfection, on areas to improve and once again set ourselves up for a continuous cycle of “OH MY GOSH I’M JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH” . You can read more about my thoughts on that topic in my previous post “Stop Trying to Improve”. I don’t want to do that for 2015.

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*Spoiler alert – here comes my 2014 reflecting*  As I look back on the year behind us I am proud of some of the goals I achieved. WordPress emails out these handy Annual Reports with stats and demographics all about your views and comments and “how good you were at blogging”. I’m not sure if I’m good at this per se’. I have no advertising (interested – I want you!) I only have 3700 views and a few new followers a week. I’m no world wide sensation but I did get views from over 52 countries. I’ll try not to think too long about that. That one kinda weirds me out. I published 53 posts! I met my goal for 2014. I have been able to connect with other women who are similar to me in uncanny ways. This has been a space to heal and express and ask and find some peace and gratitude. I’m proud of myself.

We planned a wedding, I got married, I have grown in a job that continues to challenge me. I’m learning to be a wife, a daughter and a friend all in new contexts. I traveled a little and I read some books. I am not sure what 2015 has in store.

Here are some achievable goals that I hope to accomplish for 2015. Don’t laugh.

1) Continue this blog. I like this adventure more than I thought I would

2) Paint my nails each week. Isn’t a manicure nice. I have SO much Essie nail polish and not enough time to keep up my hands. I’m going to try it. Maybe I’ll share my colors each week. 52 weeks of Essie.

3) Keep chugging on towards my goal of 20,000 pages to read. Hurry up with this Katie. You have reading to do!

4) Travel – even if it is little weekend adventures try to go to a few new places.

5) Make more biscotti. Biscotti is delicious.

6) Continue to be open to what the universe has to offer. Even if that means you encounter hard or challenging opportunities to grow or change or adopt new patterns, build new relationships, or close some out. It is a grand adventure isn’t it.


I believe there is beauty in accomplishing goals big and small. Beauty in being proud of yourself. Beauty in setting realistic limits and expectations. Do you have big goals or little goals for 2015? Do you like resolutions? Are you mad too because the gym is so damn crowded?