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?


It was 75 degrees today! You know what that calls for? A shandy! I think my new summer go-to drink is going to be mixing Sunshine Wheat Beer (my favorite New Belgium brew) with Lemonade. When I asked Dylan what mix he used he suggested 56% lemonade, 44% beer. No joke. Good luck figuring those measurements out. Anyway, I highly recommend the drink. We had burgers for dinner, and my little summer drink, and the weather promised a bit of a spring teaser that makes me so excited that Spring and Summer are coming. Its been a long, cold winter.

Summer Shandy

Don’t worry. Just one is mine.

And…… today was Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s. Who doesn’t love ice cream? And FREE ice cream at that. If that’s not a beautiful thing, I’m not quite sure what is. I really enjoyed my free cone of Coconut Seven Layer Bar. If you didn’t take advantage of Free Cone Day, you missed out. What was more enjoyable, though, was the waiting in line for 30 minutes. No, I’m not being sarcastic, I really liked it. It was nice to stand outside in shorts and chat with my parents, and Dylan and the little boy behind us in line. It was fun to people watch and see how a community comes out when the weather warms up and a free treat is waiting. Musicians were playing, the sun was setting; this was the place to be.

In my people watching, I saw a group of high school girls wearing Poudre Tennis gear and my heart swelled. Now the reason behind this excitement requires a little bit of back story. I am one of those girls who obnoxiously loved high school. I loved studying, I loved being at school, I loved doing sports, and being in choir, and when I wasn’t doing those things I was with the same 15 kids pretty much all the time. Thinking back retrospectively, I often wonder if I was so happy because I was in the right clique, and sometimes I wonder if I was mean to those I went to high school with. I hope not. But you know what they say, “If you think cliques didn’t exist, you probably were in one.” If I was mean to you, I’d like to apologize.

Part of what made my high school experience so wonderful though, was that tennis team. I was one of those giggly, seemingly annoying girls who was SO proud to wear my blue tennis skirt and home made puff painted t-shirts with the silly nicknames on the back. I was lucky enough to play on the team with the same girls for three years. We did EVERYTHING together – we had sleepovers, study parties at Starbucks, the staff at Chipotle probably hated us, and my coach was a wonderful, tough love kind of woman whom I still respect.

Regional Win

My best friends and I after we won the Regional Title in 2007. I’m in the center.

Aren’t those shirts embarrassing? That year, our Science Bowl team won the National Competition. Ok, we were also nerds. Big Nerds. It is neat to still live in the same town where I grew up, and I’m thankful I can have a little bit of alumni pride. We are the only Impalas in the nation you know. So where does the beauty in this nostalgia lie? My heart strings were tugged tonight because I sometimes miss that time of my life, where success came as easy as an A on a paper, a sweet tennis serve, a high five in the hallway on the way to class.

What is even better than feeling nostalgic tonight is knowing that these girls are still some of my very best friends. Yes, we went to college in different states, dated different boys, and made some of our own choices. Yes, now we have scattered and distance and life experience have changed each of us in different ways- two are in Africa serving in the Peace Corps, one is married and  owns a home, one is living in Fort Collins and one in Denver. Our communication comes less frequently, sometimes every few months, sometimes more than that. But this week, I also get the pleasure of inviting each of them to my wedding. One of them is standing up as my bridesmaid, and one will be returning from Sierra Leone for my special day. Those days of tennis skirts, and prom dates have passed us by, but those roots are so important to me. This group is so foundational to who I have become and my perspective on this planet.


Here are some of us on Wedding Day number one

Sometimes, I feel a little bit insecure because I am entirely happy living in the town that I grew up in. I’m a little afraid you are reading this and thinking, “sheesh, – she still hangs out with those girls?” Maybe I should be out exploring the world, traveling, testing my boundaries. But the beauty in “being Katie” as author Gretchen Rubin would put it, is that I know that what makes other people happy doesn’t necessarily have to make me happy. And tonight, I am thankful for friends who, against the odds, still remain a significant part of my life. I am thankful I live in a beautiful, wonderful town that I continue to enjoy. I am thankful for roots. And thankful for the beauty in free ice cream.