Articles 6831443959_ac70a01199_z

Published on October 10th, 2016 | by Joy Swen

What I Would Tell My 12-Year-Old Self




“Dear younger me
where do I start?
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running through my head
I wonder who much different things would be
Dear younger me”

If you wanted to prepare your younger self for your teenage years, what would you tell them?

If you wrote a “Dear younger me,” letter, what would you say?

For some reason this song hit home for me. Every time I heard it I’d ask myself the same question, “What would I say?”

With my little sister turning 12 in a couple of days I racked my mind about what to give her. And I realized the biggest thing I could give her is all the things I wish I knew when I was 12.

The years between 12 and 17 were some of my most difficult years thus far. Most of it was wrought with fear and dread. To this day I still wish I could forget many of those moments.

As my younger sister turns 12, I watch her growing up and I don’t want her to go through what I did when I was her age. So for her birthday I wrote her a letter.

“Dear Little Sister, in the following pages you will find all the wisdom and advice I wish I knew when I was 12-years-old.”

That letter is made up of Bible verses combined with things I knew when I was 12. If I had known these things, maybe my days wouldn’t have been so dark. My goal in the letter is to mentor my younger sister and help her develop into a godly young lady.

In a few days she’ll open that letter and read about God’s love, Jesus’s sacrifice, and how to live for Christ. And as she grows into a teenager I have made a commitment to help her grow up in the faith and know how to live for God’s glory. I know helping her and guiding her this way won’t always be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

“Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” — Titus 2:6-8

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” — Colossians 3:16

We are told repeatedly in Scripture to teach one another and help each other grow in the faith.

So what would you say? Go back in time to four, six, or eight years ago and think about you then. What would you want them to know? Pick up a pen and paper and write at the top, “Dear younger me.”

Now here’s a challenge for you:

Once you’ve written that letter put it in an envelope and place it somewhere you can see it.

Every time you see the letter, pray that God will send you someone you can mentor. Maybe it’s a younger sibling, a friend, or a young person at your church.

Be patient; God will show you the one for you to mentor.

Mine happened to be a young girl I’ve taken in as a younger sister, though not officially. God clearly showed me I can help this girl and make a difference in her life.

Look around, there are countless children and young people who are needing advice on how to grow up. They’re needing love and someone to help them mature.

Once you see who you can help, take that letter and rewrite it. Write it to the young person you want to mentor and guide through the next few years. And make a commitment to help this person to grow up in a godly manor.

Imagine the difference that we could make if young people turned around and helped guide those younger than us. I’m only barely 17, yet I’m going to do my best to help my younger sister navigate the crazy years of adolescence.

So will you? Will you make a difference in the life of a young person you know?

It all starts with a letter and three simple words.

Dear younger me …


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Photo courtesy of Amsterdamize and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the Author

is a 16 year old on fire for Christ. She enjoys writing, reading, daydreaming, and participating as a Cadet in Civil Air Patrol. Her prayer is that she is able to spend her life showing God's love to children who are in need of healing.



  • I love this, Joy! And I agree, we are never to young to be an example and mentor to those younger age-wise or spiritually. I love to see you doing this and I hope many others will too. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Hannah T.

      Wait, your name’s Hannah Grace? So’s mine!

      • Grace Reece

        Did you know that Hannah means Grace? My older sister’s name is Hannah and my name is Grace, so my parents unknowingly named both of us Grace!

        • Grace Reese, I like to tell people that I have double grace because of my name. 😉

          • Hannah T.

            Cool!

        • Hannah T.

          Yeah. Whenever anyone asks me what my middle name is, I tell them it’s what my first name means. 😀

        • Johanna Schulz

          Haha, my parents did pretty much the same thing. My name is Johanna and my little sister’s name is Jeanette. They both mean “God is gracious.” Hers is the French version and mine is like the German version.

          • That is SOOO cool. (I’m kind of a nerd about names!!)

      • Haha! Yeah, I have found that it is a pretty common combination. 😉

  • Grace Reece

    Wow! This is amazing timing! I recently wrote a similar letter to my now 13-year-old sister, for her 13th birthday! I also gave her a locket and a ring as a sentimental gift for her.
    P.S. She goes by her middle name, Joy!

    • Joy Swen

      That’s so cool! Letters to siblings are the best!

      I’m working a letter for my niece. I started it the day she was born and I was 16 at the time. My plan is to give it to her when she’s 16. It’s advice from one 16 year old to another. 16 years apart.

  • Oh wow I absolutely love this idea! And I love that song. Thanks for the inspiration, Joy!

  • Lydia C.

    This is great, Joy! I’m definitely going to do this. :)

  • Johanna Schulz

    This is amazing!!

  • Joy Swen

    Hello all. Thank you for reading the article.

    For anyone who is interested, the song that inspired this article is “Dear younger me,” by MercyMe.

    Here is the link for the song on Youtube.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sevy1AEQ0is

  • This is so sweet, Joy.

    I actually recently wrote a blog post called “A letter to little girls.” Here’s the link: https://haileyhudson.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/a-letter-to-little-girls/

    • Joy Swen

      wow. This letter is great! I like how you showed how big girls aren’t perfect and yet we can lead the little girls and teach them.

      Also, I love any of Cozi’s music! I began listening to it after my friend and I were talking about her. Handpainted is so beautiful!

      • Thanks for reading! Yes yes, Cozi’s music is SO good.

  • Emma

    Wow! This is a great (and convicting) article!

  • Angela Pycroft

    The instant I saw the name of the article I thought of the song you mentioned and clicked on it because I like that song. And it opened onto a beautifully written article….. Thank you so so so much for writing this!!!

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