Letter to My Teenage Self


To Jess Barnhart,

You are probably thinking, “If you are actually me, why are you giving me something else to read.” I know, you’re probably memorizing a speech for FFA or studying a case for a mock trial and you’re always “so busy,” but trust me, you are going to want to read this because I am so proud of you.

But not for straight As or for winning some competition on a random Tuesday. I am proud of you for being a positive role model. No matter what, you always stood up for the kids who needed it and you always persisted to be unapologetically you. Use the term “weird” as a compliment. Let it fuel your fire to think outside the box and live to create new and beautiful things. Stand up for the kid getting picked on for his shoes and sit next to the new girl. And never lose your enthusiasm. It is going to pave your way to an exciting future.

I don’t want to give away too many secrets because your life is going to be full of adventure. You are still standing up for kids who need it every single day. Please keep a special eye on those teachers that impact your journey at Derry Area High and learn from them. One day you will walk into an empty classroom of your own and you are going to be so overwhelmed but you will make a difference. Those teachers that supported you now will continue to support you then. Spoiler alert: Yes, Mr. Campbell was right… you did end up becoming an Agriculture Teacher.

Speaking of becoming a teacher, that job is HARD. You are going to say you don’t want to do it… you will anyway. Apply early for college, (you will save yourself from the late fee that I had to pay) and jump in head first! Don’t spend much time dwelling on not getting the FFA leadership role you wanted so badly after high school. Things happened that way for a reason! It was a blessing in disguise. You will also have so many amazing internships. Keep volunteering at the State Parks now, it’s going to pay off in your college internship. And when you let the realization hit you that you were born to teach, go back and tell the teachers who encouraged you. Truthfully, I don’t think you thanked them enough for molding you into who you are today.

Please skip your “too cool for your parents” stage too. You may not see it right now, but they would literally give you the shirt off of their back even if it was the last one they owned. Stop getting huffy over them being five minutes late to pick you up after a track practice or for trying to get you out of bed to go out to feed animals in the barn. As an adult, your parents are your biggest supporters even still. You also don’t realize all of the sacrifices they make for you until much later. Oh, and stop picking on your sister. I know it’s hard to believe, but she’s literally your best friend now.

The moral of my story is life is way too short to not tell people how much they mean to you. All of your milestones in life are influenced by the people you surround yourself with. Say thank you, stay in touch with people who have impacted you, and be a light to those around you because you never know who needs it.

Love ya kid!

Jess Marron (Yeah, your name changes too )