adventures of an american housewife in the south of france


When I was 5, I was convinced that there was no number 15.  I spent weeks arguing this fact with my parents, convinced that they were lying to me and making up some fake number between 14 and 16 where no number existed.  It finally took the wise words of my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Greenwald, to convince me that, there indeed was a number 15.  I think that's when my parents realized that I was going to be a very opinionated and stubborn person. When I was about 12, I couldn't wait to turn 15.  For some reason, I had it in my mind that 15 was the perfect age (I was reading a lot of Judy Blume at the time).  Saying you were 15 just sounded so cool to me and I couldn't wait to get there.  When I finally did turn 15, it was everything I had hoped for.  I was a sophomore in high school, which was and still is, my favorite year of that experience.  My friends were getting their drivers licenses, I loved my classes in school, and I made my first group of boy friends.  You know, boys who are actually your good friends.  Before then I didn't even know that existed.

1996 - 1997 class picture. notice the clear was my second time with braces...

Now, as I'm one day away from turning 30 (gasp!), I look back at 15 and can hardly believe that was half of my lifetime ago.  In some ways it feels like yesterday and in other ways it feels like someone else's life.  Now that I've lived a whole 15 years beyond the first 15, I've been thinking a lot about what I would say to myself back then at that age.  What advice would 30-year old Natalie have for 15-year old Natalie?  So I came up with 15 pieces of advice for me at 15:
  1. Stop cutting your hair so short, it looks better long.
  2. Maintaining friendships requires work, but it shouldn't be hard.  It's about respecting and supporting each other, not about competition and jealousy.  Friends should add to your life, not take away from it.
  3. Thank your parents more.  They do so much for you that you don't even realize and contrary to what you think, they're on the same team as you.  Yes, they are strict, but you're still managing to have fun, right?
  4. Oh, and they are smarter than you.  Really. Remember that time when you were babysitting at 13 and you told Mom there was nothing she could tell you about caring for an infant that you didn't already know?  Ya, Dad will never let you forget that one.
  5. You need to start listening to better music.  It's out there, I swear.
  6. That guy who broke your heart?  You won't think twice about him later.  But still, get all the bad poetry that you can out of these silly break-ups.  It will make you laugh after you meet someone who's really worth caring about.
  7. Don't worry about being so skinny with freakishly long legs.  Someday, that will be a good thing and you'll learn to love your body.
  8. I know you love learning Spanish, but you really should switch to French.
  9. It's ok if you don't know what you want to be when you grow up.  When you're grown up, you still won't know and hopefully that's ok too.
  10. Don't stay mad at family and friends.  Hug your loved ones and let go of anger and negativity.  Life is short but you don't realize that yet.
  11. This would be a good time to learn how to manage your money...'cause that would be real helpful for later on if you do that now...
  12. It's hard to drown out the noise, but worrying about what everyone else thinks is a waste of time and energy.  Just be yourself and the right people will stick around.
  13. Stop feeling so trapped in Ohio and enjoy the small town experience.  It can seem suffocating and boring, but it is teaching you a way of living that you will really value later on.  Besides, you'll get out.  Oh, will you ever.
  14. Keep dreaming big dreams, even if people think you'll never achieve them.  Your future really is up to you and no one else.
  15. Never stop asking what's next.
What advice do you have for your 15-year old self?

1996, in all my 15-year old glory

7 Responses to “Fifteen”

  1. this was really sweet natalie.

    i kinda hate you for being so pretty at 15 though (and at almost 30, naturally)

    me at 15? ee-gads.

    happy almost birthday and being 30 is beyond fabulous, 31 is pretty great too.

  2. Tamar says:

    you are just so cute, nats! happy happy happy birthday to you!!! miss you so much!

  3. Amanda Havel says:

    Happy Birthday Natalie! Not only are we both from Ohio but our birthdays are less than a week apart, go Libras!

  4. Stéphanie says:

    I loved it!!!

    We grew up kind of faaaaaar away, but, even in Chicoutimi, Quebec, being 15 feels like the same!!!

    I should had the haircut advice sooner…

  5. Dawn says:

    You are adorable at 15 and at 30.

    You have really good documented advice to pass onto a 15 year old.

    Happy Birthday Natalie!

  6. Darren says:

    Huffers! I really enjoyed reading this. Who’d have thought you’d be writing about kijewkowish all these years later? (that was you right?) My daughter has the exact same body type you have. We are in a constant battle finding jeans that aren’t highwaters but skinny enough in the waist.

  7. Devon says:

    I loved 15 year old Natalie and I feel so blessed that, 15 years later, you are still my bestie. xoxo

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