Home » Words of advice to my teenage self

I always wanted to be a writer by Susie Rinehart

Words of advice to my teenage self

I always wanted to be a writer. At 16, I wrote poems in hardcover journals. Then I shared my poetry with a boy I cared about. I hoped he would be kind. I thought, Maybe he’ll fall in love with me because of my words. Instead, he wrote in the margins of one of my poems, “If there is an original idea here, I can’t find it.” I stopped writing. I slid my hardcover journals into a cardboard box, sealed the box closed with duct tape, and carried it to the crawl space above the garage. I thought, I will never write again.

This is what I want to say to that teenage girl:

Get that box and open it up. Pick up your pen. When someone challenges your work, go deeper. Write more. Your voice is powerful. It is not for him. It is for the world. It is how you know what you think. It is how you understand what you feel. It will be how you find your way back to yourself. Each sentence says, I am here. I am human. This is what it feels like to be me. How does it feel to be you? It took thirty years to learn that. Better late than never…

This week we launch my memoir, Fierce Joy, in Boulder with a big gratitude party. I am bowing down to all of you who helped me bring this book out of hiding. Now, let’s party!! On May 15, it’ll be in bookstores. And we’ll do more launch parties and readings for everyone. But don’t wait until then.  Pre-order it now!


brave perfectMy forthcoming memoir, Fierce Joy is everything I know about bravery as a woman, a partner, a parent, a leader, an athlete, an activist, and a brainstem tumor survivor. My editors say it’s fast-paced and beautiful and funny. I say, don’t forget that it’s a love story. This is the memoir I’ve been working on in the pre-dawn darkness every day for the past two and half years. It’s about showing up real in life and at work and what gets in the way, namely perfectionism. It’s about love and death and living life to its fullest. It’s about choosing joy over fear and brave over perfect. It’s about looking underneath our fears to find unlimited joy. It’s about how our striving, saving, and performing to do things the “right” way is making it impossible for us to show up real. It’s about how Fear has become a main character in our lives, and a dangerous obstacle to real change.