The Prompt: Write a letter to the you of ten years ago.
Ten years ago at this time, I was 18 and rounding the home stretch of my sophomore year of college. (Good lord, does that thought make me feel old.) Sophomore year was the year I finally settled on my double major, which had been fluctuating for a year and-a-half. I added part-time job number three to the mix (jobs one and two were back home, 2.5 hours away, and I drove back down every few weeks to keep myself in the rotation at both). I had the best roommate ever, and I distinctly recall us being far less sane than anyone would have ever suspected of us on several occasions during late-night study sessions around midterms and finals.
Sophomore year was my favorite year of college. That’s probably an unusual claim to make, but it’s certainly true.
If I were anyone else, I’d tell you that you spend too much time studying, except that I know you, and you and I both know that the reason you’re double majoring is that you love studying. So, I won’t say any such thing. Study on, sister. It’s going to serve you well, and you’re going to enjoy nearly every minute of it. Except Analytic Philosophy. That’s going to be a beast, but pretty much everyone is going to have their brains scrambled by that class, so don’t even worry about it.
Speaking of double majoring: You went from environmental science and English to philosophy and classical civilizations, so welcome to the world of “What are you going to do with that?” The answer, believe it or not, is “Marketing and graphic design.” Even ten years later I can’t explain this phenomenon, but when you graduate, and decide that you’re going to give these two careers a shot for a while, every job you get will be partially because the interviewer thinks your degree is awesome. They will think your majors give you a fresh perspective on the world. Seriously. You will hear this from more than one employer. So just smile and nod for the next two years. It’s going to be just fine.
Fencing and playing the bagpipes will not last beyond junior year. Staying up until three in the morning watching movies and playing Mario Kart with your friends will. You will not always put studying first. Your priorities are exactly where they’re supposed to be.
The world you knew before 9/11 no longer exists. You will be amazed at the personal invasions you won’t even blink at ten years from now. Invest in slip-on traveling shoes and tiny shampoos. Cupcakes and underwear can be deadly weapons, but for some reason knitting needles are still safe.
By the way, you’re going to take up knitting. And cross-stitching. And own cats. Will it help if I tell you that you’re also going to have spiky hair and a tattoo?
You will take more paths in the next decade than I could possibly describe in a letter. They will lead to careers you never considered, loves you never imagined. Some will turn out to be dead ends. Some will end in heartache, or heartbreak. Some will distract you, others will toss you into what seems like complete madness, still others will turn you back to where you were always meant to be. As Frankie said, “that’s life.” And, as Tolkien said, “Not all those who wander are lost.” Wise men, both.
So, enjoy the time you have now, because people are right when they say every year goes by faster than the last, and you’re an adult before you know it. It sneaks up on you, and you’ll get nostalgic, and ten years from now you’ll be sitting in your living room, typing on a laptop they can’t even make yet, following a writing prompt and speaking to your 18-year-old self.
Now, get back to that philosophy paper I know you have due.
P.S.: When the idea of taking German pops into your head, resist. You’re only going to last three weeks, and you will burst into tears of utter frustration in front of the professor when you have to drop the class. Ancient Greek and German at the same time? It’s not going to be one of your finer moments.
P.P.S.: Stock up on winter coats, because even though you loathe the cold and can’t imagine ever living anywhere you’d need them more than a couple months or so out of the year…boy, oh boy, are you going to need them.