April 29, 2015.
“Right now, I am sitting on a rock next to quickly moving water. Today, I just finished my last final exam for my freshman year at Clarkson University. It’s a weird feeling. I am transferring to Hobart and William Smith Colleges where I will study Environmental Studies…I wonder if you stuck to that?”
I did. I also picked up another major (& passion) in Anthropology. Three years ago, I was dreaming of where I would be during my senior year of college. I never expected that the answer would be sitting in a cafe in Hanoi.
This quote above is from a letter that I wrote myself freshman year and didn’t see again until just before I left for Vietnam. The director of the Adirondack Semester had us write letters to ourselves three years down the road, and then mailed them to us this year. It was an amazing surprise to get that letter in the mail. If you’ve never written a letter to yourself, you should give it a try.
I reflected upon what I had learned during that year, and what I hoped I would be like in three years. I am happy to say, I’ve met my expectations for 20-year-old me. I’d like the take the opportunity to write myself another letter now…
November 22, 2017
Dear future me,
I am currently in a board game cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam with only fifteen days left of my study abroad experience. I am sitting with Amanda, Katie, and Sam, three out of the four people I have spent most of my time here with (Stephen is the fourth). They are amazing people who have really made this experience all that it could be, and I am incredibly grateful for all that they have taught me. Make sure you reach out to them if you haven’t spoken to them in awhile.
This morning, I went with a professor from the University of Humanities and Social Sciences to meet with two other professors who were discussing plans for a new project that helps recreate traditional Vietnamese performing arts. They were lovely people who welcomed me into their home, shared knowledge and experiences, and of course tea and pistachios. I hope you remember what that experience felt like. Joyful, welcoming, and loved by strangers.
During these past three months, I have seen beautiful places, met incredible people, and eaten delicious food. During the past three years, I have been challenged, supported, and pushed beyond any preconceived limits. I hope that when you read this, you remember the amazing things that you have done since that day you decided to leave high school early. I hope that you are taking time to do things that you love.
I have one more semester of undergrad. This summer, I will return to the Fresh Air Fund and then I might be going to Indonesia for a year. It is so lovely to think about what I might be doing a year from now, let alone three years from now.
In the letter I wrote myself in 2015, I reflected upon a question I was asked by one of my favorite professors at Clarkson. What is the best course of life? You once wrote your answer down. Find that document. Read it often. I’ll finish with the same few things I did the last letter to myself. “Love your world. Love yourself. Say “thank you” too often. Sit in the rain, go on adventures. Sing, smile, be you.”