Back in my sophomore year of high school, my chemistry teacher (definitely one of my favorite teachers of all time) had us write “letters” to ourselves that he would mail out to us in 10 years. They were more like forms that we filled out with questions about our life at the time and with introspective prompts.
It’s been interesting reading through it and seeing what was going on 16-year-old Niko’s head. There’s definitely a lot of things that I remember writing or perspectives I remember I having that are captured in the letter, but there’s also a lot in it that I had forgotten about.
At this point, I guess I was thinking of going into academia and being a college professor. I remembered being a bit jaded at the time and plagued by feelings of inadequacy, but I wasn’t expecting the extent to which it would be reflected in this letter.
When prompted to describe myself, the first sentence I wrote was, “I have short brown hair and am always tired,” followed by some normal stuff about my hobbies and things that I apparently hated. And I end the paragraph with, “Honestly, I could be making 10x smarter decisions then I do.”
For the section that asked, What things are you good at? The only thing written down was, “Procrastinating.”
What is your biggest fear right now?
“Failure, rejection, not being good enough, living in fear”
Reading all this kind of made my sad for my teenage self, and I do remember what it was like for me back then and some of the feelings and experiences I had through high school that really prompted a lot of that. A lot of the things I wrote actually still apply; the difference is now I have grown to be more compassionate towards myself and have developed practices for dealing with though feeling and fears. Also, perhaps paradoxically, I am less tired these days than I was then.
There were some rays of hope for young Niko in the letter; signs that I wasn’t just a puddle of self-doubt and pity.
What kind of person have you dreamed of becoming?
“I want to be a person who is just like the person my dog thinks I am.” Pretty sure I stole that from somewhere. “I want to be able to look back on these 10 years (and hopefully future years) [yes, I apparently loved obnoxiously using paratheses back then too] knowing I loved unbridled by fear, but also within my morals and the ideals of my family.”
What is the best advice you could give yourself in ten years from now?
“Do what you love. Play music, have fun, smile… Don’t lose your character and appreciate everything, small and large (you/ I need to work on that now). Be awesome.”
I also put a $10 bill in with the letter, probably in hopes that there would be some sort of cataclysmic economic crisis and that this bill would be worth millions in the 10 years that it was stored away. Though I think the reason I put it in there was so that the present me would have a nice surprise, except I never fully forgot that I wrote this thing and the fact that I put $10 in it was one of the things that I knew I could expect for sure, and I would think about it every time I thought about the letter.
All in all, it’s been fun to read through and a good chance to reflect on who I was and who I’ve become. My life is pretty different from what I probably envisioned at the time (I know I for sure did not want to be a doctor back then), but I think that if 16-year-old me could see where he would be mentally and situationally in 10 years it would put him at ease, at least just a little bit. We’re gettin there.