To Olivia,

It’s an uncomfortable thing to write a letter to myself that I’m meant to read in ten years. For starters, I’m not quite sure how to address you. Is “you” weird? Maybe I, or we? Are we a collective being, or just different versions of each other? I’m learning all about this exact arena of philosophy this semester in my intro class, and I’m wondering if you still remember the thinker who proposed these ideas, ten years in the future. We love trivia, so hopefully you do, but I’m hesitant to move on to another topic just in case you don’t; I know how crazy it makes me when something is on the tip of my tongue, and maybe this is how you’re feeling currently. I’m imagining you slapping your forehead in frustration right now, both at your former self for doing this to you, and at your current self for forgetting the philosopher’s name. But in the interest of challenging you, I’m not going to give it away. Sorry in advance!

I’ve never spoken to myself like this before, and I already feel like I sound too formal. We both know that our daily internal monologue is one colloquial, hectic mess, only to be organized when putting pen to paper. Or in this case, fingertips to keyboard. So let’s just take a step back and make this as comfortable as possible, as if I’m writing to a pen pal that I’ve yet to meet, but know everything about. You should know that I’m laughing out loud currently, because this is super weird in every way; nonetheless, I want you to have a good visual of your old self. I am presently wearing leggings and a hoodie, my hair is wet from my shower, and I’m sitting comfortably in bed, sipping on a glass of wine that came from a bag. I will truly be damned if this describes your current state just as accurately as you read this at thirty years old.

I’ve got quite a few goals that I’d like to accomplish over the next ten years. I’m pretty stoked that this letter is going on the internet, because it’s a great way to hold myself to them. For starters, I hope you’ve found a comfortable spot to write every day; one as cool as an apartment that overlooks a bustling street in Prague. This is a high bar to exceed, I know. An ocean view, maybe? Just a suggestion—no pressure. Oh my God, I can’t wait to see where this lands me.

I’m learning so much about how to live my best life while abroad, and I really hope that I retain some of my new practices that Prague has instilled in me. Ten years may be a stretch, but there are a few things that I hope will stick. Primarily, are you still buying fresh brie? This is not a suggestion—this is an order. Eat brie with apples or salami as often as possible, preferably while cradling a cup of afternoon coffee and watching a feel-good movie with your roommates. I mean, with your husband and/or kids. It’ll make you feel so cozy and alive, and you may even end up booking a flight to Europe by the time you finish the cheese-block. And there’s no shame in either of those things.

Something else worth noting about life in Prague is the feeling of opportunity I constantly have. I don’t even need to wonder if that feeling will still be there in ten years, because it’s already become permanent. There’s no going back after the realization that there’s something exciting and new out there every day, waiting for me to go get it. Or, waiting to fall into my lap. Both have been known to happen, but neither without my own effort to put my best foot forward in every situation. Just continue to be a thinker, a writer, a teacher, a friend, and an observer—and don’t ever stop learning. In fact, I have a few suggestions in mind for topics in which to improve your knowledge. For instance, I pray that you can navigate your way around a city, and understand the art of map-reading. I realize that it does not come naturally, and our brain is just not wired for it, but we have to keep trying. I’ve unfortunately racked up years worth of directional inability, and I can only hope that you’ve begun to redeem them at this point.

Most importantly, I hope you’re still happy as a clam. If there’s one thing I’m entirely confident about for the future, it’s that new wonders will never cease to make you love life in different ways each day. I just look forward to encountering them all.

Best wishes,

Olivia Traversi, Age 20