I always hate being asked this question because it’s impossible to make a decisive decision. Academic Nicole would love to take my activist crush, Mahatma Ghandi, to an ahisma restaurant. Musician Nicole would take the late and great Amy Winehouse, in my opinion the best female jazz vocalist ever, to drinks at the Village Vanguard. And I know this may come off as conceited, but I think 20-year-old Nicole Nicole would wine and dine post-retirement Nicole.
I love old people. I’ve learned so much from them. All four years of high school, I would spend my Sunday mornings showcasing my classical piano chops on a gorgeous 1932 Steinway Model B piano at a retirement community during their Sunday Brunch. After an hour and a half of Chopin, Brahms and Rachmaninoff, I would spend the half hour before my parents would pick me up eat croissants and socializing with the elder folk. Originally as an opportunity to sharpen my performance skills, and to give my parents ears a morning to forego the scorching pain my music gave them after a decade of hearing the blood, guts and every wrong note to every song I’ve ever learned, I realized I looked more and more forward to my conversations with the elders. They taught me not to care so much about what others think of me. If I do what I love, I’ll be happy. To live every day to it’s full potential because life is short. It felt like I had my own personal repository of Pocahontas’ Wisdom Willow Tree wisdom in the form successful people well into their golden years. As much as I have learned from my elder friends at Parker Ridge, who better to receive advice about your future than an elder version of yourself? Only your future self has the valuable tacit knowledge applicable to you, through your future successes and failures.
Fact: old people love Brahms Intermezzos & Chopin Waltzes
Although initially tempted to ask where to invest all of my money or if/who/when will I get married, I would refrain from asking future-telling questions. Rather, I think I would ask two questions, “what did you wish you knew at my age?” and “what will make me happiest in my next few years as I transition to a real person?”.
Every morning I try to recite gatha and set an intention for the day. Nine out of ten times, my intention is some variation of striving to be the best version of myself I can be. But more and more as the weeks of my junior year dwindle, I’ve found myself setting intentions concerning happiness. The thought of living a meaningless and unhappy life scares me. Sure, I’m happy when I am with people I love and care about, or when I’m eating frozen novelties, but I am confused as to what will formulate a happy life in my approach to adulthood.
Every future possibility I can see for myself has another future possibility tradeoff. I want to be married and have a family, but I want a thriving career. I want to have a job that will allow me to make the world a better place, but I want a job that will be meaningful to me. I want to be successful, but I don’t want my job to be my life. I know these decisions aren’t black or white, but maybe my future self could enlighten and guide me to which path would yield the happiest and best version of myself possible.