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Four Years at the Mount

Junior Year

Letter to Myself

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

(7/2013) Like the other Four Year at the Mount writers, I have written a letter to the past, imperfect version of myself, the Kyle that was caught somewhere between two different realities: the independent man I am today, and the nervous, shy young man who ventured out into the world one tentative step at a time.

Dear Past Me,

What is up, dude?! First things first, let’s not worry about the specifics as to how you got this letter. We’re English men, so let’s leave the science stuff to people who are far better at it than us. We may be great at writing, but contemplating the sheer scientific knowledge to understand time travel is far from our wheelhouse. I am not sure the exact time that this letter will reach you, or what you’ll be going through by the time you get this. We’ve been through a lot, you and me. We switched schools together and made a whole new group of friends. In a world of a million different possibilities, dreams, and career paths for us to choose from, we decided that the only thing we wanted to do with our life was write for a living. We wanted to share the stories we had in our head and in our heart with the entire world. When we put the pen to the page and the words just seem to flow out, it’s intoxicating. I know it is easy to get lost in the words, the pages, and the characters. I promise you that the wonderful sensation you get from creating whole new realities when you write will only grow as you do. However, I would caution you to keep one foot in the world you live in and the other in the world you create. Yes, the things that you can come up with are amazing, but believe me when I say that the places you will one day go are far more beautiful than any landscape you could dream up. And the people? The people you meet will surprise you and inspire you in ways you could not yet understand. Believe me when I say that your work and your existence will be richer for having met them.

I know you’re probably wondering how we’re doing, what we look like, how we sound, the places we’ve gone, and the things we’ve done, but I know how much you hate when people spoil the ending. I’ll try my very hardest to avoid any of the specifics of our life so far. It suffices to say that things are going really well for us, better than we had ever hoped for, to be honest. We still love our parents, and our little brother. Overachieving continues to be a favorite pastime, but luckily, by this point in our life, we’ve managed to turn our desire to succeed into a healthy ambition. At the time of this letter’s creation we are currently a 20-year-old junior in college. How sweet is that, dude? More than halfway done with the last phase of our educational career! It’s kind of mind blowing for me to think about, so I can only imagine how you feel hearing that you have become so old so quickly (I kid, I kid. We still have many years left in us, God willing).

Now, since I’ve broached the topic of school, let’s talk about college. You think life is cool now? Just wait until you get to the Mount. I know we spend a lot of time thinking about freedom and adventure, and pursuing higher learning will give you the chance for both of those things. If I may, I would like to offer you two pieces of sound advice. First, go and try everything. Second, remain strong in who you are. For the former, leave no stone unturned. We have spent so much of our life crafting an image for ourselves, an identity that we feel comfortable in and one that has served us well. Step beyond that. You will find some amazing relationships and experiences in unexpected places. You will make friends with people who you would never have given a second glance to earlier in your life. If something seems scary, impossible, and utterly strange, GOOD! Go and try it. Do it, and throw your weight behind it. You have spent enough of your life living a certain way. Please, break the majority of those barriers, and if you wind up on a roof at three in the morning, eating pizza, and looking up at the stars with an eclectic group of companions, you’re doing it right.

While it is important for you to experience and grow, I would urge you to heed the second piece of sage advice. The temptations that go along with a brave new world are everywhere, and they are as alluring as they are detrimental to your success. Yes, you should always be open to change, both external and internal. However, before you decide to embark on the road that you have chosen, make sure that you take stock of the things that you hold in the highest esteem. No matter what you gain from going out on a limb, it could never make up for losing sight of the man you are and the man that you want to become. The way to true learning and enlightenment for you—no, for us—lies in balancing our desire for freedom and adventure with the values that make us who we are. Our family, our faith, our commitment to give everything that we are to tasks and not let up until it is finished, and our belief that the world is ultimately a wonderfully amazing place. Those are tenants that have served us well in the past (and believe me, they are tenants that will serve us well in the future). If you can hold onto those things, then believe me when I tell you that this life is yours to seize.

Anyway, Past Kyle, I’ve got to go soon. We’re still busy almost 24/7 (It’s nice that some things will never change regardless of how old you get). We actually have quite a bit to prepare for in the next couple of days, so I need to sleep a little before tomorrow’s work begins. I have to say it has been a pleasure getting to talk to you, even if our conversation has been a tad one-sided. If and when you ever get this letter, please understand that I am so excited for you. Our life has been blessed in wonderful ways, my friend, and you have the pleasure of experiencing it all for the first time. Take care of your brother, respect your mother, go to bed and wake up earlier, and emulate dear old Dad. Oh, and speaking of Pops, I want to leave you with a few words that he will say to you later on in life (I promise) but that I feel will do you some good whenever you receive this letter: "Sometimes in life, you’ve got to take care of you." You’re no good to anyone unless you’re totally and completely yourself, the best Kyle you can be. Stay strong and keep the faith, brother; you’ll come face-to-face with me sooner than you think.



Read other articles by Kyle Ott