It's 38 year old Laura. I know 38 seems so old to you right now, but believe me, the next 20 years are going to fly by. Stop rolling your eyes for a minute and listen up. I've got important things to tell you.
20 years from now, you will be mostly the same. You will still have crazy curly hair, only they will make much better products. You will still be a highly organized and motivated person and you will know how to use it to your best advantage. You will still have boundless energy and enthusiasm, only it will be tempered by years of experience.
At 18, you have HUGE dreams and goals. Many of these dreams will come true. You will travel internationally many times. You will live in many different cities across the US. I'm sorry to tell you that you will also vacation in Fargo, North Dakota... and you will love it.
You will have a successful career. Anything you want to achieve, you will achieve when you put your heart into it. Keep your strong work ethic - it will serve you well. You may even learn that what you are *meant* to do is something you should have seen all along.
However you will also experience bad things. You will have your heart crushed and broken. You will break some hearts. You will lose your hearing in one ear. Don't worry - it will be miraculously restored through a crazy procedure that involves lasers and pistons. And while in 20 years there will not be jet packs, there will be super awesome hearing aids.
You will lose loved ones. The hardest ones to lose will be the ones where you didn't get a chance to hug them one last time. Always hug people when you leave, really truly hug them.
You will also make mistakes, terrible horrible mistakes. I refuse to tell you about these mistakes because you need those mistakes to be on the path to where you are now. Every decision you make in the next 20 years, even the ones that seem like a bad idea at the time, lead you to 38 year old me.
And where you are now? It is not what you thought it would be. You are not some high power CTO of a technology company, working a million hours, making bazillions of dollars. You are not saving the environment. You are not rolling around LA in a Mercedes after Caltech. You are not a lawyer, although you made this decision by interning in the patent law office at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, so that's pretty sweet.
I don't want to give you the details but I can give you this:
38 year old Laura is alive.
She is healthy.
She is loved.
She is happy, indescribably happy, actually the happiest she has ever been in her entire life.
And that, 18 year old Laura, is all that matters.