A Letter to 20 Year Old Me
Dear Young Me,
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Truer words have never been spoken, my friend. I’m writing to you because tomorrow is a big fucking deal. Yes, I know…you don’t swear like that so how could this really be a letter from me? Or is it a letter from you? Whatever. At any rate, yes, you swear like a sailor sometimes so just fucking accept it and let’s just move on, k? I’m writing because tomorrow marks the end of one chapter of your professional life and the beginning of the next. Which means this really truly is the first day of the rest of your life. So listen to what the hell I’m about to say.
The greatest thing you will ever do is to start over and rebuild yourself.
You heard me correctly. You’ve spent much of your life building a career that, while successful, is still missing something. You’ve gone from that scrawny kid with big ears riding his broke-assed bike down East Colfax to a successful software engineering leader making a great salary, despite being a college dropout. And through that journey, you will learn so much about yourself, as a person. And more importantly, as a human. You won’t realize it, but you’re something special, kid. But there is still something missing, and you’re not going to know what it is. You’ll turn 40 and start to question absolutely everything you’ve ever done and every important decision you’ve ever made and the career path you took, and you’re going to blame the questioning and hints of self-doubt on a mid-life crisis, or mercury rising. Or maybe the weed.
Then you’re going to wake up one Saturday morning and you’re going to make a decision to live your life differently. You’ll start riding a Harley because it feels like freedom. And you’ll get more tattoos and a couple gauges, and you’ll eventually read a book titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and you’ll start giving less fucks about the things that really don’t matter, and you’ll start giving more fucks about the things that really do matter. It’s going to feel foreign to you and you’re going to feel guilty as hell for being selfish about it because it means you are going to have to start putting yourself before others. You’re going to have to start listening to your heart when it speaks. Listen to me…the only person taking care of your future is you, and it’s a future that will mean something. Let that sink in for a long, contemplative minute or two. The only one standing in your way is you, so on that Saturday morning that I’m talking about, you better just fucking go with those feelings you’ve got in your gut and not look back.
Tomorrow morning, you will become an official student at Turing School. You spent years and years of professional development and career growth getting away from the code and being a student of humans through management and leadership, and now you’re ready to take those lessons that you’ve learned about inspiring others, and you’re going to intentionally apply them to the most important person in your life…you. People will raise an eyebrow and look at you with skepticism when you tell them what your next move in life is. They’ll question why you would do such a thing when “You’ve got it made, man! WTF are you thinking?!” But here’s the deal, young me. You are a creator. You are a maker. You are a fucking rule breaker. And you’re not even remotely satisfied with the status quo. You are full of ideas, and you know you can make a meaningful dent in this thing called life. And you’re ready to kick the door in and get started.
The rebuild starts tomorrow and you couldn’t be happier than you are right now. You’ve started thinking about sitting amongst the other students, each with their own unique interesting past, and stories of their own journey that brought them to this same decision as you, and you’re elated to be able to help them. To be one of them. You feel like you can help them become better versions of themselves because of the experiences you’ve already gained in life. And you believe that they will be able to do the same thing in return, helping you become the best possible version of yourself. You’re hammering away on the keyboard in preparation, the “tap-tap-tap” on the keys ringing in your mind like a metaphorical hammer, ripping everything down and rebuilding it from the ground up. It’s at this point that you’ll realize what’s been missing this whole time.
What has been missing is you, following your heart.
It’s time to start letting something different guide you in life. It has absolutely nothing to do with what society says you should be; it’s not about the American dream or the house in the suburbs with a dog and a white picket fence that you have to repaint every damn year. It has absolutely everything to do with your happiness. It has everything to do with you making decisions…for you. I hope you read this, and I hope you listen to me.
With Love and Reckless Abandon,