I have recently turned 35 and right now I still feel I have so much to learn. In 1997, I was 15 years old and I dreamed of too many things, but as almost any teenager I did not know what to do. I clearly remember 1997, it was a great year, I had my first official girlfriend. I could make end meets with so little money. A new cinema arrived to my neighborhood. I really had a great time that year. It was pure happiness. Now in 2017, things are different. My personal life has changed in many ways. I am really happy doing what I do, but I also dislike some other parts of my life, which I work hard to change. So in 1997, I had the privilege of owning an e-mail address, almost no one of my school mates had any idea of what that e-mail address thing was. So this letter, would actually be an e-mail address to my 15-year-old me, hoping he (or should I say, I) can thoroughly read it and learn from 20 years of future experience.
For clarity reasons, I will refer to you as dear 15-year-old me, you know, to tell each other and avoid confussion. So dear 15-year-old me, life is good, isn’t it?. I have found you kissed that girl and you are officially a couple, that’s great. She’s hot and funny, so be nice to her. I heard that you are having a great time at school, aren’t you?. Make the most out of this time, because it passes by so quickly and moments like these will not be back again. You are still a teenager, so do not worry so much about anything right now. It is not that important. Really.
So dear 15-year-old me, I am you, but 20 years older and with much more experience and mistakes, life has been nice to us many times and others, has been very rough as well. Times can be so hard many ocassions, but you will make it in the end. I will make sure of that. I am going to give you an advice, it is something very simple and direct, that maybe not many 15-year-old kids get to know. I hope you always keep it in your mind.
My advice is: create something. Yes, use your brain to start something. Focus obsessively on creating something. It does not matter if you fail through the process. I am sure you will fail anyway. It is necessary. People will laugh at you. They have no better job than making fun of other people because they have nothing important in their own life. You will study in the university and be a good professional, maybe not in the university you always dreamed of and maybe not the career you always wanted to but it will be fine. Listen, do not forget what I am going to say: what I have learned is that most people, almost everyone is afraid to create something new, they do not want to do it, simply because it is harder than anything else in life.
So, dear 15-year-old me, you do not need to create the new Facebook (you and the whole world will later know what Facebook is) or Microsoft, but you need to start something. It is perfectly fine if you work in a company and start new solutions or projects, then you would be an intrapreneur. If you go by your means and start something, then you would be an entrepreneur. Both are great and will make you equally proud of yourself.
My point, dear 15-year-old-me, is that most people prefer to follow the crowd. Simply following the rules and try not to break anything by the end of the day and with the money they earn, consume as much as they can. In the end, you can live a decent and happy life, but to me consumption does not mean fulfillment. For me (and you), only creation, starting something new will mean fulfillment.
So, dear 15-year-old me, that explains why my (I mean, your) personality reflects that urgency of not compliance with the dogma, the necessity of improving the current state of things. I strongly believe that it is reasonably impossible to live a happy life with no money or with debts. Lack of money means unhappiness, period. But once you start making money, consumption does not make you proud at all. Money is the leverage you need to create something. That is why I (or you ) admire people not for what they own but for what they have achieved or created in life.
When people talk about following their passion, they really need to be serious about it, they simply cannot play video games and eat chips all day, that would not be sustainable at all and it would be impossible unless someone pay your bills permanently. But if you play video games to create something valuable for other people, for example a YouTube channel (again, you will one day know what YouTube is and you will definitely love it), then you are really following you passion.
So, dear 15-year-old me, focus not on consuming with the money you will earn in the future but on creating something you will be proud of. Never let anyone, not even your dad, to tell you that you cannot do something, I know you always feel bad about not doing what people expect you to do, but really try not to give a fuck about it. You will regret not what you did but doing what you did not want to and eventually did to please other people.
You will love technology as you do right now, you will devote considerable time to this field. You will love learning as you do right now, but you will realize that you can learn by yourself by hanging around with you best mates: books. You will love books, soon you will realize.
You will pass through rough times. I bet right now, at 35, you will realize things are not pretty easy at all. But do not worry, this time will also pass and you will be fine again. But please never ever forget the most important thing in your life: always follow your passion, because passion never fails. I only wish I had known all of this 20 years ago.
Looking forward to meet you in 20 years.