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A Message to my 13 year old self

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Dear Ryan,

This is the 23 year old you writing to you from 2021. No, 2012 was not the end of the world, you slept early that night and you woke up the next morning as usual. Nothing really happened.

You should be working on your little Android App right now as I recall. Good, keep doing it on your own after school. Even though it didn’t blow up as you thought it would (it got 10 downloads from the store in the end, spoiler alert), you will learn programming. This will serve you a long time, give you a lot of successes and failures in your future, and most importantly, enabled a lot of experiences for you.

Which lead us to the 5 things I want to tell you:

#1 Try, and fail. Then do it again.

Keep trying new ideas you have. You might be creating an App right now, but I can guarantee you few months later you will be into making videos, then a year later you are back into IT and making money through helping people solve their IT problems. Then a while later you will be creating some sort of online discussion forums and chatrooms thinking that those will make you money through ad placements… then you will also create websites for people for money. You will start a lot of these little projects for fun and you will fail at most of them. No worries. It is all good for you. You will learn a lot in the process, that is the most important part. Do not be caught up in the failures. Take these as learning and reference experiences. It is a privilege to have these at a young age. Don’t be afraid to try out your new ideas even though you might not have the money now. You will have it later. Do it, test it, learn. Keep doing these and do not doubt yourself.

#2 The “adults” don’t know it better 

You will encounter a lot of people who doubt you. They don’t understand why you are doing all these. They will think they are “not important” and will not serve your future. Closest to you are your parents. They might have all the good intentions but I want to tell you that they don’t know it better. A lot of these “adults” have no idea of the world that your generation is facing right now. They are giving you advice based on what they know from their era. Most of them really don’t know the challenges, the world, the Internet and all kinds of things of your time. It is okay. They did their best. You will read a lot of books. You will find people who can inspire you. Learn from many, especially those that really know it, those who have achieved things that you want for yourself. Keep an open mind and soak all the ideas in like a sponge, but do not get attached to any one of them, always understand that you are ultimately the one making the decision. Most of them don’t know it better than you do.

#3 Be loving

You are not good at expressing your love to people. You too often give people a egotistical, cold feel. Trust me, this is not good for you long term. You are always working and working and working and you seldom take some time off and understand deeper what the other people want to tell you. You need to open up your heart and listen to them. Understand them. This tip alone will be immensely immensely beneficial for you. Trust me. If you forget everything in this letter, remember this.

#4 Keep learning

Taking actions on your ideas are good but “learning + taking actions” is even better. You need to take actions. Yes. Don’t just sit on your ideas. But, if you only take actions, you are only utilising the knowledge and experience you possess at your current age in the projects you are working on. That is, sort of, weak. Learn from other people’s experiences, take their courses, read their books, that way, you can stand on their shoulders, utilising not only yourself, but also their years and years of experiences and knowledge in your projects. That is coming from a powerful place. That is what will make some of your projects succeed.

#5 Pay people

You do not have a lot of money now, that’s okay. But, when you do, allocate a part of the money to learning. And don’t only learn from the free stuff, pay people and learn from them. You will later call this process “investing in yourself”. It is very good for you. The free stuff are great but if you want to achieve things in a shorter amount of time, pay people when you can. You will learn most of your stuff for free but for the most advanced and personalised advice and help, do not be afraid to pay.

That is all I wanted to tell you. Last thing I do want to tell you is, “this too, shall pass“. Nothing is forever so do not get caught up with one event or two. It is ok to be frustrated, to be sad, to have emotions during those lows, but everything will pass. I have nothing further to add.