Like sand through the hourglass.

Tomorrow, I move to Hollywood. Today, I turn twenty. I’m excited and nervous. I got up early and ran. In the best shape of my life, approaching a sub 7 body fat percentage. As I paced the track in dead silence, it took me a second to realize: I’m happy again. It took a while, and it took me longer to accept it, but here it is.

The cards are starting to fall in place, some sooner than others. But I’m not going to sit here and try and take credit for where I am. There have been a select group of people over the last year, who in seeing my future clearer than I, set me back on the right path. When Newton said that it was only by standing on the shoulders of giants that he found success, I’d have to add that I was hoisted there in the first place. For those of you in the same place, the only feeble thanks you can provide is working yourself to the bone–to make yourself worthy of that honor now and hope it applies retroactively. When I was at my absolute dredges and I thought I’d lost everything, I pushed forward anyways because they asked it of me. And then I figured out it was all bullshit anyway and purged that pettiness from my system.

Last year I set one big goal: to never work a wage job again. Here are I am, so far so good. Tomorrow I start an internship at a major talent management company (I’ll post details later if I decide it’s appropriate) Tomorrow, I move in with Tucker Max. Everyday I wake up employed by a company that is poised to revolutionize an archaic industry. I’ve met my heroes and made new ones. Could I have even imagined this a year ago? Let alone pursued it? No, and that’s the lesson. It was all just a vague pipe dream that I consummated with a single email. The rest, well that’s for another post. I read an article recently and the message was that missing opportunities is worse than making mistakes. We heard some guy from The Onion talking about how that since he couldn’t think of any catastrophic failures it meant they hadn’t been taking enough risks. I see now that I’ve been following that mindset for a while now, and I’ve got to continue to let it ride. You don’t reward gain by slowing down and hedging every bet. You don’t become a weaker version of your enemy by imitating everyone around you.

A year from now I’ll be done with school, but never with learning. I’ll ditch the albatross of the classroom for the true freedom of education. It’s that theme I’d like to make an effort to follow this year. Trim the fat, cut the dead weight. To all the people who’ve helped me, I plan on, like Cyrus, treating you as well as you all deserve. To the rest, well I won’t be making time for you anymore. I’m tired of wasting energy and effort. I’d like to wake each morning without bemoaning a single person on my life and I just won’t wait for you to change. Like Aurelius said, I must winnow my thoughts, focus my focus. To ask the impossible is the definition of insanity.

And as always, the goal is the same. Why be the one who makes the gratuitous mistakes for others to learn from when you could be the one doing the learning? I’ve read a lot of memoirs and I’d like mine to be different. I can do without ever understanding Fight Club from the perspective of the disgruntled, castrated American male. I can run the race like Sammy, but actually know what it’s for. Epictetus said that knowledge is meaningless without understanding just as strength has no value if it isn’t used for lifting. What good are these lessons if they don’t actually become lessons? Why all this reading if I’m not comprehending the pages? Those are the rhetorical questions I must ask myself each day of my twentieth year or I will waste it like so many others. Results too, are the understanding I must strive for.

For now, that’s all I have. This year will be pivotal sure, but no more than the year after or the year before. It’s the same for the rest of you who email me. Quit putting shit off or deluding yourself into thinking that college is some bubble that excuses meaninglessness and distraction. Hold yourself to the highest standard that you can and watch the improvement pour in as you struggle to reach it. It’s not too late to start now nor too early.

I’ll keep one quote in mind as I live in LA this summer:

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.