I turn 24 today which means I’ve spent half my life writing code. When I started, I didn’t think this was the yardstick I’d be measuring my life against, but sometimes the cookie crumbles in ways you don’t foresee.

When I think about that 7th grader booting up the Codecademy Javascript course, all I can do is remember the joy of those early days. I remember building my choose your own adventure batman game. I remember making a silly little paint application. I remember building Tennis Scorekeeper+ (the plus was so people would think it was the pro version). Most of all, I remember the complete joy of writing code with no strings attached. Just in it for the love of the game.

Being in it “for the love of the game” is still the core of my experience. There’s a lot of noise out there about the next wave to jump on. There’s a lot of ladder climbing that will undeniably increase your TC or land you a job at Palantir. While I don’t have a moral issue with any of that (get that bag), it’s just never been motivating for me. I’ve always just wanted to work on problems I find interesting with people I like. And maybe do some good for the world.

I want to hold onto this for as long as I possibly can. I see far too many people jaded about their jobs, playing the corporate game so they can get that new apartment. While playing the ladder will lead to short-term benefits, I genuinely believe that the long arc of time favors those who are just trying to do their best for the sake of doing their best.

The last 12 years have been filled with surprise after surprise. Software has brought me success that I could have never imagined. It’s taken me far from home to a place I thought I would despise but instead love. It’s brought me my closest friends in life.

The road here has been long, and it’s been paved with the goodwill of so many around me. The support of my family; the camaraderie of my friends; the wisdom of my mentors. I’m grateful for all of it, and I look forward to continuing to pave it for many years.

I just wish my dad was here to see it.