You probably don’t know who Allen Wong is, but his inspirational words will leave a lasting impact on you.
Allen has a rags to riches story: His parents were raised in the slums of China. After coming to the US, Allen found a full-time job at Columbia University. He self-taught himself how to code during his free time, creating apps on the weekends and weeknights in hopes of making some income for his family. Fast forward today and his apps have been downloaded by close to 20 million people (his most popular app is called “5-0 Radio Police Scanner,” which lets you listen to police radio chatter from around the world).
His bright blue Lamorghini Aventador got the internet’s attention almost three years ago (you can read his AMA here), but two days ago he posted the below on his Facebook and we can’t stop reading and sharing it.
Here it is in its entirety. Be sure to read the whole post:
Here’s a picture of me in my early 20s driving the first car I ever owned for the very first time. #tbt
This is what I learned since then:
We all start off thinking that we’re all the same until we get into our teens and starting craving the need to express our individuality. But most of the time, that just means imitating our peers and role models. We concern ourselves with what other people think of us (sometimes overtly so).
As we grow into our twenties, we start realizing that most people don’t really care about us or even notice us. Most of the time, they’re just too busy and we’re equally too busy to pay attention. This is also the same time when we find out that we’re not much different from everyone else, and we become lost in the sea of people. The illusion of being the center of the universe has faded. We try to impress our friends (and sometimes even strangers) in a desperate attempt to be noticed, but no matter how many Facebook likes you get or how many followers you have, you always come to the realization that you’re nothing special.
But as we grow older still, we keep persevering and we eventually find things that are unique to us individually. You start forming an identity and stop being just like other people. People may not notice the little details about yourself, but these details are what make you you. Perhaps you like to take long solo drives in the middle of the night. Perhaps you draw artwork on your sidewalk with a pressure washer. You are back to expressing your individuality, but this time, it is less about emulation and more about the quirks that are unique to you.
Eventually, after a few years of soul searching, you make peace with your situation. You may not become a famous celebrity, but it doesn’t bother you at all. You’ve learned to let go of things. Grudges seem so stupid now. Got your heart broken again? You aren’t even going to cry this time. You’re older now and you watch the next generation of people repeat the same journey you’ve just made. And you’re fine with all of that, because you wouldn’t be who you are now if you didn’t try it all when you were younger, too. It might be sad to see the next generation make the same mistakes as you did, but it is their world now, and their lessons to learn on their own.
It is no longer about caring what people think of you. It’s about doing what you always wanted to do. But this time, instead of simply just wanting to do it, you go and do it. And here’s a crazy thought, maybe this time you won’t even bother posting about it on Facebook. You simply ran a 5K because that’s what you decided to do this month. You eat at a fancy pants restaurant without taking pictures of your food. You went to a tropical island without letting anyone know about it. You simply stop doing things for other people in a self-serving way, and start doing things for yourself just for yourself.
And perhaps someday when you’ve gotten all of that out of the way, you start building. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new family, a new business, or even a new house. You create something and leave your mark on this world. What that may be is up to you to decide.