The Tiny World I Grew Up In Changed My Life

Having nothing isn’t so bad.

There was no “outfit of the day” when I was growing up. Because you had no options. There were three tops and four bottoms. And half of those looked the same as the other half. What are you doing to do? And don’t even get me started on the kicks. I didn’t touch a Nike sneaker until I was 16. Quirks of the small world on the small island where I grew up. Middle class family. Every spare penny was saved. Everything was about safety. And it killed me.

I can’t say I hated growing up here. Sure, it was hard. But far from tragic. Although, I do remember being perpetually uncomfortable. I can’t explain it. It’s like I wanted more from the moment I could want anything. And this would eventually land me in trouble. Skirmishes with authority. Breaking every rule in the book for the sake of it. Conflict has always peppered my life, adding spice to an otherwise bleak canvas. Which is my single greatest advantage.

There’s a proverb I once read which applies here, “A caged bird can still spread its wings.” My small world was a dead end. Kids here go to college to become an accountant, get married, take out a mortgage on a duplex, and retire at 55. People suffocate here. You can see it in their eyes. You can hear it in their voice. But not me. I’ve been spreading my wings inside the cage since day one. I always knew this wasn’t enough.

My entire worldview revolved around this. My sole purpose was to reach the moon and go beyond. Everything was a comparison. Every decision a stepping stone. I never had a life — only an odyssey. Obviously, this has shaped my character tremendously. I now work 100 hours a week. I eat one meal a day. I never go out with friends. I literally sleep next to my desk. And I even eat standing up since I figured out it helps me eat faster.

People call me crazy. And they’re right. It’s not normal to want the world to be yours. Meanwhile, my ultimate goal is to win and own the world — only to offer it to a woman along with a ring, some day. But that’s a story for another day. My point is, I’ve often reflected on where this came from. And every single time, I arrive at the same answer: The small world I grew up in. Put people in a box, and they’ll learn to make it their home. But once in a while, you’ll get someone different. Someone who’ll do anything to get out. That’s me: I’m burning the box while I’m still inside. That’s how much I want everything.

Writing code that burns cash (trading bots). <mika@myika.co>

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