10-year-old Me Would Be Proud
I'm 10 years old
I write all the time: notes, poems, journal entries, copying quotes, lyrics, and book excerpts into my endless notebooks.
I realize that I love words. I pore over them, and learn to experiment with the effect they have on people. I want to be a writer.
Language helps people relate to one another, elicit emotion, and preserve moments in time.
I’m 16 years old
I like getting good grades. I excel in Physics and Math, while my English teachers challenge me to do better with less than perfect scores.
I realize that I love Science. I resonate with the logical explanations and the satisfaction of proving theorems.
Science answers important questions, provides solutions, and creates a basis for innovation.
I’m 20 years old
I tell a friend that I want to write a book someday, but the only writing I have time to do is technical writing for my Engineering course work. I will finish my bachelor’s degree with highest honors, but I have no idea what I’m going to do next. I know that I want to do something innovative.
I realize that I love to learn, and vow to myself that I will endlessly pursue knowledge until I die. I find inspiration in new information and tactics. I start learning to balance humility and confidence, realizing that everyone is somewhere in their educational journey.
Lifelong learning keeps your mind and skills sharp, which is essential for a career in innovation. It means constantly admitting that you don’t have the right answer and enthusiastically looking for it.
I’m 24 years old
I work at a coffee shop. None of the Mechanical Engineering jobs nearby are creative or innovative, so I stop looking. After careful consideration, I decide to buy a computer and start learning how to write code.
I realize that I love software. Its ability to simplify complex problems and create delightful experiences for users is innovation at its finest. I read tech blogs and books about entrepreneurship. I dream of a non-traditional path, and I’m just green enough to try to find it.
Software connects people in new, unanticipated ways, simplifies their work, and lets them focus on what matters.
I’m 29 years old
I work for my own company leading our software development team. I learn that my Dad might have been right about some of his career advice, and more experience would have been really helpful. I am responsible for a lot of things I’m not good at, and often feel overwhelmed or exhausted.
I realize that I love the power of teamwork. I learn what leadership means, and how to recognize it in others. My team is growing and I learn how to let go of individual tasks and look for the bigger picture.
Leadership plays to the unique strengths of individuals, enhances collective efforts, and allows us to provide a better outcome as a team than we could on our own.
I’m 34 years old
I’ve been building software for over 10 years. I have made more mistakes than I can count, but I learn my lessons and get better every time. I work on software products for successful businesses, startups, and even for my own company. Awareness about “women in tech” inequity is at an all-time high, and resources to address the issue begin to flourish. I get asked for advice and invited to participate in community events and boards often, because I’m an outgoing “woman in tech” in a small city.
I realize how much I love helping people. I have mentors, and I am a mentor to others. I lean into the power of social media, and begin to really enjoy sharing and running social experiments. I am finally writing again.
Mentorship is transitive, philanthropic, and perpetual, empowering individuals to empower others.
Last week, I spontaneously published a story about a meeting I had with a friend over coffee. In the first two days, the story reached more people than any of my previous posts.
Many of my friends and family related to the story and shared it in their networks.
My post got picked up and shared by @bambineribelli, the Italian version of the Good Night Stories book on Instagram.
Over the next week the piece was read, recommended, liked, shared, and highlighted by over a thousand people. Soon after that, Lisa @ Scary Mommy contacted me to ask if they could syndicate the piece on Scary Mommy, which has the potential to reach millions more.
The post was as an afterthought, an accident, a social experiment, and it carried weight for a lot of people. There are a lot of of younger versions of me that would be surprised, but 10-year-old me would be proud.
If you have a story to share with the world, the tools are at your disposal.
Find your voice. Share your wisdom. Create a legacy.
And, never stop learning.
About the Author: Lauren Jerome is the co-founder of an innovative software studio, as well as a community organization working to make tech careers more accessible to a broader audience. She lives in Eugene, Oregon and works from anywhere with a decent signal. Follow her on Twitter and explore more of her work on Medium.