Dear Charley

On pressure, passion, and having just so much time in a day

May 23, 2016

Hey Charley,
So, Renaissance genius wannabe, why even try to do it all? Hard enough to keep up with all the school/friends/afterschool stuff. Feels majorly stressing.

And how'd you come up with the idea of a time machine, anyway?

Just chillin',
A 21st-century bro

So, bro,
I know what you mean about the pressure. People expect so much of us teens these days. Even though my parents are always telling me I take on too much, they'd be majorly bummed if all of a sudden I got bad grades or stopped playing violin or soccer.

My wanting to "do it all" has to do with intrinsic motivation [definition: undertaking something I feel passionate about, coming from the inside]. So the time machine thing comes from wanting to solve a problem that no one else—not even Leonardo da Vinci, the original Renaissance genius who dreamed it up—was able to solve.

I've found out the hard way, turning a dream into reality is not easy! A lot of it's about failing the first gazillion times and learning from that failure. Thomas Alva Edison once said, "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." And he should know: he supposedly failed at making a workable light bulb thousands of times before he succeeded. (And yeah, maybe that's a little extreme, even for me! But you get the point.)

Oh, and about that stress. Often that comes from a goal being set extrinsically [definition: goal-setting imposed externally] and then expecting yourself to measure up to society's standards. And we could text about that all day and not solve it. (Don't even get me started on standardized tests.)

Like I told my friend Billy when he was working out kinks in his virtual reality app:

  1. Do something you love doing, whether it's improving your distance running time, creating a graphic novel, or inventing an app;
  2. Set a goal for yourself; and
  3. I bet you'll discover that driving force that propels you to practice and repeat and fall down and pick yourself up again until you succeed. (NOT like when a teacher or parent tells you you're not trying hard enough—that's where the stress comes from.)

And stick with it. Edison said, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." And who would've been p.o'd if they'd known they were that close.

So, bro, let me flip your question:
Have you ever tried to do something that everyone else said was impossible? How'd it feel to actually make it happen?

Wink, wink.

Your Partner in Time Travel,