A note to a soon to be 25 year old me from a soon to be 30 year old me.
Dear almost 25 year old Tom,
You’re going to go through some heavy stuff. It’s going to be absurd at times. You’re going to get your heartbroken a time or two. But you’re also going to meet incredible people that take your breath away and who make you a better person and you’re going to know what love means. You’re going to realize what you can do to help shape Indianapolis and you’re going to be blown away by the impact you will have.
Look around, most of the people in your life right now won’t be there in five years. Many of the people that matter the most to you now won’t be part of your life. And you’ll be okay for it, in fact, you’re going to come out way ahead.
Don’t tolerate someone having an affair in your marriage, I know your gut is to fight to make it work, but that’s not something that deserves a second chance. Walk away, you’ll thank me.
Those people you’re crafting your vision of your organization with? They’re going to be gone too. Call it a difference of opinions, but you’ll be better off for going at it on your own. In fact, don’t wait so long to do it–I can’t begin to describe how much better it gets after you break away and do your own thing.
You’re going to change the lives of kids through will and stubbornness. There are going to be a thousand people that will tell you Nine13 will never work. That you’ll fail. They’re wrong.
You’re going to work harder than you ever worked before, 70 and 80 hour weeks will be the norm for a while. Sleepless nights and months without a paycheck are in your future. But you’ll be strong and you’ll get through it, and it’ll shape who you are in the second half of your twenties.
You’re going to wind up rebuilding Nine13 into its modern day version with people you’re fortunate to call friends. Don’t brush off the skills of the goofy intern that will become your 2nd full time hire, and realize that you make your work-wife put up with a lot from your antics and make sure to let her know she’s appreciated and a huge part of why Nine13 is what it will be in 2016.
And as you get close to 30, you’re going to try and understand why you get to see your 30th birthday and Jim and Denver didn’t. You’re going to struggle with the fact that two of the people you were closest with in life never saw that milestone. People are going to tell you that 30 stings, and while it does, it’s going to be for a totally different set of reasons than they mean.
Don’t be afraid to fall in love again, because quite honestly, single late-twenties Tom is just fine and while you’ll hold your own being single, you’re better off as part of a team. And, even as you approach 30, sometimes a little supervision is required.
And I’ll tell you, the night of January 15th and the morning of January 16th of 2016 will be the single hardest moments of your life. You’ll know what is happening, you’ll understand this is just the way it is, but you’ll never be prepared to sign the paperwork that you know will end Denver’s life. But you’ll also understand that she asked you because she trusted you to do it. You’ll also cherish those last days, hours, minutes, and seconds with her. And for goodness sake, thank those nurses who helped you make a bed out of a couple chairs so you could keep holding her hand like she asked you to do.
You’re going to be thrust into a spotlight that you were never really prepared for when Nine13 grows. You’re going to have responsibility for employees, sponsors, donors, administrators, students, and families. You’re going to spend more time cultivating relationships than you ever imagined. You’re going to be frustrated at the lows and elated at the highs and you must keep moving forward–because you’ll continue to shape your world. Be thankful that you’re in the position you are, and don’t forget to look around every day and realize how magical of an experience this is, after all, most people don’t get to build something from nothing and see it create as many smile as you do.
You’re going to learn that you’re a sucker for brunettes, that you want someone with as sharp of a wit as you have and who can put you in your place when needed. You’re going to realize that dating is a hilarious process that comes with lots of good stories along the way.
Mostly, the difference between being 25 and 30? You’re going to finally know who you are, what you can do, who your real life long friends are, and that you can survive anything.
-th (in five years)
(P.S. don’t sell your motorcycle, you’ll regret it)