be overwhelmed by the unshakeable feeling that there is so much more adventure to be had.
recall that the Recurse Center exists. they're taking fellowship applications. apply on a whim; get accepted. spend the end of summer knowing that everything is about to change in ways that you can't yet begin to fathom.
New York City
live in Brooklyn and hang out with talented programmers from all over the world. have existential crises alongside open-hearted strangers. fall in love with everyone's free-spiritedness and their collective wild sense of adventure. study misinformation, struggle with conducting research, take on unsolved problems with minimal success, come away with a newfound skillset. talk to engineering teams in the valley; to people working in elections integrity, renewable energy, artificial intelligence policy—on some of the most critical problems of our lifetime. decide to move to San Francisco.
receive a cold message from a founder who wants to chat about his startup in stealth, based in Toronto. almost ignore it, but something in the universe tells you to take the conversation. tell him that you're thinking of moving to the valley. jump on a call anyway, and spend the half hour talking about big problems. you would be their first employee. hang up, blown away by his vision and ambition.
contemplate existence and uncertainty and finiteness and belonging. write down everything, and in doing so, find clarity you never even knew was possible. realize that you can't return to the same life, even though it is comprised of a place that has felt like home since the very beginning, with teammates who you love more than you ever thought possible.
write aforementioned founder a letter, telling him that you suspect there may be very few things in the entire world you'd rather do than join him in building out something wildly ambitious, without knowing much more. mean every single word, with every bit of your existence.
meet him in a downtown coffee shop the day after returning to Toronto, hours before he boards a flight to England. spend two hours talking about ambition, inspiration, and creating a story worth telling.
walk away from the conversation with more certainty than ever.
beginning of November
fly out to Palo Alto for a whirlwind 24 hours. meet with an engineering team making serious, measurable, global impact on climate change with renewable energy. admire everyone's dedication to the mission. the team lead describes his own journey here, on doing work that matters and the desire to apply his software skillset to immediately pressing problems. California is burning. his motivations resonate deeply.
drive along the coast on the way back to the airport, with mountains on one side and the East Bay on the other. wonder if you could ever find yourself belonging here; calling it home.
wander the terminals at SFO, watching golden sunlight stream through the windows while writing the words up to this point, somehow knowing that your heart is elsewhere.
interview for a role at a San Francisco-based AI research lab which has been the dream for almost a year now, one which you previously thought was wildly out of your league. it would mean moving to the Bay Area next year and spending four months in the same lab as famous researchers whose work you—and the rest of the world—have obsessed over.
be overwhelmed by nerves during the second technical interview. take a deep breath afterward; talk yourself into being okay if this doesn't work out. wait a week, with the assumption that you're getting a rejection. receive an email on Saturday night at 9PM which informs you that they're moving you to the final round.
the company in Palo Alto calls you. sit in amazement, in awe that you're suddenly holding this precious California dream in your hands.
the rest of 2019
think about adventure and storytelling.
think about the Toronto startup and the tiny, extraordinary team. sit down with each of the three founders and hear their stories, their motivations, and their plans for this place. they're all brilliant.
the research lab in San Francisco asks you to get on a video call, hours before winter break. almost burst into tears in front of the recruiter when she tells you that they'd love to have you as part of their 2020 cohort. it's a scenario which you thought would be impossible right up until this exact moment.
talk to the startup about this decision. they're willing to write a letter to make this happen for you, even though it means that you would be gone for five months. spend four days over winter break thinking through the lifetimes that can happen in five months of an early-stage venture.
think about what California represents to you—ambition, adventure, and the opportunity to make world-changing impact—things which were missing from your life here; things which you spent so much time looking for and never quite found in this city—until now.
realize that these other opportunities will always be around, but this startup—here, now—is once in a lifetime.
realize that what you've been chasing all along is adventure, and helping to build something new in this city on the verge of greatness is exactly the adventure you've been searching for.
say yes to the startup. tell them that you're all-in.
know that you couldn't possibly have done anything else.