Around two years ago, the happening of two events made me reflect about my life in the 25-year span that had gone since I started my university courses until now, and how, in minor or major roles, we leave a legacy.
On a Friday of June, I, along with a handful of my classmates, attended the annual alumni gathering of our alma mater. The reason was important, as we were awarded an alumni prize as the first promotion of the Computer Science undergrad degree, the class of 1996. One of my best friends had the honor to receive the prize.
The following day, a Saturday, I was attending a similar alumni event, only from the university I have been teaching since 1998. I was also shortlisted for the first exemplary teacher award along with other fourteen incredible teachers.
Two events have summarized this 26-year lifespan that transformed me from a high school student that liked computers but had expected and attempted to attend electrical engineering with no luck, to a 44-year-old (at that time :D) man that has had, is having, and will probably have a chaotic, weird but fun professional life, encompassing technical work, entrepreneurship, academic and pro bono activities.
The thing is that having these two events so close to each other, I could see how much I've changed. Seeing my classmates reminded me of my almost invisible presence during those first four years of post-high school life. A shy, introverted person that approached the university just as a place to go to class and learn as much as possible, without trying to attain close relationships. A person amazed at the capabilities of many of his teammates, corroborated whenever we had group labs and felt like a snail in a world of gazelles.
The following day, speaking to some of my former students, now seasoned professionals and experts in their fields, I was reminded of how talent alone does not go a long way. It is required, yes, but only passion and the hard work that comes after it takes you to unexpected places. I was the kind of student that myself, as a teacher, would not want to have. But I learned. And while I still know that my talent is what it is, I also see where my long hours, my sense of responsibility and my professional honesty have taken me. Whether I've used those traits wisely throughout my life is another topic, but having had the chance to reflect about my actions during those events, I can breathe for a few seconds, and just smile before going back to work.
The book Principles, by Ray Dalio, describes the author's approach to life and work. I do not think I would be able to fill 500 pages out of my reflections and insights on the topics, but serve this post as an introduction to it.
Let's see where the next twenty five years take us.
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