BlogPersonal & Professional Wisdom

Letter to my 21-Year-Old Self

Join us for part one of our three-part series where three localization industry insiders examine where they are today, look back on their decisions and offer advice to their 21-year-old self.

Dear 21-year-old Kathy,


I’m writing to you on a Sunday night at home on the couch, next to your 6-month-old puppy. We’ve been working from home for the last 3 months. We are in the middle of a pandemic like we’ve never seen before. You went from spending 5 months out of the country for work in 2019 to being completely cooped up in a San Francisco downtown apartment in 2020. The biggest lesson you’ll learn in the next decade is that nothing will ever go as planned.

Your 3-year plan to go to law school was concluded shortly after you realized you’re not a fan of politics. What you’ll learn in the next decade is that the guy that you planned to be your lifelong partner did not turn out to be the one. The career journey that you had planned for yourself to be a novel writer has gone a completely different direction — instead, you will start your career as a translator at a publisher. You’ll fall in love with languages and communications. You’ll end up working at some of the major tech companies in the San Francisco Bay Area in localization.

Along your 20s you’ll also learn these lessons:

  1. Even if things don’t go as planned, you’ll survive. And as things continue to not go your way, you’ll learn over the decade that it’s no big deal. You’ll actually enjoy contingency planning.
  2. Take calculated risks. Take the path less travelled. Because unpredictability is the only “plan” there ever is.
  3. If you fail, you’ll get back up. I know it will hurt, and sometimes it may feel like it is the end of the world. But you’ll get through this. You got this.
  4. People and relationships are the most important things in your life. Make sure to always value them.
  5. You’ll not be a millionaire married with 2 kids and a dog by the time you’re 30. And it’s SO totally okay. Because in your 30s, you’ll come to find a love that sweeps you off of your feet. And you won’t look back, because you’re not only in a better place, you’re also a more mature person that understands what it means to be happy.

And here’s a short preview to the things you’ll be learning in your 30s:

  1. Believe in yourself, just as much as others believe in you. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. It’s important to know your self-worth.
  2. Breathe. Let go of the little things. While research has shown that moderate levels of anxiety can boost performance, you’ll need to focus on your emotional agility development to reach the next level.
  3. Make each day count, and always go to bed happy. Stop and smell the roses. And celebrate it every time your puppy made the right choice to not pee indoors. Because as trivial as that celebration may sound, her time on earth is finite. So is yours.

Younger Kathy — I guess all I’m trying to say is that there’s no end to learning, so be gentle with yourself and everyone around you. I’m really looking forward to another decade with you.

Your friend,

33-year-old Kathy

What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Join us for part two of our three-part series to be published next week!