Sometimes it takes meeting a person with novel views on life and a drastically different background to make you reevaluate your own. In my case, the catalyst was a person named Lachlan. They were an impossible spectrum of colors when I first met them in the summer before my senior year of high school, when they had just moved from Pennsylvania to San Francisco at age sixteen for a web development internship with Hack Club, the nonprofit organization that had first gotten me interested in coding.
Initially, we bonded over small things, like shared music interests and an affinity for art, but as I spoke with them and learned more about their story, many of my long held assumptions came crumbling down. Growing up, I had often felt trapped, being caught up with school work and the trivialities of high school life. My hopes and visions stayed within the confines of my head, and creative ideas remained ideas, untouched and undiscovered. In the future, I’d think. Soon, I’ll get out of here, I’d assure myself. Tomorrow, I’d say. Learned helplessness, if you will. In stark contrast, Lachlan is the epitome of pursuing passions full force. In the realm of coding and design, they bring possibilities into fruition– artistic expression in an unlikely form. They are young and ambitious, and have their eyes set on making an impact as they further Hack Club’s mission of radical inclusion and accessibility through their development of the website.
While I sat alone in my room, being interested in everything and nothing at all, here they were moving out alone across the country to pursue their interests at all costs, even opting to live in a sleeping bag on the company founder’s bedroom floor. They had earned enough credit to graduate high school early, and for lack of a better phrase, they are going places. Lachlan is possibly one of the most talented people in their field of design and web development at their age, and is accomplishing more than most people would ever dare to strive for. They live life boldly, radically, and unapologetically, making leaps and bounds with every completed project, proposed idea, and tentative line of code. They’re headed to NYU in the fall, and I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll accomplish great things in the near future.
Although I’ve only gotten the chance to hang out with them a few times during their periods in San Francisco, they’ve made me realize that if I want to catalyze change, if I know what I want, and if I want to move forward, I have to be the one to actively reach for it. No matter how common it is to sit back and follow the norm, a strong enough drive is enough to bring even the wildest goals into feasibility. Lachlan is a breathing reminder that my fate is in my own hands, and that it’s my own responsibility to actively try and live instead of just exist.