Escaping my age

    It’s hard to explain how much my age has wired my sense of self. It’s a source of comfort and how I learned to introduce myself to the world. I don’t like it, I’m certainly a lot more than this number, so I’m breaking out of it.

    “I’m a 22-year-old Uruguayan,” “I never thought I’d become an investor at this age,” “I moved to the US when I was 18.” The list never ends. If you repeat the same story countless times, you become the first to believe it, wiring yourself through the narrative you tell the world.

    I think young ambitious people need to subscribe to something early in their careers, and more often than not, they define themselves through this idea of potential—this conviction that one day you’ll be great. The problem is that time is a finite thing, so you shouldn’t define yourself by the future. Instead, you should spend more time thinking about who you are today.

    Rupturing from this idea that my age is an integral part of who I am has been an important battle that I’m sure most of us have to go through. However, I think this is one of those battles that happens behind closed doors, struggling in silence, fearing that we are alone in that experience. So I thought it’d be nice to share my path to understanding who I am outside this numerical confinement.

    I think it’s dangerous and lazy to describe yourself as a young kid with potential. Yet it makes sense that it happens—it’s the easiest and safer path. So most ambitious 20-something gravitate towards it, avoiding the bigger question of who they are or why they are valuable beyond this notion of potential.

    My point is that if you define yourself through your age, you fail to ask the bigger question of what for. This happened to me too. I lived my entire life in Uruguay, and I was used to being the best. My environment helped me convince myself that I was meant to do big things, bigger than what I saw in Uruguay then. I wasn’t thinking what I wanted to do, I just had this drive that it needed to be outside of what I already knew. So I left Uruguay, moved to a Kibbutz in Israel, and then to San Francisco to start my college education.

    My drive was and still is immense, and my outputs felt so small compared to my expectations. So how in the world could I introduce myself in any other way than being the kid with hunger that’d be willing to go above and beyond. Why would anyone trust or believe in me if it weren’t for this idea of potential?

    The logic is simple, defining yourself through something you’ve not yet become doesn’t let you understand who you are today. I’m not saying that believing you have potential isn’t great; it certainly is. You need the conviction that you have what it takes to be great, but time is a finite resource, and the promise of potential escapes you faster than you realize, so holding on to it obfuscates the importance of discovering who you are in a more meaningful way.

    I had no choice but to understand this danger of potential when I decided to start my own fund. To raise money, I had to learn how to sell myself and be able to articulate what I stand for in this world. Saying I was a 22-year-old with potential wasn’t going to cut it; why would anyone write a check today if they could wait until I became this future version of myself that I was preaching. Close mentors forced me to move away from that comfort zone of being a promising young kid. How did I want to have an impact? What were some things I’ve already done that I’m proud of? And it’s only after I did it that I started unraveling the present version of who I am, which made me feel incredibly more empowered.

    I guess it’s so enticing for young professionals to define themselves by their age because it poses a really scary question to consider otherwise. What if you ask yourself who you are, what you’ve done, and what you stand for, only to find out that your answer is underwhelming? That would probably suck. And as such, our age becomes the bigger safety net any young ambitious person has, but the mechanism isn’t healthy. Again, time is finite, and if you hide too long under your potential, that might be the only thing you’ll ever have.