When I complain to my friends about a recent spat of not being productive, they often remind me of the occasional 10 hours I spend forgetting to eat while hunting down a bug. When introducing myself, I am always clear that, most of the time, I am either busy, or trying to be busy. Everything to me is work, everything that makes me proud of myself is work, everything in my future will, hopefully, be more work. The entire concept of retiring to me is madness. I never want to stop working.
This is often mistaken as an unhealthy obsession with work, which is not entirely true. I am not torturing myself every day for 10 hours just so I can prove myself, I'm doing exactly what I want to do. I'm 21 years old, I can drink and smoke (but never do), I can drive (but I take the bus anyway), I go to college (but rarely attend classes), and in general am supposed to be an adult. Most people my age are finishing college and inevitably taking low paying jobs while they search for another low paying internship at a company so they can eventually get a high paying job that actually uses what they learned in college after they're too old to care.
If I really wanted, I could be at Facebook or Microsoft right now. I even had a high school internship at Microsoft, and probably could have gotten a college one too. I could have spent my time learning all the languages the companies want you to learn, and become incredibly well-versed in everything that everyone else already knows. I could have taught myself proper documentation and proper standards and proper guidelines and kept up my goody two-shoes act for the rest of my fucking life and get congratulated for being such a well-behaved and successful clone.
I am 21 years old, and I'm going to spend it doing what I like doing, working on the projects I want to work on, and figuring out a way to make a living out of it even if I have to live out of my parents house for another 6 months. I am not going to get a job doing what other people tell me is important. While I am often very critical of myself as a person, realistically speaking, my only regrets are the moments I spent not working, or wasting time on things that weren't important. It doesn't matter that I've been working on a project most people dismiss as a childish fantasy since I was 18. It doesn't matter that I have no income and no normal job and no programming skills that would get me hired at a modern tech company because everyone hates C++ and only cares about web development.
I'm not working on something a CEO thinks is important, I'm working on something I think is important. I'm going to start a company so I can continue to work on what I think is important, and every single employee I will ever hire will work on something they think is important. This doesn't necessarily mean its fun - finding a rogue typecast is anything but fun - but rather its something that you are willing to ride the highs and lows through because it is intrinsically important to you, as a person. You should not wait until you're 35 with a family and a wife to worry about. Do it now. Do whatever is necessary to make it possible for you start working on whatever you think is important and then do it so hard you can make a living out of it.
Don't waste the best 10 years of your life working on someone else's dream.
(don't waste 10 years of your life forgetting to eat, either. That just isn't healthy)