As a child, spend hours on your grandparents’ porch, at their farmhouse, gazing up at a dark sky covered with stars. They will be spread so densely and in such fine particles that it will look like flour spread on a cobalt countertop. Try to count them, but only until you are old enough to realize the futility of the attempt.
In high school, quietly excel in math and science. Keep your grades to yourself—do not be a geek. Fall madly in love with equations. Have an affair with literature, but realize you are far more interested in the wildly unexplored expanse of the cosmos than that of the human psyche. Join the swim team. While underwater, practice your weightlessness, your shortage of oxygen. Marvel at how prepared you already are. You could fly the damn rocket ship right this minute.
Go to college. It’s okay to be a geek here. They all are. Lose yourself in a physics problem. Emerge from a study session covered in powdery chalk dust, from the tips of your fingers, all down your dark blue jeans, leaving behind a chalkboard plastered with equations and complex mathematics, every square inch of that thing, like an arm covered in tattoos. Revel in the camaraderie, the pure, innocent, unbridled joy that comes from solving the seemingly unsolvable. And the math, the glorious math! Thrive.
People among you, even the best, will decide it isn’t worth it. They will settle for less. For brief moments, you will imagine what it’s like not to care. You will envy their freedom, their lack of direction. You will wonder why you can’t be like them. Research other majors, other career paths, then decide there is no other option. Sit again on that porch, gaze at that royal blue sky, and want more than anything to be up there.