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Tywan Wade Headshot

Through the Eyes of Drive: Insights From an American Teenager

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I'm scared. I'm sitting here, on a Sunday night, in my college dorm room, studying calculus, and I'm scared to death of what's next. It's honestly been this way since I almost died at the age of 4 due to a collapsed lung, but what else is new.

But this scared is a different dynamic. It's the fear of the unknown rather than knowing if I'll wake up tomorrow being able to breathe. You see, at 19 years old, I'm a teenage entrepreneur with a dream of continuing to be successfully so in likes of my heroes -- Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney and Mark Zuckerberg, to name a few. But it's all been quite the magical experience. In three days I taught myself computer programming and created a iPhone application that over 100 professors and programmers from around the world told me couldn't be done. Months later, I had no idea the app that I created for my own use has sold in close to over 40 countries worldwide. So what started from a story of denial and impossibility grew into the opportunity to be one of joy and hope for the young and discouraged as teenagers have written me from all corners of the planet.

But as my story continues to grow (I was recently featured by the reputable tech site ReadWrite), my dreams are becoming a reality. I've been in conversations with tech investors with whom I've respected since I first fell in love with Silicon Valley and teenagers from England to South African have been writing me on how much I've changed my life. I've always wanted to inspire youth and this is the undoubtedly the realization of my dreams coming true, but it hasn't at all been easy.

Although I grew up knowing I had ambition -- majorly because of my parents -- I had a hard time fitting in in high school (often eating lunch in the bathroom during my first year). I never would've imagined that there was a way out of the constant ostracizing and adversity I faced at the time. But like most who had a hidden ambitious agenda, I just turned that pain into drive. When those 100 professors and programmers told me that my dream was simply impossible, I thought about all the lunchtime bullies and decided to conquer the impossible. I got up, went to the bookstore, and purchased every textbook that they had on computer programming. I then took a Stanford course overnight on app development and, in the next week, I did what every single one of them had told me couldn't be done. I accomplished my dream and created a weather iPhone app with an unique algorithm to boast. And now, I'm preparing for the greatest challenge of all -- expanding this little app into a tech empire.

But the greater purpose of this piece is for the world to understand that I'll never be the same again. Most teenage entrepreneurs aren't. There comes a time in everyone's life where you truly learn how to fly and you're changed forever because of it. Although my statement may seem like something out of JK Rowling fan fiction, I think it's necessary for any one to understand this. You see, forever more in life I won't be able to listen to the body politic or constant buzzing on my Facebook pages that tells me to be anyone else but me. There is no company man track. I've already chosen the difficulty of dependence and I feel like a better person because of it. What I know for sure is that what you put out into the world comes back. It's Einstein's third law to the 10th power. What a wonderful lesson to learn at a such a younger age, right?

Well, it depends how you look at it.

It's honestly quite difficult being an entrepreneur. When people of the likes of my best friends, journalists, or even my parents ask the daunting question of "What's next?" I'm somewhat dumbfounded on what to say. Or better yet, what to reveal. I'm part hopelessly optimistic of the future and part aggressively ambitious in this very moment with the hopes of consistently pushing my vitality to its bounds. But I think it's something that every entrepreneur must go through. This is a spiritual journey above all else. No matter politician, or comedian; chef, or writer; programmer, or actor. We all have to take these worrisome steps to create clarity in our vision for living the lives of our wildest dreams. Even as a reporter clairvoyantly pointed out to me the other day, it's hard to be so young and in the pursuits of having an established career.

I couldn't agree more. It's that tenacity that has became the concept in which I live by. If someone says "no," there's another way, simple as that.

I also made a conscious decision at a very young age that I wouldn't do certain things: No drugs, no alcohol, no breakdowns due to overwhelming pressure. I guess for the same reason as my idols, but it takes a certain type of person to be as focused and driven as I want to be. Somedays I wonder who I am trying to impress, but every time the answer comes back to myself. And as soon as I begin to self-analyze my daily purpose of this journey, I understand that I am here to inspire others. No complaints, all bliss because that is my passion. So although some may be confused why I'm being so poignantly honest in what may be my introduction to you, the intrigued reader -- it's because it's important. I never know when my last moment may be. So whenever I can be seen and heard, I want the philosophy to be understood that the body politic that tells you you can't is most often wrong. It is true when it was said that, "If you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can move mountains." And even more so, I believe more than anything else that you can speak things into existence -- no matter the age. I know I did.

So, as I continue live everyday as if it's my last, I hope that all I've done -- or am doing -- is inspiring others to dream beyond what has many have falsely scripted their own circumstances as reality. You have a dream, achieve it. You want to create an app, code it. No matter what age you are it's important to understand that you can do impossible things. Those 100 professors and programmers that told me that I could not teach myself computer programming were obviously wrong, and it was majorly because of my age that they said so.

For as long as I live, I will continue to slay the dragons that are a part of everyone's fairytale. There was a time of defeat (as there had been in my childhood), but I rose above it and did the impossible. And although this fairytale may be a timely journey, you can too.