You Started From the Bottom Now You’re Here

Hanoi, 2016
Hanoi, 2016

“We started from the bottom now we’re here” – Drake

Dear friend, you’ve accomplished great things in life— yet you want more.

My suggestion: never forget where you’re come from.

Life is hard

We’ve all lived a life full of hardships, and up and downs. No matter how wealthy, successful, or rich we are — we all started somewhere. Most of us started from the bottom, and worked our ways up through life from our bootstraps.

For those of us born into wealth, we might have had to fight other adversities on the climb up. We might have had to work hard to fight the urge to take our lives for granted. Perhaps we had to fight personal laziness. Perhaps we had to fight distractions.

Whatever our origins are, we all have faced lots of difficult trials and tribulations in life.

Enough is never enough

We are all successful in different ways. We are successful financially, spiritually, with our families, or with our own peace of mind.

Yet no matter how “successful” we become, we always want more. We are never satisfied. It is never enough.

A way to find more satisfaction in life is to remember where we started from.

We all look forward into the future, and compare ourselves with others who are more successful than us. But how rarely do we look to the past, and try to remember how humbly we started?

Where did I start?

When I started photography, nobody knew me. I had 0 followers on social media, never traveled, and had a simple camera. Now I am well-known, have many followers, traveled a lot, and have owned fancy cameras.

I have a big ego, and am always trying to tamper it. Rather than trying to seek more fame, more cameras, more prosperity — I am trying to limit myself. I am trying to find more gratitude, and remember my humble beginnings. And in doing so, I have been able to stay curious, humble, and creative.

Ask yourself beginner questions

One way that looking to my humble beginnings has helped me is by asking myself beginner questions.

When I started off in photography, I had a lot of basic questions. I had no idea about technical settings, how to make a good photo, or famous photographers.

Over time, I self-educated myself, and became an “expert.” Yet, becoming an “expert” hurt me. I felt like I knew everything, and had nothing left to learn.

A life without learning is death. A life without growth is death.

So what I had to do was kill my “expert mind”, and give birth to myself again as a beginner.

So nowadays, I like to ask the basic, simple, beginner questions. This helps me challenge my own pre-existing assumptions about photography and life. And this has helped me take on more novel perspectives, from different point-of-views.

My goal in life is to never have a rigid mind — but to always be open, curious, and flexible.

Stay hungry, stay foolish

So friend, I write you this letter to benefit you, and also myself.

Never forget where you’ve come from, hold onto your humble beginnings, always stay hungry, foolish, and curious.


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