In your life, you will do work for free. This is amazing.
When you work for free, you free your work. You work without permission, you work without constraint. At least, if you do it early.
Here’s the life cycle: in order for someone to want to exchange with you, they have to have some confidence that they’ll get what they want. In order for that to happen, you need to have some evidence to present. This is the classic paradox: “I can’t get a job without experience, and I can’t get experience without a job.”
Of course, that paradox is easily solved, but it’s the opposite of what most people making that statement want. Most people lamenting the existence of that paradox are wishing that someone would just give them the job without the experience, but that’s not the false part. The false part is thinking that you can’t get experience without a job.
Of course you can! In fact, you can get much more. You can do whatever you want if no one is paying you; it’s up to you to realize how beneficial that is.
You don’t need an audience to speak. You speak, and then an audience will come. We live in a glorious golden age of social proof – it’s so easy to do things in a way that others can witness. You can write, or speak, or build, or create, or anything. Others can witness in the present or (more likely) the future. You don’t trade your labor for money; you trade control of your labor for money. You can always labor, you can always think, you can always do. How wonderful it is to be free!
And the more you take advantage of that now, the more control you will retain when it comes time to trade. If you wait until someone pays you before you do anything, you yield not only control over your work, but over the development of the identity of your work. If someone pays you to paint houses, now you’re a painter – whether you wanted to be or not. That will start to stick to you, start to carve you. But if you do what you want when you can, then that will be what people generally pay you to do later.
This isn’t just advice for young people, by the way. You died yesterday, every single one of you, and you die every day. Every new day you are born again, ready to choose the expression of this new life, this new freedom.
The world conspires to rob you of your freedom at every turn. Nature makes you hungry and lashes your labor to the pursuit of food, shelter, security. Do not squander what freedom you retain! Do not yearn for more chains, simply because they may give more slack to those you started with. Do what you love and let the world follow. But no matter what, do – before anyone asks.