On the anniversary of the great American tax tradition I shall turn thirty-five, or what I like to think of as not quite half-life but getting there sooner than later. I’m counting on medical science to cure everything in another ten years so that as I grow older all I have to worry about is which dialect of Chinese I need to learn in order to shop for groceries, pay bills, and play World of Warcraft.

As I turn older I find myself pondering more, playing chess with life’s problems instead of checkers. From what I’ve witnessed of growing old I’ll continue to refine this “chess game” until I’m sixty when the game switches to bridge. This is followed by playing Parcheesi around seventy and then a graceful move to Chutes and Ladders sometime around eighty.

I come from a small farming town land-locked in South Central Alaska. A place where the gravitational pull of family, unintentional pregnancies (also family), fear, and complacency (a form of fear) have a firm grip on the population. It’s hard to make it out and even harder to stay away — to make your home elsewhere. There is no secret sauce to what I have done with one exception, I never stop working on my confidence.

Don’t wait for the perfect time to take the next step in life because it will never come. No amount of preparing, planning, saving, learning, building, or gathering can be done to counter all the contingencies of life. It’s impossible. Sure it’s important to try and do those things but don’t wait for the planets to align themselves before you take that other job, move to another state, go to college, change professions, start a business, or marry the love of your life.

All that is really necessary to take the next step is to have confidence that you will be able to stand up to the problems that are sure to come and that you will find a way to fix them or path around them. In my experience building confidence takes patience, education (which is gained through patience), skill (acquired through education), knowledge (gained by the previous three) and intelligence (everything combined).

As for being cocky, well that just comes with a quick wit, old age, and a gorgeous blonde.