I wrote a letter to myself 3 years ago, when we were transitioning from FLL to FTC. I would never have been able to imagine how different my life would be, just like I have no idea what the next 3 will have in store.
Dear Younger Me,
Right now, it seems like you know everything - like there's nothing life could throw at you that you wouldn't know how to handle. But I can guarantee that the next 3 years will change that perspective. You'll finally learn that there really is a great big world outside this tiny town, and there are so many new people to meet, new things to learn, and new places to see. Knowledge is limitless - and you will never be done discovering new things.
You're about to begin another crazy year in FIRST - but this time it's going to be different. Forget everything you think you know about robots, because everything is about to get 10x better. FTC is going to be the biggest, most important part of your life for the next 3 years, so enjoy every second of it. A lot of changes are coming, but most of them are going to be for the better.
There are going to be a lot of late nights, and many sleepless ones. You're going to meet the greatest people in the whole world, and some of the people you see as role models right now are going to become your closest friends. Don't forget to learn at every single moment - you don't get a second chance to use a drill press for the first time.
Remember that you're in this with you're family. Don't forget to thank your parents - they're going to make a lot of sacrifices for you. People will say how sad it is that we gave up everything for the team, but never forget about what you gain. Don't lose sight of what's really important - because at the end of the day family always comes first. Your team will become your family too. The memories you make with them will last your whole life
You're going to win a whole bunch of awards, get a lot of recognition, but never forget why you started this in the first place. Memorize the faces of kids seeing a robot for the first time, their smiles when they press a button to make it move. Remember that when you don't get the award you wanted, and remember it when you do. You're going to read a book that remind you why you started FIRST when you need it most. Always remember: "You can do more good by being good than any other way." - John Wooden
Most importantly, know when to move on. There will be a time when you realize that your last tournament is just that, trust yourself. It will be sooner than everyone expects, but know that it's the right decision for you. It's not the end of your life, just this chapter. Amazing new things will be right around the corner. Don't be afraid to speak up when it's time to stop, everyone will understand.
Life is going to be different, but really good. Never give up on FIRST, or on yourself. Push through, even when it seems like the code will never work or the arm won't be built in time. Trust yourself, trust your family, and trust your team. Everything will work out, and you'll be living the life you've always wanted to. Never stop wanting to help people, because that's what it's all about. FIRST is going to give you so many chances, it's up to you to take them.
This blog was written by Rachel Hunter of FTC 5972 and FRC 3132. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, sign up on the schedule.