Dear 12-year-old Jason,
You're not going to make it to the NBA.
Not for lack of talent. No, you're actually pretty good, but you're gonna move to New Mexico and get mixed up with the wrong crowd and then you're gonna get lazy and stop trying.
Also, that 6-inch growth spurt you just had, that's not going to repeat itself. You're gonna top out a 5'11". So yeah, short and lazy. Not a good combo for the NBA.
That's okay though, you're a smart kid and you'll do other cool stuff. Let me just tell you this right now, pay attention in English class. I already know what you're thinking, "dude, science is way better. I get to light stuff on fire." You're not wrong, science is super important, but when you're 27 and can't remember if you hyphenate a compound verb (you usually do) it's going to become embarrassing. So pay attention, it's important. I promise.
High school will be challenging, not really the classes, but the experiences. You'll have a lot of trouble finding yourself. Are you a basketball player? A nerd? A skater? You'll never really find your niche so you'll always feel like you're on the outside looking in. Here's why; you're a creative type. You see the world a bit differently than most. You're always gathering information to try to see the bigger picture. You're always weaving together narratives. You're always looking, searching, hunting for more. It's actually kinda cool.
Oh, and on top of all the angst and confusion of high school, Pops is going to get sick.
It's going to be bad. Really bad. You're going to sit next to him while he's in the hospital. You're going to watch him shiver and struggle to breathe. You'll wonder if he's going to make it. If he'll ever come home. If he'll ever shoot hoops with you again. If he'll ever give you a hard time again.
Here's what happened, he was working several 80-100 hours weeks and somehow got a gnarly infection and went septic. Literally, his blood was poisoned with a bacteria from the infection.
He'll come home, but he won't get back to normal. He won't have the stamina he used to. His mind will be foggy and he'll become forgetful. It'll force him into early retirement. A few years later, he'll be diagnosed with Alzheimer's and every day will be worse than the last.
You'll never be the same.
But you're gonna go to college, Texas Christian University. You'll make some mistakes. You'll have fun. Probably too much. You'll make lifelong friends. Seriously, freshmen year you're going to meet someone named Tito. He seems strange at first, but stay close to him. You'll have so many crazy, random, fun times with him. Stuff like moving motorcycles to dorm rooms, building 100-gallon fish tanks, and dragging him on a snowboard through the frozen streets of Ft Worth. Oh, and while we are on the topic of college, don't even fucking pretend to think about getting student loans. They're the worst. Rob a damn bank before you get those.
After college, you're going to wander a bit. You'll work some, let's call them less than exciting jobs and not really enjoy your life. Because like I said before, you're a creative type, and doing data entry isn't your jam. Don't worry, it won't last long. You eventually go to graduate school. Hate to break it to you little buddy, you're a nerd.
You'll attend the University of Texas and get a Master's Degree in Advertising. After that, the world becomes your oyster. You're a copywriter now (see English class was important). At first, you move to Dallas to hone your craft. You'll learn from some of the best creative minds in the city, then you'll get transferred back to Austin to help them get their new office off the ground. Then, the timing will work out perfectly and you'll do something crazy. You'll pack up your car and drive for 4 days until you get to Seattle. Don't worry though, you're not alone. Tito is there. I told you, stay close to him.
No, you're not going to make it to the NBA, but you're going to make it. Not like, getting rich or famous, but you're a good copywriter. Eventually, you'll become a freelance copywriter for a while and let me just say this, enjoy the ride while you can. It's a lot of work, and you'll have to hustle, but it's some of the most fun you'll ever have.
Let me leave you with this, just trust yourself, follow your heart (even though you'll break it several times), and most of all, stay curious.