I have the feeling I have grown up way faster than any of my friends. I also have no idea what I am doing. I don't know how to manage my money, though I try and assume I am doing it right. I just make stuff up as I go, which works when you are 19, in college, still dependent on your parents, and have only your classes to worry about. That is something I have had to learn the hard way. I know I have probably pissed off some of my coworkers by taking the "throwing darts in the dark" approach to things, but that is always how I have handled things and it hasn't failed me that often.
At every job I have had, I have been the youngest person there. At Joe's Crab Shack, I start 2 days after I turned 17, 17 being the youngest you could start working there. After that, I moved on to Computer Care of Arlington, where it was me, a college guy named Kyle (a senior), and Chris (my boss) (eventually, Geoff came on after Kyle left, I am not sure who is older between the two of us). I left Computer Care after a year and a half to work at a place called VALID Systems. I was the youngest by 10 years-ish. I now work at a place called Institution Solutions with a bunch of great guys whom are, of course, considerably older than me (8+ years).
Sometimes I wonder if I did miss anything not working with people my age. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret any of what I did and would still do it over. In school, all I did was write programs, study computers, how they worked, why they worked, etc... instead of doing my school work, which pissed off a fair share of my fellow students (including my friends). I didn't hang out with people very much, outside of people on the intertubes.
To tell you the truth, I am not even sure if I want to be a (professional) programmer for the rest of my life. I would much rather be a musician, and if I can make that happen, which I don't see why I can't, I will gladly take the job. I enjoy programming thoroughly. My problem is I don't do well working on a single project for months at a time. I suck it up and do my best, but it certainly isn't enjoyable to me.
I guess what I am trying to say is that, even though I have taken a radically different route than my friends, I have ended up in the same boat. I don't know what I am doing or what I am going to do in the future. All I know is "let the chips fall where they may". I have friends whom are entirely too concerned about who they are now that they aren't paying attention to who they will be in ten/twenty/X years. They seem to be even more lost than I am.
So if anyone out there thinks that i had this planned all along, or that I have some kind of plan, you are completely, utterly wrong. And I wouldn't have it any other way. It is too much fun :-).