What’s it like to realize you’re good at something?

2009, I remember waking up in 4am to run 2 miles a day before hours of pre-market research before trading. I was 20. Everyone else is partying and drinking or studying for a sociology exam. Me–I’m taking the world by the horns, man. I have big dreams and college ain’t shit. That was the nascent Pete.

2011, I move to New York. I become a “professional trader”. I make goals to make $100k in my first year. All my managers all the training material, they all said to keep expectations low because almost nobody makes any money their first year. I didn’t care, I would be the exception. 2 years later, I started to think it was a mistake to move here and I ought to just give up already. This is the young Pete.

2013, I became a profitable professional trader. I finally walked into some decent coin by adapting some high probability momentum strategies on unique trading vehicles. I thought I was the shit. I finally figured it out. But you’re never as good as when you’re at your best. I would continue make mistakes, have poor performing periods… wonder if I got lucky, if I would ever figure it out again. This would go on and on for years.

2020 and 2021, I am having the best years of my career. In both years I had made over four times the money I made in my prior best year. Long-term investments were also extremely lucrative. However, on a mental and emotional level, success did not feel real. I often felt horrible about myself. I felt even worse than I did on than when I lost all the money. I started to question the order of how my world works. Dumb money was making more money than so-called “smart money”. Other “professionals” made more than me despite questionable risk management. I saw my accomplishments as absolutely worthless. I vehemently despised trading and wanted to avoid talking about it.

2022, the big profits have plateaued. You know it, I know it–it’s not going to be the same for awhile. Literally everyone I know who trades has had their profits decline. Doesn’t matter what market–equities, options, crypto. How do I feel? Do I feel that crippling self-doubt coming back?

No. I feel content. I don’t really care about trading all that much but I still do it because I’m always going to make money even if I don’t try hard. I don’t think too much about it. I think this is me getting old. I am now the old Pete. 13 years of trading, that’s a long time. Bunch of shit happened–the global financial crisis, the European debt crisis, the second tech boom, the surprise of Trump and Brexit, and the Covid pandemic (and the shocking recovery). Made money through all of it. I’ve seen a lot and I’ve done a lot and it all just becomes a hazy memory. Why would anything make me think differently about myself now?

I don’t know what I’m doing.

I’m washed.

Everyone is making more than me.

These negative thoughts don’t hit as hard anymore. Sure they still exist–I make a bad trade, the thoughts creep in and my mind entertains them. Is it true? Am I a fraud, a loser, a bum? Eh. I order some tacos and put on the ball game… and… nah fuck you, I’m good at this. I’m not the best and I won’t make the most but I’m good and that won’t change. Trading is a hard thing to be good at. I’m blessed.

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