September 8, 2021

CyberSec and my father are freaking me out!

Hi guys, sorry the title is so vague but here it is:

i’m currently 19 years old, gonna be 20 on sept 20th! i dropped out of college after the first semester of my freshman year finished due to a whole shit ton of mental health issues and not even a clue as to what i wanted to do for the rest of my life. My father suggested I drop out and start self teaching myself how to code and for 2 years that’s exactly what i’ve been doing. I’ve taken courses, gotten certificates, but now i’m back in an online college getting my Associate’s Degree so I can go to SANS.

I’m currently panicking, crying, and incredibly stressed out because as per usual, I love getting my dad’s approval especially since I’m a “computer nerd” like him. Anyways he suggested I don’t get into cybersec due to the amount of things i’d have to learn and the nonstop working and studying for the rest of my life. Now I gotta ask, is this true? Am I actually going to be working and studying for the rest of my life? He told me i’d end up having no life and to simply stick to Python which is what i’ve been learning for the past 2 years.

In reality, i’d love to have a life when i grow older but I also want to become a pen tester and help the world as much as I can. I wanna become the best of the best so i was just wondering if you guys can give me some tips about anything and everything related to the cybersec industry. I know i’m going to have to study and work my ass off but i’m willing to do it.



Plan to work and study your whole life regardless of what you do, that is healthy. First and foremost do what you enjoy. Second do what will be needed in 5 years not what’s needed now. What will always be in demand are disciplined people who can chose to learn what ever skill they choose. Strive for that and you will be happy.


Certain parts of ‘tech’ move fast and others are slower. If you want to be an expert for the rest of your life in something and have 10 years to dedicate to it take a trade (carpenter springs to mind) that moves slowly. Programming can be slower than operations in terms of speed of change so he has a fair point. Also out of fashion languages can still be worth a lot in the contract market, just ask any COBOL developers (they will likely be in their 60’s). Also work life balance is really key to staying vaguely sane and not burning out so even if you did go into cybersec keep that in mind. Good luck!!


I work 40 hours per week, maybe 45 if we’ve got something going on. I currently spend 5-10h outside work on personal professional development but that’s not a strict requirement.

There are plenty of workplaces that will happily burn you out, work you 60h+ per week, etc. I’ve been there. The key is to leave – there are plenty of other workplaces that take employee health seriously, and once you’re in the field, you’ll likely be very in-demand.

You will still need to be resilient in the face of adversity though. Shit will break, and it might be your fault sometimes. Stuff gets hacked too. You’ll need to manage your stress response in those situations. Will you be able to manage that?

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