Where it all started
My earliest experience with audio was the classic iPod nano in grade school. I don't remember the exact model, although I'm sure it was one of the earlier ones in a silver color, and the accompanying earbuds to go with it. I only had songs loaded on there from the libraries of my family members, which I became very familiar with. It wasn't until I was older and upgraded to an iPod touch with some Skullcandy earbuds when I took more control over my own music.
Throughout my teens I'd constantly be using my Sennheiser HD203's for media consumption and my developing tastes in music. I remember the explosion and growth of electronic music, particularly on YouTube in the early 2010's, a timing that influenced me very much. A few more years passed and I saved enough for my first real headphone - a pair of V-Moda M-100 Crossfade's. It has stood the test of time (and admittedly many drops resulting in a ton of cosmetic damage) despite my exclusive use almost all hours of the day.
Eventually though, I felt like there was something more than just a mobile device & headphone combo and was longing for something "better". From there I decided to save for a pair of HD800S' and toward the end of my teens I had a proper desktop setup. It was certainly something I cherished and looked forward to everyday. However, I had suspicions that my dac/amp hybrid was a limiting factor. It's at this point that my recent audio journey has really started.
Where and who I am now
Now in my early twenties, I look back fondly on these points in my life, and acknowledge how my audio experience has always been related to my growth and independence as a person. I realize that a large portion of my time, whether it was through entertainment like YouTube or gaming, or music listening, has been spent with headphones on my head or a pair of speakers not too far from me. Through difficult times audio has always been a relief, and I can’t imagine a path where it wouldn’t have mattered to me.
I also never was able to imagine that a whole audio community existed with wonderful, like-minded people who shared a passion for listening to music. I assumed that I was alone in this and that I couldn’t connect in a meaningful way with audio. I’ll gladly admit that I was wrong; sharing a hobby with people is cool and fun. I’ve delved deeper into this interest of mine, respecting each step of the way as I learn more.
I’ve gained an appreciation for hardware over the years, first with fixing electronics. I find that I enjoy the assembly and disassembly of things and have a level of interest in how physical things work. This paired with my STEM background as an undergrad student dovetails nicely with my audio hobby. Although as I’m writing this, I realize that I have yet to delve deep into the DIY aspect. Maybe that could be a future hobby for me later on. In any case, I think audio will always stick around with me, and I hope that the people will too.