To what extent is one responsible for how accomplished one can be in life? Many assume that hard work is all that is needed. Personally i'm in college, and i've been getting A's because of hard work. I am however almost tormented by the thought that alot of my childhood was spent doing pretty much nothing. John Stuart Mill was fluent in Latin and Greek by the time he was twelve or so, because he was pushed so hard by his father. Mill was an accomplished man off course, and most people could not do the same things as he did even if they worked hard later in life. Should one just give up trying to excel academically if one has not had a privileged childhood as he did?

John Stuart Mill was a childhood prodigy, as you say, but in later adolescence he suffered a "nervous breakdown" (probably depression) which he thought was caused by too much intellectual work as a child. So, at the same age you are now, he was not very functional. He also died when he was 67--not a long life by today's measures. There are many routes to academic accomplishments; perhaps hard work is the only thing they have in common, and you know that you are capable of that. In any case, you cannot change the past or guarantee the future--only work with the present. If you enjoy academics and aspire to greatness, I wish you the best of luck!

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