I want to win. I'm not sure what I want to win exactly, either a pat on the back from friends, an e-pat from imaginary friends on the internet, a double take when I tell someone what I did. I'm investing right now in my life, I'm 22 (23 in a week!) and I have no responsibilities. I'm unemployed (haven't looked for jobs, as I don't want to have a boss ever again). I'm investing my time (as I have no money) which is something that cannot always happen. I'm stretching the boundaries of my brain to do the things it can when no one tells me what to do (I like to think of it as wandering in a forest without a compass. It's lonely - none of my friends are thinking about the same problems I am at the depth that I'm thinking about them, but very rewarding. I'm investing to learn things that I will be unable to when I have money.
I like to be ignorant as to how hard a challenge is. I watched an episode of numbers last year about prime numbers (not a computer scientist so I did not know many of the complexity things and ways of finding primes, just a lowly self-taught programmer), and boom, off to the races to solve the primes. I never once slowed down enough to say hey... people have been doing this for a long time... just me and a friend trying to be naive and find a route no one found before. I think that's what gives me a lot of momentum, not putting things into perspective, and gives me motivation to keep working. It's awesome to run the show, to stop working when I get bored, to see and understand the smallest to the biggest details in what you're doing. To know the rationale behind all the decisions. Even if they're small ones, and there's only 100 decisions to make, being able to say "This is why I did that." and give a specific, personal, reason i awesome, rather than making excuses or attributions for why something did or did not happen.
Fantastic and inspiring. You should really consider getting this book: http://www.amazon.com/Algorithm-Design-Manual-Steve-Skiena/d... It's super fun to figure everything out for yourself, but I guarantee you that if you read this book, it'll blow your mind and have you off to the races trying a hundred fascinating things.