If you’re a twenty-something experiencing even the slightest twinge of self-doubt about your life achievements to date, all you need to do is turn on the radio to feel totally inferior all over again. To take one very glaring example, Taylor Swift’s recent new album sold a record 1 million copies in its first week, and she conveniently titled it 1989 to let us know that, as well as being a hugely successful artist, she is only 24.
The same goes for Adele, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and countless other artists who were selling platinum records while we were still pulling all-nighters over college essays. And that’s just the music side of things. Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, was named the world’s youngest self-made billionaire in 2012, aged just 27. Ouch.
With so many youthful successes out there, it can be easy to feel like we’ve made a bit of a mess of things. Where is OUR multi-billion euro company, huh? Where is our international acclaim?
Next time you’re getting down on yourself for not having made the Billboard Top 100 just yet, try to remember that the Taylor Swifts and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world are only a tiny percentage of all the young adults out there. For every global name, there are a million other unknowns who haven’t made their mark just yet.
That’s exactly the point Mark and Anna Vital of Funders and Founders were trying to drive home with their It’s Never Too Late campaign – a series of infographics paying tribute to the many people who found huge success later in life.
Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, didn’t come up with his big idea until he was 35, for example. And CraigsList? The genius idea didn’t occur to founder Craig Newmark until he was 41. Mark and Anna also note that of the top 100 founders on the Forbes List, the most common age to start a successful company is 35. Food for thought.
But if tech isn’t your strong point, and you were relying on your vocal/acting/dancing talents to have earned you global acclaim by now, it can be difficult to trust in the fact that your big moment might suddenly arrive when you reach your mid-thirties. Sadly, some success is just down to pure luck. Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga and all the others do have huge talent, but they were also the one in a million who was spotted at the right age and at the right time, when the market needed someone just like them. If it hadn’t been J-Law cast as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, it would have been the next girl in line.
And despite all of the perks that come with it, would we even want to be global superstars? Unless you’re a hyperactive, attention-seeking extrovert, it’s probably going to be hard to keep up the momentum needed to stay in the spotlight.
One Direction’s Zayn Malik has come under criticism recently for missing out on the band’s album launch and showing less interest in public appearances – but can you really blame him? It must be exhausting having to work to someone else’s agenda, day in and day out. Your life is no longer about you. It’s about your manager, your agent, your audience, maybe even your shareholders.
So next time you berate yourself for doing nothing with your life, be thankful that it’s yours to live, and don’t forget that your light bulb moment might be waiting just around the next corner.