Every year, Forbes magazine creates a list of the 30 most influential people under the age of 30. They include a variety of categories, from science and business, to entertainment, sports, and art.
On the list are common household names such as Lena Dunham (27, ugh), David Karp (27), and Maria Sharapova (26). There are also names we may not recognise, but people who’ve created, or who control, globally influential, multi-million dollar entities we inevitably do.
It seems as if all these people are on the news, on social media, everywhere, all the time. Yes, I know these people are immensely successful and so young—thank you for giving me more reminders than my alarm snooze. I admire all of them enormously—but I can’t escape the crippling anxiety every time I hear of their astonishing accomplishments. People so close in age to me, yet with a lifetime of achievements already in hand—what will I have done by age 30?
To be completely honest, I am terrified of not being remembered. I fear I’ll pass on from this life with my name and achievements erased from everyone’s memories and Internet histories. I worry that as I continue to build a career for myself, I will never accomplish anything worth being noted. I feel uneasiness over being another negligible number in the sea of seven billion, soluble just like the salt. I personally could never settle for just being just another one in the vast ant colony.
To me, there is nothing romantic about stagnation. I cannot find any satisfaction in laying idly and calling my life “set.”
“Fame” is a deceitful word—a word I despise associating any part of my goals with. However, it really is just the alter ego of “recognition”—a term we all feel more comfortable striving for.
Herein lies the disparity though: When the world’s most successful people—most likely all the people on the Forbes list—started building themselves, they probably aspired to achieve recognition, yet never “fame.” If any of you 30 are reading this (hahaha), please correct me if I’m wrong—but I bet your dreams were to reach the top of your field first, and as a consequence, you would receive mass respect for your triumphs.
The desire for success always trumped, or completely buried, the wish for “fame.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting recognition–it’s simply a quality of ambition.
Ultimately, I crave feelings of personal accomplishment—I hope to always be satisfied with the work I’m producing, enough to call myself successful. I never want to reach a point where I’m striving to be “famous,” but I would be frozen in stagnation if I was not working to gain respect and recognition from others through my work. I would be “settling” if I was not continuously internally wrestling myself to be the best I humanly can.
This anxiety, this worry and pressure from these successful ‘under-30’s’—it’ll serve as some motivation for now.
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