Success Is Like Wine, Better With Age: Why You Shouldn't Be Working This Hard In Your 20s

by Lauren Martin

Life. What a disappointment you are. Miles away from the idealized version of my childhood, you’ve proven to be a daunting black hole filled with regret, disappointment and one failure after another.

You’ve bombarded me with illusions and teased me with fantasy versions since the moment I left my childhood behind and entered “the real world.” But, worst of all, you’ve burned me.

Utterly exhausted, I’m in my twenties and feel like I’ve been working for 20 plus years. I feel like I’ve been running the rat race for too long and I’m ready to opt out, quit and lie on the ground in defeat. Because I’m just so tired.

I’m tired of the competition -- the idea that I’m always going to be second to the man, woman and newcomer in front of me.

I’m tired of thinking about how there is always going to be someone smarter, wealthier and more successful. I’m just so tired of working so hard and feeling like I’m getting nowhere.

As I contemplate my forfeit, I can’t help but wonder, when did I even sign up for this race? When did everyone start running around me and expect me to follow? When did success become a prize I must win before my 25th birthday? When did 20 become the new 40?

Somewhere between Mark Zuckerberg and David Karp, 20-somethings were placed under a ridiculously high standard of achieving success before receiving a rental car license.

Before our 21st birthdays, we are forced to come face to face with our inadequacies, where suddenly graduating from college isn’t enough anymore. Inventing a million dollar company is the new standard and being 20 and doing nothing is just, well, frowned upon.

Upon answering the inevitable question of “What do you do?,” we’re expected to give answers that astound and garner respect. We’re supposed to be enviable, established and impressive.

We’re supposed to have good jobs, life goals and a career path that will leave our parents' friends in awe. We’re supposed to be years, months and days away from making our first millions, or at least a name for ourselves.

However, in the process of living up to this new standard, we’re forgetting to be what we really are, 20-somethings.

We’re forgetting to be young, wild and uninhibited. We’re forgetting that these are the times we’re supposed to be making mistakes, learning lessons and trying things out. When did 20 become about sticking to a path we're not even know we’re ready to walk down yet?

I think it’s time we took back our twenties. It’s time we redefine what it means to be a 20-something. It’s time to explain to the world that your twenties aren’t about making millions or creating a name for yourself, but living anonymously and wholeheartedly.

Because our twenties, and the rest of our lives, should be about enjoying life, not working until we forget what it’s like to be young.

You have your whole life for success

The best part of success is the chase of it. It’s the anticipation, the unknown and the distant mirage of your success in the future. It’s like climbing for months to reach the top of Mount Everest. It wouldn’t mean anything if a helicopter just dropped you off there.

It was the journey, the climb that was so exhilarating. The top is the goal and the climb is the adventure. The top is when you realize there is nowhere to go but back down again.

Because when you reach success in your twenties, you’ve plateaued. You made your fortune, your name and now you must work on maintaining those things. And maintaining something is never as fun as creating something.

So why do you want to spend your whole life guarding your career and your work instead of making it? Why do you want to get to the end so quickly?

Fortune and fame get old, but the dream of them never does. Live in your dreams, relish them and let them be your companions and motivation for the exciting journey ahead.

You worked hard in college... and look where it got you

For some of you, it was high school, for others, college. You spent those beautiful, carefree years stressed about GPAs and resumes.

You spent days you could have been lying on the lawn with your friends, in the library, huddled beneath textbooks and copied notes. You studied for hours to achieve that perfect score when you could have gotten by with a B and a handful of amazing memories.

Looking back on it now, where did it all get you? Where did all that hard work and all those perfect scores bring you? Further than all those kids who were enjoying themselves and getting their work done on the side?

If you forget everything you crammed for in college, at least take away the idea that, in the end, it all works out... so you may as well have some fun along the way.

The best things in life take time

Success is like stew, it's best to let it marinade and cook slowly for years until you’re finally ready to dish it out. Because “good things take time. Great things take a long time. And the best things take the longest time.”

No one’s looking at the girl who peaked in middle school, but rather the unnoticed one who blossomed after college. She’s the one who will have the attention and fame long past the forgotten years of the girl who achieved the height of her hotness at 14.

Don’t be the girl who peaks in Abercrombie sweatpants and Juicy track jackets. Take your time and blossom when you’re ready to finally be noticed. That's when success will be the sweetest.

No one takes you seriously anyway

Being in your twenties is like being a freshman again. You are below the radar, the bottom of the food chain and basically ignored. You are not expected or really allowed to hang out with the seniors or party with the upperclassmen.

So rather than trying to hang out with the older kids, why don’t you just enjoy the freedom that comes with being unimportant? Because once people start taking you seriously, you can’t get away with those crazy antics you used to.

You can’t be that weird freshman again after you’ve established yourself as a cool, older kid. Enjoy your time as the kid no one is taking seriously because it’s more fun to enjoy it than to fight it.

Success is for those who no longer have their youth

Success is like fine wine, better with age. It's for those who can appreciate it, understand it and afford it. It's for the old, established and burnt out. Like fine wine and nice cars, it's all they have.

Because when you're young, the world is your oyster. When you're young, you can do anything. When you're young, you have no inhibitions, ailments or anything holding you back. You can do anything you want at a moment's notice.

You can explore the Grand Canyon or take off to Europe. You can go to clubs and get in fights at the bar. You can stay up all night and party all the next day. You have no stiff joints or mortgage payments. There's no real pressure or expectations. It's just you and the closing horizon of your youth.

When you're old, your success and memories are all you have. You no longer have the energy, excitement and idealized fantasies of your youth. You can't do all those wild crazy things you could do in your twenties. You have nothing but aches, pains and your successes.

Enjoy your youth for what it is and let your success age naturally and gracefully... because it will taste so much better when you can afford some nice glasses to drink it from.

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