I read an article today about how the lists that the tech world put out like "30 under 30," top blah blah blah under blah, etc. are really really wrong. We should stop doing them. The author of that post from The Huffington Post, Carolyn Gregoire, writes about some things that I want to think more about and talk about here.
All these lists focus on one thing: how young you are and how wonderful you must be for doing something awesome like becoming a CEO at a certain age where most normal people don't. There has always been this obsession with young people doing cool and awesome things, but now it is more than ever focused on tech blogs and media lists focusing on the success of young people in their career. These lists are making it hard for anyone over 40 to be seen as someone doing something great. Why can't we just recognize greatness at any age? Age should not be part of a discussion in whether or not you are successful.
I am turning 30 in a couple of months, and this article stuck out to me because soon, I will never ever be able to be on a list like this. I never made it on a list like that and for some reason, that makes me sad. What if those lists didn't exist? Then, I wouldn't be feeling like this. I bet I am not alone.
I also start to think about what I have done later on in my career in my 20s. I have learned so much over the course of my 20s, and I think as I move into my 30s, I am more in a place than ever before where I should be celebrating my successes. If it took me longer to do it in my 20s, then fine. We need to stop putting so much pressure of people at certain ages as to what success should look like for them.
Make success whatever it should be to YOU and have it be at whatever time in your life you want it to be. It should not be relative or contingent upon an age.
In my 20s, I was and still am obsessed with doing my best. I actually don't think that will change just because I am turning 30. I am already stressed out enough. I don't need the media constantly comparing me to people. I compare myself to people already and don't need them doing it to me as well. Playing devil's advocate, I do think that it helps to keep 20-somethings motivated to do more and more with their time. When you see these lists, you start asking yourself questions... Are you good enough? Are you doing enough? All these thoughts start streaming through my mind when I see these kinds of lists... Why don't I have my own company? Why am I not a CEO?
I can tell you why... I AM NOT READY FOR THAT. What I am ready for is to learn as much as possible in my 20s to prepare me for my 30s. I am ready to learn as much as I possibly can in my role here at HubSpot. I need to learn how to be the best sales person ever and that is what I am doing right now. Learning. I want to take that knowledge and then in my 30s or 40s or 50s -- who knows when? -- take that knowledge and bring it to another company where I can make a huge difference. I don't know if being a CEO or doing something so fantastic in my 20s would be a good thing for my long-term goals. Don't let these lists and the media tell you what success is for your 20s -- or any time in your life.
Say I had been on one of those lists -- one of those 30 under 30 lists -- by now. That probably would have meant I had started a company. My 20s would have been way different than they were. I don't know if they would have been better or worse. Would I have learned more? Would I be smarter now? Who knows? I don't care, though, because I am secure in what I am doing with my 20s. I made a proactive decision to learn as much as I can here at the company I work for now in my 20s and moving into my 30s even. I want to take that knowledge and experience and do something with it in my 30s, 40s etc. when I am smarter, older and more knowledgeable than I am now. I hope that pays off for me.
Your 20s and 30s are for figuring things out. Like I said, I don't know everything and from what I have seen and even experienced for myself, the older I get, the more I learn and the wiser I become. I should keep figuring things out in my 20s and get really good at what I do so in my 30s or 40s, I can crush it with that knowledge and experience.
Apparently, amazing things happen for people in their 30s. I look forward to it. Bring it on, 30.
Since my 30th birthday is right around the corner, I keep having these weird moments where I am thinking to myself Holy cow, have I done enough? Am I doing what I should be doing? Am I on the right path? All those things that happen to people before a moment that the world has made seem like a big deal. They say your 30s are the time for breakthrough moments. Maybe my breakthrough moment will be in the next 10 years.
Here's my number one point: Later on in your life, you will know more, have experienced more and will likely do better at what you set your mind to doing.
Hopefully, everything I am learning now will help me in my later years in my life. I hope that the things I have learned in my 20s in the business world will set me up for even more success than if I had been super-super-successful (in the eyes of the media) in my 20s. I personally think I have been successful in my 20s. Who is the media or blogs to tell someone what success is in their 20s?
What do you think about not hitting what the tech blogs and tech media says is success in your 20s? Is that okay?
This post originally appeared on Womenpreneurs.