No time limit on success

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

On November 14, Forbes released their annual “30 Under 30” list, an expansive encyclopedic list of young people in 20 different industries. A total of 600 “game changers” were spotlighted for achievements they’ve made before they’ve reached the age of 30.

Forbes’ website also described these people as “changemakers,” “innovators,” and “youthful visionaries.” All labels that place importance on their achievements so far.

I read through several of the short profiles included. There are inventors who have created new technology to improve our lives, entrepreneurs who developed new companies to enhance our lives, and artists who have put together new creations to enrich our lives.

All of it is very impressive.

The youngest of this year’s group is 12-year-old Marley Dias, founder of #1000blackgirlbooks, which collects books featuring black female protagonists. So far she’s collected over 10,000 books and will publish one of her own next year, according to Forbes.

Dias, however, is a bit of an outlier on the list which is composed mostly of people in their upper 20’s. Many of whom are the same age as I am.

I have to admit: just a few years ago, reading this list would have made me feel a bit disappointed and upset. Not specifically because I had ambitions to develop a multi-million-dollar company, but just generally from seeing people who have achieved so much in a short amount of time.

It can be easy to slip into the habit of comparing myself to others. So easy to say “look at what they’ve already done. What have you been wasting your time on?”

But that was my way of thinking about myself a few years ago, back when I had just graduated college and realized my high school dream of publishing a novel (or several) was gone. A missed opportunity because I had not spent every waking moment working towards that goal.

I thought since I hadn’t accomplished anything major or life-changing by college graduation, I had already missed my chance to be successful. But as I continue through life, it becomes more and more clear to me that the age when you accomplish your goals is not nearly as important as actually accomplishing them.

I could have simply given up on writing completely, and for a brief time, it was easy to convince myself that it was pointless to continue. I thought myself a writer who would never publish anything, unlike what I had originally planned for my life.

But then I read an article (the link to which I have now unfortunately lost to the endless abyss of the internet) which encouraged people to not give up. The most striking part of the entire thing had been one simple line, which paraphrased was something like this: “I know people who call themselves ‘writers’ who don’t write more than a grocery list.”

That was me, I realized.

From then on, I made an effort to write as much as possible. I didn’t want to be the writer who never wrote anything. If I just moped around focusing on time wasted, then that would just be more time wasted.

After the Forbes list came out last week, I stumbled across an article from entitled “Hey, Prospective Authors: You Have Plenty of Time. Just Keep Writing.” It contained encouragement similar to what I had read a few years ago. It was a reminder that several successful authors were well past 30 years old when they released their most famous works: writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, and George R.R. Martin.

“You don’t have a deadline, don’t have a time frame for success,” said author Cassandra Khaw in the article.

It’s a good reminder for me to not stop writing, and it can be a good reminder for anyone else to not give up on what they want to achieve either.

If you have a moment, take the time to scroll through Forbes’ list. Those people have accomplished some amazing things, and they deserve the praise for doing it in such a short amount of time. But don’t get all riddled with anxiety afterwards, thinking that you’ll never live up to the list’s honorees.

I’ve not published a book yet, and it won’t be any time soon. But I’m confident I’ll get there eventually.

Like the old saying goes: age is just a number.


Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or by phone at 252-332-7206.