Do you ever feel an overwhelming sense of contentment and well-being? Do you sometimes muse to yourself, “Hey, maybe it’s okay that I haven’t really done anything with my life yet. After all, I’m only in my twenties. Who’s ever accomplished anything by 22?”
Here is a list that will cure you of such complacency and help you reach your full potential of quivering self-loathing and crippling self-doubt. I give you the list of teenagers who have already done more with their lives than you have (note: the antidote to this deadly list is to remember that even though these five kids exist, so does Lindsay Lohan. She peaked early and we all know how that turned out):
1. Nick D’Aloisio
British-Australian Nick D’Aloisio is a 17-year-old entrepreneur and computer programmer with interesting hair. In addition to growing his own gravity-defying hair, D’Aloisio recently sold an app to Yahoo! for $30 million. As a teenager, I also sold apps, but they were usually about $7 a piece. They were more commonly referred to as, “appetizers,” and I was a waitress. The app, known as Summly, condenses news stories into 1,000, 500, or 140-character summaries, kind of like what I’m doing here, but with less snark. While Nick’s accomplishments might make you feel like an underachiever, at least you’re not the person who handed over $30 million to a 17-year-old, no matter how impressive his coiffure.
2. Akrit Jaswal
Now 19-years-old, Akrit Jaswal is considered a medical genius. Originally, from India, Jaswal became renowned locally for his intelligence early in life. Though not a doctor at the time, he performed his first surgery when he was seven, when a neighboring family too poor to afford the medical bills asked him to separate their daughter’s burnt, fused fingers. At 12, he began undergraduate courses in medicine. By 17, he had begun his masters in applied chemistry. He has vowed to dedicate his life to finding a cure for cancer. Also, one time, he was on Oprah. Just in case it makes anyone feel better about themselves, to be fair, you should know his Twitter is pretty underwhelming.
3. Katie Ledecky
You may remember Katie Ledecky from last year’s summer Olympics. At 15, she won gold for the 800 meter freestyle. At 15, I was well known on the indoor track team for having a shockingly slow 800-meter time, given that I was in fact not dangerously obese. She is my personal favorite on the list, because she’s the same age as my youngest sister. Last summer this provided fodder for a lot of jokes of the, “Hey Mo, what are you doing with your summer vacation? What’s that? Watching all three seasons of Vampire Diaries? Well, Katie Ledecky won a gold medal,” variety. I’m ashamed to say, it made me feel a tiny bit better about being an unemployed recent college graduate living at home.
4. Hailee Steinfeld
Nominated for an Oscar at the ripe-old age of 14 for her role as Mattie Ross in the Coen brothers' True Grit, Hailee Steinfeld has definitely accomplished more than you. She’s slated to star as Juliet Capulet in this year’s film Romeo and Juliet, and her red carpet frocks are always lovely and age-appropriate, which indicate her immunity to the twin pitfalls of child stardom — descending into oblivion or spiraling into a schadenfreudian train wreck. She gets bonus points for knowing Matt Damon, another person who accomplished more in his teens and 20s than you have.
5. Alexandra Adornetto
Alexandra Adornetto is an author of children’s and young adults’ novels, including two series, The Strangest Adventures and the Halo trilogy. Adornetto is actually 20, but her Wikipedia page is peppered with such gems as, “She didn’t even consider writing a novel until she was 13.” When I was 13, the biggest challenge I considered undertaking was being subtler when picking my nose, so Alexandra gets a spot on the list. The online plot summaries of her books were a little too convoluted for this average-joe 20-something to grasp, except to say, they reminded me a bit of Twilight, but with angels, confirming my suspicions that a child could have written that series.