Notable Achievements at the Age of 20 (AKA Things Other People Have Done While You Were Busy Worrying About Your Term Paper Or Crying Over Your Ex)

Only a few more days before I say bye to being a teenager. Okay, no big deal. There’s actually just a split second difference between being 19 and being 20. And it’s not as if I’ll be out of the calendar soon. But really, the thought of reaching two decades old scares the hell out of me.  

There’s a sweet sound to being a teen. It is the peak of self-awareness, character development and stupidity. You do the things you want to do, because being a teen gives you the absolute license to do so. It’s the feeling of being invincible and being vulnerable both at the same time. It’s the phase when you gained your friends, knew your true friends, fussed over two mistakes in an exam, left your comfort zone, rebelled over a curfew, overdressed for a first date, cried over a pimple, wished you were thinner, fallen in love, thought you have fallen in love, got drunk, got stoned, and what have you.  It’s that feeling when you want to capture every single ephemeral high that you experience, knowing that it will soon end. But somehow, you just can’t get enough.

And before this becomes a Dear Diary entry, let me give you these eye-opening facts. These are what other people have achieved at the age of 20-29. While I enter this phase as an utterly clueless adult, these people have already gotten way ahead of the race.

At age 20:
  • Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and cofounded Microsoft. (And got richer, and richer, and richer, and…)
  • Egyptian hermit Saint Anthony gave away his inheritance and joined a group of ascetics, eventually becoming the father of Christian Monasticism. (Your iPad is not your life.)
  • Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice, her second and most famous novel. (Note to self:  start writing that story you’ve always wanted to write.)
  • The Greek philosopher Plato became a disciple of Socrates. (It’s never to early to start on philosophy. And I mean hardcore philosophy. It’s Socrates, dude!)

At age 21:
  • College dropout Steven Jobs co-founded Apple Computer. (There’s really something about computer geeks dropping out and starting their own company. Hmm. Maybe I should do this… oh right, I am a techno noob.)

At age 22:
  • Charles Darwin set off as ship's naturalist on a voyage to South America and the Galapagos Islands. (You may or may not believe his theory of evolution, but you cannot deny Darwin’s genius.)
  • James Joyce left his family, his church and his country for the European continent, in order to become a writer. (I remember reading Araby and that blackhole feeling after finishing the story.)
  • Andrew Robinson bicycled across the United States, unsupported, to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund. (Yay for the pandas!)
  • Mark Zuckerberg was approached by Yahoo! with an offer to buy Facebook for S1Billion. Of course, Ballsy McBalls said “No.” (Lesson #132 in standing your ground and knowing how much you’re worth.)

At age 23:
  • English poet Jane Taylor wrote "Twinkle, twinkle, little star." (This is practically the first song I memorized. After this was Eraserheads’ Ang Huling El Bimbo. :D)

At age 24:
  • Johannes Kepler defended the Copernican theory and described the structure of the solar system. (If not for you Johannes Kepler, we would still believe that the sun revolves around the earth. Yes guise, we were THAT important!)
  • Entrepreneur Ted Turner took over his father's billboard advertising business. He later launched CNN. (Which is practically synonymous to TV right now)

At age 25:
  • Orson Welles co-scripted, directed, and starred in Citizen Kane. (I am not the biggest fan of Citizen Kane, but hey, Citizen Kane IS Citizen Kane.)
  • By this age, Charles Chaplin had appeared in 35 films. (Y U SUCH A FASTLEARNER??)
At age 26:
  • Albert Einstein published five major research papers in a German physics journal, fundamentally changing man's view of the universe and leading to such inventions as television and the atomic bomb. (Hands down, you the man Albie!)
  • Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Chereshkova became the first woman to travel in space. (Girl power whudupp!)
  • Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Italy. (At age 26?! K. All those spreading nasty rumors about his missing testicle are just jealz, cos you can’t get any ballsier than this.)
  • Ken Kesey published his first novel, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. (Note to self: you should really start on that story.)

At age 27:

  • Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space. (When I was in elementary, I thought Neil Armstrong was the first person in space. For that, I am deeply sorry Yuri.)
  • Ernest Hemingway published his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. (Note to self: you should really, really start on that story. Now.)

At age 28:
  • The Danish physicist Niels Bohr published his revolutionary theory of the atom. (Oh hi there, high school Chemistry lesson!)
  • Jamaican reggae composer/performer Bob Marley recorded "I Shot the Sheriff." (And the rest, as they say, is musical greatness.)

At age 29:
  • The Buddha decided to renounce the world and abandon family and possessions. (Yes people, he was a Prince. Brush up on your Asian history lessons, or else James will take you down.)
  • English novelist Emily Jane Bronte wrote the romance Wuthering Heights. (*writing that story*)

Nearing the age of 20, I have no composition or company to brag about.  I am still in the process of figuring out what I want, and of plotting ways on how to get there.  But let me share with you one of the philosophies on which this blog was founded.

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to." - Alan Keightley

No single person has achieved greatness status just by adhering to the society’s norms. Always doing what other people expect you to do is just plain BS. Come on, it’s not their life to live, it’s yours! Achievements should never be about money, fame or status all the time.  Sometimes, it’s choosing your own path and waking up with no regrets. It’s doing what you want, failing and trying again. Come to think of it, we shouldn’t be leaving the teenage spirit behind after all. 

With that, we leave you with this v.v. fitting song from The Naked and Famous. Go on, young chums! Chase after your dreams!


How about you? What would you like to achieve before you turn 30?


  1. I remember this song!! Story of our lives. You making me not want to turn 20 now.

  2. Don't worry bebe. You still have a few months to enjoy being a teen. :) And yes, story of our lives.


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