“19 Successful People Who Had a Rough Time in their Twenties”

Thank you, Adam Moerder! This helps calm me down about my recent binge of uncertainty.

19 Successful People Who Had A Rough Time In Their Twenties

Don’t panic, twentysomethings. Here’s further proof that life is a marathon, not a sprint. posted on June 20, 2013 at 12:34pm EDT

 

Jon Hamm

At 27, Hamm couldn’t find any work and was dropped by the William Morris Agency. He vowed to quit acting if he couldn’t get his career rolling by 30. Fortunately, he landed a role on the NBC drama Providence at age 29.

Image by Jason Merritt / Getty Images

2. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah bounced around various Baltimore news stations, including one that fired her for getting too emotionally invested in stories. Her demotion to daytime TV proved a blessing in disguise, and by 30 she had the highest-rated talk show in Chicago.

Image by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

3. Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford

Struggling to make money acting, Ford supported himself as a carpenter. A chance gig building cabinets for George Lucas led to a small part in American Graffiti and the role of Han Solo.

Image by Ethan Miller / Getty Images

4. Tim Allen

Tim Allen

In his mid-twenties, Allen spent over two years in federal prison for selling cocaine. The experience forced him to turn his life around and revive his stand-up career.

Image by Angela Weiss / Getty Images

5. Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig

Wiig spent her twenties working every odd job imaginable, from selling peaches to babysitting to drawing bodies of plastic surgery patients. SNL finally noticed her work with the Groundlings and hired her at 32.

Image by Jason Merritt / Getty Images

6. Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli

To pay for singing lessons and law school, Bocelli moonlighted as a piano bar performer until he was discovered by Luciano Pavarotti at age 33.

Image by Michael Buckner / Getty Images

7. Ang Lee

Ang Lee

After earning his master of fine arts, Lee spent six years as a stay-at-home husband while his film career stalled. Ashamed, he briefly considered a career in computer science until his wife, the family’s sole earner, urged him to continue pursuing his dream.

Image by Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty Images

8. Don DeLillo

Don DeLillo

To focus on becoming a “serious” writer, the award-winning novelist walked away from a cushy advertising gig and moved into a $60-a-month apartment, where his main expense was paying the phone bill. He published his first novel at 35.

Image by Timothy Hiatt / Getty Images

9. Walt Disney

Walt Disney

At 24, he had Oswaldo the Rabbit, his first successful cartoon character, stolen from him by Universal Studios. At 25, MGM told him no one would ever like Mickey Mouse. At one point in his twenties, Disney was so poor that he resorted to eating dog food.

Image by R. Mitchell / Getty Images

10. Suze Orman

Suze Orman

Orman spent most of her twenties working as a waitress. After an attempt to open her own restaurant bankrupted her, she became interested in finance and pursued a career as a broker.

Image by Leigh Vogel / Getty Images

11. R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey

After a successful college career, Dickey suffered so many arm injuries he couldn’t even turn a doorknob without significant pain. Desperate to stay in the game, he began experimenting with the knuckleball, worked his way back into the major leagues, and won the National League Cy Young Award at age 37.

Image by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

12. Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis

While trying to jump-start his standup career, Galifianakis spent a large portion of his twenties as a busboy in an upscale Manhattan strip club.

Image by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

13. James Murphy

James Murphy

At 22, the LCD Soundsystem front man turned down a gig writing for Seinfeld. He was in and out of various punk bands for several years before founding DFA Records at 29.

Image by Rachel Murray / Getty Images

14. Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone

While shopping Rocky around Hollywood, Stallone was so poor he tearfully sold his dog Butkus for $25. Once Rocky was purchased, he bought the bullmastiff back for $3,000 and even gave the buyer a small part in the film.

Image by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

15. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Although Jobs was a millionaire by 23, he became so disliked at Apple by the end of his twenties that his own company fired him. Jobs credited this devastating setback with helping him enter “one of the most creative periods” of his life.

Image by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

16. Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball

During her twenties, Ball was known as the “Queen of the ‘B’s” thanks to her frequent roles in B-movies. Her agent recommended she find a new career, and it wasn’t until 40 that Ball became a household name on I Love Lucy.

Image by Keystone / Getty Images

17. James Dyson

James Dyson

Relying heavily on his wife’s income, Dyson spent the majority of his twenties failing to sell his vacuum cleaner designs to major manufacturers. At 39, he sold his first U.S. patent, allowing him to open his own manufacturing company.

Image by Bruno Vincent / Getty Images

18. Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas

Thomas bounced around several amateur and international hockey leagues before becoming a starter during 2006–2007 season at age 30. In 2011, his Game 7 shutout against Vancouver helped deliver a Stanley Cup to Boston.

Image by Elsa / Getty Images

19. J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling

By the end of her twenties, Rowling was a divorced, unemployed single parent on welfare. After being rejected by eight publishers, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published right before her 32nd birthday and quickly became a best-seller.

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Voldemort Part II: the “Goodbye”s Begin

Feliz Viaje

I believe in proper greetings and proper goodbyes. They are a respect, an honor and a recognition of the people that you are with. They coincide with proper beginnings and endings of cycles, although beginnings and endings tend to mesh together rather than being black and white apart. I’m at the ending of a cycle, a period in my life of intense self-exploration and discovery here in Mexico; and I’ve had to start to say my goodbyes.

Although I still have about two months here, last Monday I said goodbye to my homeroom students. It was my last class with them, and I started off by thanking them for a wonderful year in which they have taught me just as much as I have taught them, if not more. I told them I would miss them terribly next year. Then I told them that I will miss them so because I won’t be back, that I am leaving. Of course, tears filled my eyes as I really let the feeling of leaving sink in for the first time.

I just had a conversation with my soul sister who has become my rock, my guru, my sage during the past month. She always says exactly what I need to hear and has supported my heart and soul as I work through perfectionism and negative thought patterns. We Skyped, and I burst into tears as I thought of when I will have to Skype with her because I can’t just take a cab over to her house.

Last night, my boyfriend and I talked about how much it is going to hurt when I leave. How he wants to figure out some way for it to hurt less for himself, for both of us.

I have these conversations about Voldemort, about my July 22 departure from this place  in which I have created a life for myself, a place where I call myself home more than I ever have before in my life. This is a place where I have come to know myself at my deepest, most authentic level. This is a place where I have come to know people who are real, honest, loving, compassionate… friends who have transformed my world. This is a place where I have had three transformative relationships, each of which taught me something different and helped me along my personal journey of self-discovery and growth. I don’t want to leave this place because of the people I have met here. Leaving them breaks my heart.

You see…

Those students have become my babies, my group, my community. They have taught me how to treat one another with compassion and love, and have helped keep me young and fresh. It was so hard to say goodbye.

And you see…

My friends are absolute loves. Loves of my life. They have supported and loved me beyond expectations and been my rocks through thick and thin (and boy, have I been through some thick). They want the best for me. They respect my space, my boundaries. They love my weirdness and rejoice in my victories. They are friends for life, and they mean the world to me. I don’t really talk about Voldemort with them because I’m afraid of my heart being completely smashed to pieces.

You see…

I have a boyfriend who is an absolute love, the third Mexican I’ve dated while here, and I feel like I’m finally getting it right this time. He has taught me to love and accept myself unconditionally. He has taught me how to receive love because he genuinely wants to give me love. I don’t want to leave that love, hell no. He wants to give me the world, and I want to take it open-heartedly. But how open-heartedly can I do that when I know I’m about to leave? My heart is already breaking at the thought of leaving him.

So, you see…

I am afraid that upon leaving, I will lose all of myself that I have uncovered, all of the precious diamond that I have been discovering and polishing away at for the past two years. Part of me, a big part of me, is afraid to leave this place. Afraid to leave the people I have come to know, myself included. Leaving is the hard thing to do. Leaving is the reason I stayed for one more year.

But leaving is also the right thing for me to do. Leaving the certain for the unknown is scary. It seems dark. It’s unnerving. It’s terrifying. It’s the kind of thing that gets under your skin and into your heart and can bring you down way low. But it also is the brave thing to do. It takes courage. It takes self-respect enough to honor one’s own decision. It takes strength of the ego and the heart; faith that they will be just fine when this end begins. I feel like I want nothing more than to play hooky and not go to school; simultaneously, I want nothing more than to stop time and stay at school forever. I know I need to leave, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to because I don’t want to say goodbye to these people in my life.

But I know I have to be true to myself. And my true self knows that staying here is not right for me right now, no matter how dearly these people mean to me. Because at the end of the day, it is me. I have my friends. I have my students. I have my boyfriend. But my job is not what I want to do. Not right now. And if I am not happy, how can I stay for the people around me? What if things change? What if they leave? What if things end? Then what am I left with? I have to remind myself that in September of last year, I knew that I didn’t want to be teaching anymore. It doesn’t light my fire, not teaching English. And while I can really see a life for myself here in Mexico someday, I’m not ready to settle down just yet, no matter how much my heart strings pull me to stay. I have to let myself go, I know I do. I have to let myself leave knowing that I will come back; I have to let myself leave doing my best to have faith that everything will be okay on the other side until I do return.

*

“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.” Kahlil Gibran

YOLO: A Recipe for Disaster

Hit the bottle hard.

I have this 14 year old 8th grade student who has a chronic issue of being late to my class. In the past month, he has been late over nine times and today he got his third demerit from me for being late. When I told him that he had an amonestación (demerit), he said, “bueno, YOLO” with five layers of “whatever” and ten layers of “I couldn’t give a rat’s ass.”

I don’t know how it is with youth in the U.S., but here in Mexico, some of my 8th graders have adopted YOLO like it was their own child to the point where now it’s almost like a birthmark, or a birthright, or better yet, the slogan that defines their very existence. And instead of taking YOLO for its deepest meaning that, yes, we really only do once so we might as well live to the fullest and appreciate life and jump at every opportunity it has to offer us, many of them take it to be an excuse to be apathetic about anything other than going out and getting wasted. Or to actually not give a damn about anything but spending time with their friends. The students I see using YOLO as an apathy motto transform it into an excuse to physically trash their still-developing livers and do whatever the hell they want to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about going out and having a good time. And I am sure I made my liver cry and shrivel in college when I hit the bottle a little too hard. But these kids, they are 14, 15 years old and they are drinking their weekends away like that was the school that they go to: YOLO – the school of hard alcohol, no limits, and poor decision-making. Someday, if they ever actually start living their lives as adults and their livers start to give out on them, they’re going to wish they hadn’t gone at the bottle so hard before their bodies could handle it.

I really do wish my students the absolute best in life and that they truly live by the phrase YOLO. We only live once and this one wild, precious life we have been given is to be seen and cherished as a gift. It is to be valued and appreciated, which is a perspective that I still strive for yet often struggle with. But I didn’t start off on this beautiful journey at a young age with a hefty dousing of apathy accompanied by a bottle of tequila mixed with lack of responsibility and topped off with a big ole dose of laziness. Yikes… that recipe is no good.

In middle school, your world is your friends. I get that, and as a middle school teacher, I am reminded of that everyday. And in middle school friends translates to  the community of people at school around you. For most kids, there isn’t much outside of that. But I hope that as they turn 16, 17, 18 years old, they grow out of it, at least out of the heavily apathetic part of it. The drinking? Well, I don’t approve because I know from first hand & personal experience that drinking too much can be a cause of emotional shame as well as irreversible physical damages. And I want my students to be healthy and thriving both emotionally and physically. But if they are to keep one piece of this disastrous YOLO puzzle, which I believe they will, let it be the drinking by all means. But the apathy? That has got to go. Apathy equates to a lack of passion, a void where purpose is absent. It seems like it may be easier to be apathetic than to care about anything and fail at it or have our feelings hurt by it, but apathy is one of the worst defense mechanisms that exists and it is, in and of itself, a recipe for disaster.