The Quarter Century Birthday

When you turn 21 it’s a big deal – you’re finally legal to drink alcohol, and everyone’s heard of the “Jordan year” when you turn 23. But the conversation turns more surreal when you reach the age 25 because people begin expecting real answers to the question of ‘what are you doing with your life?’.

My sister recently turned 25, and I had every intention of writing a post all about her. She and our parents came to visit me for her birthday weekend. This was an especially exciting visit because it was the first time dad had stepped on UNC’s campus since they moved me in Freshman year. I took advantage of the situation and showed them all around campus in 30 degree windy weather. The skies were Carolina blue though, so we couldn’t have asked for a better day. Mom even got to sneak in a few beautiful shots of Chapel Hill.

Our slightly failed Old Well pic. We used a self-timer.

I was going to get little bits of information from our parents about their lives at age 25 for this post. I thought looking at the difference in times between them and my sister might be a cool way to bridge the gap while celebrating her day. However, when my dad was 25 he had already embarked on the career path he’s still on today and had married my mom who was about to have my sister. I quickly realized that comparing my sister to our parents would produce unnecessary feelings of inadequacy in her. She’s privately confessed her worries about where she stands in society’s eye in terms of success.


So I came to the conclusion that rather than bridging this gap, I would instead highlight the differences. The people listed below are hugely successful in their respective fields, but at 25 they had not yet discovered the talents that would later make them famous.


Here are ten people that are widely known today for their successes, but – while already impressive in their own ways – they didn’t quite have it all together at 25 as they do now:

1. Mark Cuban: first a bartender and then a PC software retailer

2. Warren Buffett: investment salesman in Omaha

3. Ralph Lauren: sales assistant at Brooks Brothers

4. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: Xerox salesman

5. Tina Fey: taking acting workshops and working as childcare registrar at the YMCA

6. Melissa McCarthy: living in New York City and, in her own words, appearing in “very dramatic plays, very far off Broadway.”

7. Whoopi Goldberg: working in theater productions and training in acting

8. Joan Rivers: working in an office by day and trying out acting at night

9. Martha Stewart: stockbroker

10. Arianna Huffington (CEO of Huffington Post): traveling to music festivals around the world – she was already a published author at this time, but we’ll let that slide

I found all of these people easily by Googling “where were famous people at 25.” It becomes clear then that this is an age-old argument of when to truly come of age. Society still holds this irrational notion that at 25 you’re supposed to have everything figured out, while clearly so many people have no idea what they want to do with their lives. And if they do, they’re still climbing that ladder to reach their goals.

I stumbled across a quite fitting blog posted on HuffPost Women that explains this dynamic perfectly:

Turning 25 isn’t the cut-off to have the rest of your life figured out, or to be at your dream job or in your dream relationship. It’s not even the cutoff for figuring out what your dream job or dream relationship are. Where you are at 25 isn’t a referendum on where you’ll be or what you’ll accomplish over the rest of your life.

The point I’m trying to make in this is to stop comparing yourself to others’ imposed timeline of when to know and embody what it means to be successful. Everyone’s path is different. Stay mindful of where you are and where you’re going. Be proud of all that you’ve accomplished, my sister, and know that I am always cheering beside you every step of the way. I will always admire and look up to you.

As Carrie Bradshaw said…

Enjoy YOURSELF! That’s what your twenties are for!

Your thirties are to learn the lessons & your forties are to pay for the drinks!

Remember that when I’m 37 and you’re…

P.S. Happy late birthday!




4 thoughts on “The Quarter Century Birthday

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