As the end 2013 approaches, the world is listing everything. Lists dedicated to the greatest moments of 2013 are popping up everywhere detailing the accomplishments–both good and bad–of this year. The lists that make me feel particularly terrible about myself are the lists dedicated to the most influential people under age 30.
I read these lists and panic. I am almost 23 and have done nothing to improve the world through technology or medicine or literature or sport or entertainment or anything! If I do not figure out how to make a big impact very soon, I might as well give up and become a hermit because I will not be able to show my face it public–my useless, waited-too-long-to-do-anything-with-her-life, face.
So here is my list of five people under 30 who are making the rest of us look bad:
1. Ludwick Marishane: This year, he’s is only 23, and Marishane is already changing things in his native South Africa. The guy created a no-water cleansing gel that in antibacterial and biodegradable. (Because inventing a way for rural South Africans to stay clean wasn’t enough, he also had to care about the environment.) DryBath® is changing the world, and if that wasn’t enough, Marishane started Headboy Industries.
He will probably continue to make a difference while the rest of us do frivolous things like take selfies, go to parties, eat, sleep.
2. Leslie Dewan: Along with fellow MIT PhD candidate, Mark Massie (26), Leslie has invented a new nuclear reactor design. At. Age. 27. She created Transatomic Power which transforms nuclear waste into usable energy, enough energy, in fact, to power the United States for 70 years.
Personally, I blame my parents. They should have been reading me Nuclear Power Monthly while I feel asleep instead of Green Eggs and Ham. Or maybe I should blame Dr. Seuss.
3. Josh Sommer: When Sommer was a freshman at Duke University, he was diagnosed with chordoma, a rare bone disease with a 30% survival rate. Instead of simply waiting for a cure, he decided to make one himself. He dropped out and founded the Chordoma Foundation. He’s only 24. Let that sink in.
When I have a cold, I lay around watching Gilmore Girls and sleeping. Meanwhile, this guy has an actual, life-threatening illness. I have decided to stop watching TV, it is a distraction that I cannot afford if I aspire to be like Sommer.
4. Brandon Stanton: Better known as HONY, or Humans of New York, this 29-year-old photographer not only takes amazing photos but inspires everyone who sees his blog or book or Facebook page. He pretty much has the best job in the world. He wanders around New York City finding people to photograph. However, he manages to get them to share their personal words of wisdom along with the photo. Some stories are heartbreaking, and some are hilarious.
Excuse me while I quickly teach myself epic photography skilsl and go around photographing the people of Bismarck, ND. Oh wait, I am incredibly awkward and would just be bumbling around prying into people’s personal lives while they hide from my camera.
5. Shiza Shahid: At age 24, this women is the founder and CEO of the Malala Fund. After the Taliban tried to assassinate 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai for speaking out for girls’ rights to education, Shahid met with her, became her mentor, and founded an organization in her name. The two ladies are changing the world for women everywhere.
Judy Blume did not prepare me for this.