On youth and success

I woke up on Tuesday morning to this year’s Forbes 30 under 30 being announced. Some of my exceptional friends were on it and I celebrated them on Twitter and IG — but I have a problem with youth being a marker of success.

Often, success comes at a young age because you don’t have responsibilities or dependents, you’re naive enough to not know what failure can look like or can mean and you haven’t got a reputation to protect or a lifestyle to maintain. I’m not saying you don’t work hard (you do!) but you’re also happy living on bare minimum, your body can take a lot — shit food, late nights, endless screen time and social overload with countless meetings and events. Your mind can also take on so much more — learnings, risks, new people... Youth feels like a superpower. But in lots of ways, it’s a detriment — habits we create and the style of work we’ve been practising are neither sustainable or practical in the long run. It’s a hard one to understand in the moment because our youth is invincible. And maturity? Well, that’s just hindsight. Here’s what I’m currently seeing:

My peer group started being successful in our early twenties (however you define that is up to you — many of us are founders and creators) and burnt out by our late twenties/early thirties.

We feel tired, angry, and resentful towards our bodies.
We may have had health scares because of the stress we have put ourselves under.
We may now have dependents, whether that be children, a partner, or elders.
We may have realised that what we fundamentally want in life has changed. For example, we may not have been motivated by money in the early days of our careers. Now, we maybe are because of what it has enabled us to have and to do for ourselves and our loved ones.
We may want a change of pace. A breakfast event, a whole day of work, gym, three evening events and somehow finding food to shovel in along the way may not cut it anymore.
We may be done with the city — the places that started our careers, opened doors, put us in close proximity of our mentors, sponsors, investors and the amazing people we worked alongside.
We may have realised we need a bigger support system — a cleaner, a food delivery service, PAs and VAs, childminders, dog walkers — if we want to keep on.
We may be done with doing it all and “hustle culture”.
We may want some luxury, a bit of a soft life.

Anisah Osman Britton MBE

Figuring out ✨ what's next ✨ after a decade of love and heartbreak in tech