Previously, I discussed the vagaries of my age-rage. I started thinking about this topic as I was reflecting upon a cherished reunion I had last week. My friend Kate — a dear college friend whom I first met while I was acting as self-appointed coordinator of the heelers for the Yale Daily News — made an unexpected class trip to L.A. last week with her Harvard Business School program.
As we were sitting around in a huge group of tremendously and diversely accomplished people, discussing the usual subjects such as optimal age to go to grad school, which of our former classmates is the best connected now, etc., the issue of the Forbes “30 Under 30” list came up.
Granted, I take a pretty cynical view of such compilations, mostly because I’m never on them. In college, I was something of a campus journalism completist, keeping myself involved in as many types of student publications as reasonably possible. So I half-heartedly rationalize that I couldn’t be on the lists then because I was on too many editorial staffs. The truth is probably more that, at best, I’m terrible at the kind of networking that gets you considered for these; at worst, I actually have nothing to offer and the mere mention of my name in the proverbial smoke-filled back rooms in which such lists are compiled results in either explosive laughter or desolate silence.
But a lot of people don’t think like that. I’m still haunted by how absolutely invested people were in the annual publication of the Yale “50 Most Beautiful People” list. It doesn’t even seem worth it to dismantle the sheer wrong-headedness of publishing — let alone lionizing — such a ranking at Yale freaking University. I did, however, get a big kick out of truthfully telling people one year that “I’m in 50BP!” Technically, I was — in the back of that issue, in an utterly point-missing and hilariously hypocritical section that aimed to catalog any typos found in the Yale Daily News. (My thoughts: Wow, congrats! You found minor typos in a free, professional-grade newspaper compiled for your edification by an all-volunteer staff taking the same number of courses as you, all while they put out a purely original product 5 days a week. Is this what you obsessed over the SATs for?) There, I was name-checked for having both a front-page and back-page story in one issue, all in service of the disappointingly uninspired “zinger”: “This proves that the Yale Daily News is nothing but a Pu sandwich.” Hm, totally. Res ipsa loquitur.
To come back to the point: Competitive people care about things like “30 Under 30.” You might be freaked out (as I am) to see how people with incredible pedigrees OBSESS over the who, the why, the WHY NOT ME (this is probably the key) of these arbitrary rankings. That saddens me. I don’t want to sound reductive or condescending; there are plenty of silly things that I worry about that others probably find pointless or unimportant. We should all just sing an academia-ready version of One Direction’s “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” where we take a step back and remind each other: “Hey, you have a damn impressive job, and more importantly, you’re grounded, articulate and you have a plan for your future! ♬ Oh, oh oh! You don’t know you’re … luckier than 99.999% of the entire world. ♫”
Summary of the linked articles: Rebel Wilson is actually 34. Yet she’s on the Forbes “30 Under 30” at her “actress age” (©Jenna Maroney) of 27. That’s absolutely deplorable and embarrassing.
Girl, you need to pray to the Lorde for forgiveness.