Sometimes you think to yourself: I’m only 18/19/20/21, I can’t do that. And then other times you see some fantastic teen saving the world. And you end up feeling a tad bit inadequate. But instead of being jealous of these successful people, let’s applaud them and take a look at what the following celebrity women were doing when they were our age!
You Were: Applying to college, getting into college (woo hoo!), breaking up with your boyfriend, working at an ice cream shop, volunteering at a local animal shelter, fighting with your parents.
Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen
These twins that you may have heard of once or twice were just like you and me at 18 — applying to college (namely NYU’s Gallatin School) and preparing for a daunting move to NYC. However, I somehow suspect their digs were slightly different than your cramped dorm.
At 18 these amazing girls were not only juggling schoolwork but also working on their fashion line — and making a bold commitment to women’s rights in their offices. The famed twins offered their Bangladesh female workers full maternity leave — a move praised by the National Labor Committee who said, “The Olsen twins have done the right thing. Now it’s up to Wal-Mart to either support Mary-Kate and Ashley’s commitment to women’s rights, or tragically shut them down.”
So maybe you were arguing for Free Trade or something, but these two were making a big step for laborers. Oh yeah, and additionally they were already self-made billionaires, fashion designers, and actresses. NBD.
OMG were you president of the Student Council at 18? Congratulations, but Queen Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom at 18. After a string of male deaths in her family in the late 1800’s, Victoria ascended the throne and took on the iconic role of being a symbol of her nation. She did some minor things that went down in history — like being the Queen during the greatest expansion of the British Empire and having the longest running reign of any female monarch (63 years, 7 months!). All of this started when Victoria was just 18. Pretty amazing.
You were: choosing your major, learning about yourself as you lived with a roommate, learning how to make Ramen on your hot plate, taking care of yourself when you got sick at school, pulling all-nighters in the library, visiting professors in office hours.
Excuse me…Professor Sabur. Alia Sabur — 3 days shy of her 19th birthday — became a full-time faculty Professor at Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea in the Department of Advanced Technology Fusion. She was also a research liaison with Stony Brook University in New York. And while she may have received this title at 18, she did the job at 19 — teaching students older than she was! The child prodigy entered college at 10, explaining, “there were always some who were randomly offended by the fact there was a kid in their school.”
She made headlines this year — at the age of 21 — for proposing an idea to BP to stop the oil leak. Unfortunately, they didn’t take her plan, but they did use some ideas from this undisputable genius.
You were: dancing at parties, applying for an internship, acting in your school play, fighting with your parents when you were home for the summer, moving into your first apartment.
Sometimes women we look at now who are spectacular — Drew has a production company, has directed a movie, and starred in many — had rough pasts. Thrust into the spotlight at a young age, the daughter of an acting legend grew up a little faster than the rest of us. Sure we all go through a rebellious stage, but Drew’s was slightly more severe. The Never Been Kissed star’s well-documented drug abuse started at 12 with marijuana and catapulted at 13 with cocaine. And you thought Lindsay Lohan was bad. At 14, she tried to kill herself but then became determined to get sober and emancipate herself from her parents. But at 20 she got her wild-child ways back. In 1995, she posed nude on the cover of Playboy and flashed David Letterman during an appearance on his talk show.
So yeah, the flower girl has cleaned up her image now…but she went through a rebellious stage. Know how to clean up your own youthful mistakes like Drew did (or avoid them altogether!) and you might be so fabulous in your thirties that people forget what a mess you were.
Of course not everyone is a 20-year-old train wreck.
At the age of 20, Nastia has already accomplished things that two types of girls (athletes and fashionistas) aspire to — winning five medals including the gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing for gymnastics and launching her own line, Supergirl by Nastia at JCPenny.
Nastia’s line appeals to young girls everywhere — not just gymnasts!
"I wanted to make something mom-friendly and mom-approved," she said. "You don't want these girls flaunting around at recess looking like they don't have pants on."
Very mature of you, Nastia!
You were: having your first drink…legally, freaking out about passing the halfway mark on college, stressing about getting a “real job,” applying to grad school, hearing people seriously discuss marriage.
Rihanna is the ultimate cool girl. She rocks the hottest fashions and yet is relatable. Too many girls deal with awful boyfriends and then write it off until a major altercation happens. Fortunately for her, she got out before it was too late, like it was for another college-aged woman, Yeardley Love.
By the age of 21, Rihanna had already managed to be a voice and a role model to girls dealing with abusive girlfriends everywhere as she broke up with Chris Brown after he beat her. But she was still easy to identify with because many girls who have been abused unfortunately end up taking the guy back (bad!), and Rihanna had a brief dalliance with the R&B singer before she realized the error in her ways.
No big deal or anything, but she was also on her fourth studio album — Rated R.
Basically, you can be absolutely amazing at any age. No one expects you to have a billion dollar empire and fight for laborers’ rights — but at least you know that someone your age can and has! The women above are smart, strong, beautiful, and empowering. And even though we might be jealous of their unbelievable accomplishments in athletics, fashion, music, acting, politics, and education — we’re also just really proud of them!