17 Things These Extremely Successful People Were Doing When They Were 20-Something Failures


For anyone having a particularly hard time in their twenties right now, remember that success doesn’t come overnight. As these incredibly successful people show, ‘making it’ in this world is about dedication, patience, humility, and hard work. Here are 17 reminders that you are not alone if you are feeling lost or stuck in your twenties, and that it’s perfectly normal to feel like your dream is still very far away. 

1. Jon Hamm had just been dropped by his agency and was working as a waiter and doing other odd jobs (like set designing for porn films) to make ends meet.

2. Jennifer Aniston was working as a waitress, telemarketer, and bike messenger.

3. J. K. Rowling had been recently fired, was living as a single mother after going through a divorce, and was dealing with a diagnosis of clinical depression, all while barely living above the poverty line.

4. Amy Adams was working as a greeter at Gap and then a hostess at Hooters.

5. Tina Fey was broke and working as an administrator at the YMCA.

6. Oprah Winfrey had just been fired from her position as a news anchor at a Baltimore television station.

7. Matt LeBlanc had already been in three failed television series and was down to his last $11.

8. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, was working at McDonald’s, flipping burgers.

9. Lady Gaga was paying the bills by waitressing at a Greek restaurant.

10. Ralph Lauren was a college dropout working at Brooks Brothers.

11. Mark Cuban, a successful businessman and one of the investors on Shark Tank, was living in a three-bedroom apartment with five other guys and had just been fired from a sales job.

12. Kate Winslet was making sandwiches in a deli.

13. Lucy Liu was working seven days a week just to stay afloat – she worked as a secretary Monday through Friday, and then worked as an aerobics instructor during weekend days and a hostess at a restaurant during weekend nights.

14. Wendy Davis, a former Texas State Senator known for her famous 11-hour filibuster against a bill that attempted to restrict women’s abortion rights, was a single mother who had to drop out of college and work as a waitress to pay her bills.

15. Evangeline Lilly was working as a flight attendant to get through college.

16. Walt Disney had just filed for bankruptcy.

17. George Clooney was a college dropout working odd jobs including selling insurance door-to-door, working in a women’s shoe store, stocking shelves, and cutting tobacco. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I’m a staff writer for Thought Catalog. I like comedy and improv. I live in Chicago. My Uber rating is just okay.

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