I read your post and I had to respond because I have definitely experienced similar feelings on my journey.
I'm also 24. I graduated from high school in 2007 and had initially attended a 4 year college as an undecided major. I ended up with a semester of F's because I stopped going to class without withdrawing, I had no idea what I wanted, and I ended up attending a local community college to "figure things out". After taking an "Investigations in Health Careers" class and shadowing different medical professions, it was then I fell in love with emergency medicine and nursing three months before I turned 22. I live at home with my parents, cut my hours at work (and took a huge pay cut), and dedicated my life to my studies. I sacrificed my summer break, my winter break, and my social life too. Whenever I looked on the outside, those were the times I wanted to quit because it was NOT easy watching my friends graduate with their Bachelor's degrees, getting jobs, attending grad school, moving out and becoming independent. And here I was at age 22... then 23... having gone to school for 5 years with no degree... taking these nursing prerequisites for programs I wasn't even sure I could get into. But you know what, I didn't let it stop me from trying or applying.
Now at 24, I just finished my last nursing prerequisite and my last semester at the community college. I'm obtaining my Associate's Degree in a week with honors after 6 years.
It took 2.5 years of full-time course work, over 60 credits earned and 7 nursing school rejection letters to get ONE acceptance into a BSN nursing school as a transfer for the Fall 2013. I am telling you, it is 100% worth every sacrifice, every hour of studying, every missed phone call, and every missed night out, to hold that piece of paper in your hands.
My advice to you is to ask yourself this question: How bad do you want to be a nurse?
Looking to the outside and comparing yourself to others takes precious time and energy away from yourself and it takes your eyes off the path to your goals. I'd be lying if I said I've never done it, because I certainly have. You'd be surprised at how much better you start feeling when you learn to take pride in your own individual path and what you have accomplished, even the small achievements of the completion of each prerequisite.
Diplomas don't have start and end dates printed on them, so if it took you 6 years, or 8 years, or 10 years to get your BSN, you know what? That doesn't show up anywhere.
It won't be easy, but it's 100% possible. If you want it bad enough, go out there and get it because it will be worth it.
Best of luck,