We all know those people. Those people who have the rest of us convinced the world was tailor-made to help them succeed. Who seem to flow from life phase to life phase with little difficulty. And who always seem to be moving up. Those folks who seem to have figured it all out by the time they were, like, 10 years old. Who knew what they wanted to do with their lives, developed a plan, and stuck to it. And continue to stick to it 20, 30, 40, even 50 years later. Those same people who, by all appearances, were born to fall asleep at 9:00 every night, rise at 5:00 on the dot, shower, shave, exercise, read the news, meditate, and be out the door at 7:05 every morning looking as crisp as their dry-cleaned suits, with a shot of wheat grass in one hand, and a spring in every freshly-polished step. We all know those people. My God, where do they come from?
Meanwhile, the rest of us are asking ourselves the heavy questions: What am I doing with my life? What should I be doing? How can I make time to develop my other talents? How can I create the personal and professional changes I know I desperately need at this stage of my life? And don’t I owe it to myself to effect those changes? Because there’s more to me now. A lot more to me than there was when I was 20 or 25 years old, when I was forced to make major life decisions with long-ranging consequences. And I didn’t know what a long way I had yet to go.
Indeed, at 37, I’m asking the heavy questions. And for all intents and purposes, I suppose I am a late bloomer. Although I don’t like the phrase. Because I think it assumes we all should be on a linear life trajectory. And that my life, then, has been on hold for the past 37 years. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve been doing plenty. And a lot of it’s been fantastic, adventurous, educational, and exciting. (Did you know I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in February 2018? Now that was an experience.) But most of it’s not been in line with who I am. With my core talents. With a true sense of purpose. With my deepest, most intimate, most honest sense of self. Which I didn’t even really discover until I hit 30. So, late bloomer it is then. Here are some thoughts on what that means…and why it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Accept where you are. Now.
If I’m going to be honest, there was a time (in my mid-twenties, for sure) when I resented those people. When I would have given anything to be that linear, that focused in my decision-making, that confident in the direction of my passions. Because not being able to figure out exactly what I should do has always been one of my greatest internal struggles. As I imagine it is for many creative folks, divergent thinkers, and those with multiple talents and a fluid set of interests that aren’t easily transformed into niches or specialties. And I imagine there are more of us disguised as those people than we realize. But, even they have their problems. (And now I also exercise and drink wheat grass in the mornings, meditate, and have a side hustle, so who am I to judge?)
It wasn’t until I tried envisioning myself in that kind of structured existence that I realized just how much it doesn’t suit me. And it’s not something I should covet. What may come naturally to some people doesn’t come naturally to me. And that’s okay. That lesson, I think, marked a turning point in my life. The seed of an ever-expanding awareness of what it means to develop a gentler, more accepting attitude toward myself. And to work in harmony with my nature—to see where that takes me—rather than forcing myself into a paradigm that will never be welcoming. And thank God for that. I’ve never liked myself in suits.
You’re motivated differently.
If you’re anything like me, it’s not the lure of money, status or any other external reward that gets you moving. In fact, it’s not even the idea of pursuing a singular goal or passion that sets your heart on fire. But the idea of exploring. Experimenting. Becoming. Your view of the world is probably creative. That is, you see yourself and others through a sense of potential. It’s a kind of holism that you strive for—a deeper, more harmonious kind of living—not the promise of a corner office.
And accordingly, I think, if you’re like me, you find it difficult to make concessions. To negotiate between increasingly disagreeable alternatives: what I need to do, what I want to do, what I believe (or am told) I should do when all of these things can’t fall in line. The idea of having a job that you’re so-so with while you pursue more creative and outside-the-box alternatives may sound like a good idea, but in practice, you find it unsustainable. Because you’ve chosen a path that places your vision, your sense of your own potential, and the duty you have to yourself to develop all of yourself first. And any pursuit that falls short makes you feel small. Which leads me to my final point…
Your journey is a spiritual one.
Once we decide it’s more important to become who we are, who we sense we were meant to be, to rescue ourselves from lifestyles, careers, and value systems that leave us feeling as if we’re rotting inside, our journeys necessarily take on a spiritual significance. And often, stepping out of those paradigms that once limited our conceptions of self is enough to open our eyes to an exciting new inner world that is full of both wonder and possibility.
to everyone who has purchased a copy of my chapbook, Seven Road & Other Poems. If you haven’t purchased a copy yet, you may do so here. Thank you, as always, for reading!