On Being a Late Bloomer

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.

colored abstract head of girl

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.

Thank you…

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!

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29 responses to “On Being a Late Bloomer”

  1. Wow, its as if I’m listening to myself put all my intuitive thoughts about this matter & post it on your blog….who are you & where do you come from?? Do we share the same solar system of birth and genetic composition??? 💋 I really enjoyed your thoughts on “late blooming”!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.”

    ― Franz Kafka, Diaries.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve already said this to you somewhere else in answer to a comment of yours, but I realise this is a better place for it to be: I deeply sympathize with your words in this post. I really enjoyed it! Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m only 23 but I feel this. The people I knew in college and high school are getting married, having kids, starting careers – being people. I live with my parents, and though I have a degree, my job isn’t in a field I want to work in, let alone that I want to do for the rest of my life. The world conditions us to pick a career when we’re in high school, especially in America, and we’re supposed to stick with it, make money, and contribute to the capitalist machine, be predictable and on a set path… but I guess not all of us are cut out for that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I agree. I felt similarly in my 20s. And you are right, when you’re conditioned to be part of the machine, there’s little, if any, room for individuality and growth. I suspect more of us feel this way than ever let on. And probably have for a long time. So it always strikes me as absurd that our systems and institutions continue on as they are. Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. There is so much here to think about. I relate to all of it. What comes to mind is that for me, when I was in my early thirties, and then again in my early and mid forties, I realized that having experiences in what I was passionate about (in my thirties, discovering my own inner life, and my favorite authors and subjects; and in my forties, discovering that for me writing was all about having an experience during the act of writing) was everything (bueno, not everything, but close to it). I look forward to receiving Seven Road & Other Poems!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the comment and for ordering a copy of my book! 🙂 I will have it out to you very soon. My experience in my thirties, I think, is similar to yours. A process of going back to what interested me previously, rediscovering it all in a different way, through more mature eyes. And the creative work related to it is everything. Like my soul speaking right to me. I am glad you can relate to this post. I always sense your experiences in these matters are close to mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. At any point in ouir lives we can start anew or begin a new path. If that means people will label us as late bloomers, so be it. Who cares about stupid labels anyway.

    Wish you all the best. I hope you bloom like you have never bloomed before. Wish you endless success and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So much I can identify with here! I used to feel so conflicted about, and to be honest somehow inferior, to those who sailed off to a career after university, got married, had kids, got good jobs – the sort of lifepath proud parents seem to brag about to anyone who will listen. It’s as if THEY had worked out what life should be about, while I was immature for thinking it could be anything else. So i’m one of those who didn’t figure out what ship I wanted to sail until my early to mid thirties – and those changes brought me back to the creative me that I’d suppressed in childhood because a creative life wasn’t considered sustainable. I knew I NEVER wanted to work in an office, but thought a science lab might do. I was wrong about that! I did an arts degree in later life and that was one of the best things I ever did, then on to a creative life, come what may. So I was a late bloomer. I like to think we late bloomers will never be disillusioned by life in the way THEY may become in retirement for example. There is no retirement for creative people and no end to being fascinated by this world, so that may be the pay off that balances the scales. A quality life that’s in line with one’s spirit. I could go on and on…but cheers for the post and very warm wishes! Bloom away!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep. everything you just said resonates with me. I used to feel inferior to them, too, until I realized that trying to emulate those folks who looked like they had it all figured out did nothing but torture me.

      And I think you’re right about late bloomers not having to face the same disillusionment/life crises as early bloomers. (I actually think we get ours out of the way first…including a lot of the powerful life lessons that come with.) I also think we learn to see life as a series of ebbs and flows, creative diversions, opportunities for growth and exploration, instead of being obsessed with material success and upward mobility.

      Thank you for the lovely feedback and for sharing your experiences. I also want to let you know that just today I received my copy of Lin Yutang’s The Importance of Living, and I cannot wait to start it. Take care! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I received your book and I was thrilled by the fact that it came from so long —long journey across the ocean— and how beautiful it looks. It looks like a unique sample of a work. Original edition outside and inside. I know I am going to enjoy it. Thank you and congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

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