By Carrie Classon
City & Shore Magazine
I realized that I might be a late bloomer — a little late, naturally.
I love hearing about prodigies: the five-year-old drummer or the 16-year-old activist. I love hearing the nine-year-old who sings like an old soul and reading about the 14-year-old who just completed a master’s degree. I marvel at all these amazing accomplishments. I am impressed with the laser-like focus of these children and teenagers that enables them to change the world in awe-inspiring ways.
I was never one of them.
I showed no promise on any musical instrument. I didn’t learn to read when I was especially young. I struggled with math, had no artistic talent to speak of, and played tennis so poorly the instructor sent me to the nurse to have my vision checked. (My vision was fine).
As I got older, I was not one of those young women with terrific style. I never knew what to do with my hair. I had no signature look. I had no original ideas.
Instead, the things I have been good at are rather dull. I am good at starting over. I am good at not getting discouraged. I am good at asking for advice. I am good at sticking to a plan even if it takes a lot longer than I thought it would. These are not glamorous skills.
But lately, in addition to all the stories of prodigies and wunderkinds, I’ve been hearing more stories about late bloomers: the woman who gets her first book published at 80, the fellow who goes back to college and graduates with his grandson, the singer who records her best album three decades after she was supposed to be “finished.” I love these stories as well and I think there is a place in this world for late-in-life achievements.
I’m hoping to be a late bloomer.
Late bloomers don’t need to worry about reaching 30 and thinking their best days are behind them. Late bloomers don’t have people comparing their new work with what they did in the past. Late bloomers might get told that they are too late — that it’s too late to start that new thing they want to do — but late bloomers are no longer young so they can ignore the doubters and go ahead, under the radar. Nobody’s paying attention to them anyway.
In just a little more than 100 years, human beings have doubled their lifespan. I think if there were some kind of plant that was suddenly living twice as long, scientists would be studying it. “What will it do with all this extra time?” “Will it grow some new fruit or become twice as large?” This is what I’ve been wondering about all the late bloomers out there.
Instead of getting one great talent, one terrific skill, late bloomers have had time to learn a lot of things and now — later in life — we can figure out how all the things we’ve learned can work together. We might be starting from scratch, but we’ve got a head start. We might be trying something new, but we get credit for time served.
I know the news will continue to be dominated by the young, and maybe that’s the way it should be. Neither youth nor fame lasts long. I’m just happy I get to try new things now, I’m delighted with any extra time I get to grow a little more, produce some sort of crazy new fruit. I’m just happy I get this chance to bloom in whatever way I can — even if my blooming comes a little late.
Carrie Classon’s memoir, Blue Yarn, was released earlier this year. Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.