April 5, 2016

Are You a Late Bloomer?

I recently read an article about people who reached their career or personal goals much later in life than they originally planned. It was eye-opening, not to mention inspiring. Especially to a 40-something woman who is grappling with the what's next question of life (me). So if you're starting to feel a bit washed up after the age of 35(!), don't give it another thought.

First of all, 35the defined age of a late bloomeris not old, neither is 45 or 55, for that matter. But according to the powers that be, 35 is the age when we're supposed to get our sh*t together. The world is filled with twenty-somethings who seem to have conquered their to-do list in record time. Some of us take a little longer. And some of you may still be trying to figure out what you're going to do when you grow up. 

I don't know any 18-year-old who knows exactly what he or she is going to do with the rest of their lives. Hint: you're not supposed to. I tell my girls all the time it doesn't matter if you graduate from college and decide to take a different path. It doesn't matter if you go down one path and then choose another. And it certainly doesn't matter if you decide to do 2 or 3 things. In fact, I encourage it. But, if you're not 18 any more, the same rules apply.

I honestly feel like we shed our skins like a snake. Every 7 years or so, it's time to try something new. Our personal identities don't remain stagnate, why should our professional identity be any different? The problem is we feel we've failed if we haven't met certain goals by a certain age. We question whether we have enough education, experience, or just plain guts to see it through. We're afraid of failure. We're afraid of success.

Let's use me as an example. Because I chose one career (design) over another (writing), I was constantly telling myself it's okay, I'll get to it later. Until later became much later, and then I started to feel too old to try. One excuse after the other kept rolling off my tongue. But the truth is, it's never too late and you're never too old to begin anything.

David told me about an article he read in the newspaper about a 55 year-old woman who published her first novel. Cynthia's book has made my list of spring/summer reads and I just purchased it over the weekend. Many people begin the career or job they've longed to try well into their 40s, and this was just another example. 

I was inspired once again.

Did you know?

These authors did not graduate from college: William Faulkner (1949 Nobel prize for literature), Maya Angelou, Truman Capote, Ray Bradbury, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Nora Roberts...

John Grogan was 48 when he wrote Marley & Me. Sue Monk Kidd didn't start writing until she was 30. Danielle Steel has a degree in fashion design. J.K. Rowling studied French and became a teacher. John Grisham studied accounting, went on to become a lawyer, and wrote A Time to Kill after work. Robert Ludlum studied drama. Janet Evanovich didn't publish her first novel until she was 44.

And still, many tell you don't bother getting an MFA in writing. Just write! (And watch this interview as she has since edited her post. Also, please read her book, Big Magic.) 

So pick up that camera. Start baking. Learn a language. Pick up a brush. Find your voice. Stop making excuses. And never, ever let this three-letter word back into your vocabulary.

P.S. You may also like Mistaken IdentitySome Thoughts on Writing, Worshipping at the Alter of Elizabeth Gilbert, and My Take on Writing.

Photo: Moyan Brenn


Anonymous said...

Wow! This post comes on a day when I really needed it. I've been feeling like I missed the boat for a very long time now. Throw motherhood into the mix and I just about forgot who I was as a "me". I feel hopeful and a little giddy right now. Who knows what will happen in my 40s and beyond. I'm excited to find out.


Anonymous said...

An interesting post, Kimberly. I am now 70 & retired, which still surprises me somewhat. My husband of 48 yrs. passed away unexpectedly just as we began our retirement plans. I worked while he finished college, then chose to be a stay at home mom - which I loved most of the time. We got our boys through college & thought it was time for "us", but he lost his job with a big corporation...also unexpectedly. We bought a small retail business where we sold period furniture & accessories...though we had no retail experience. That was our job for 18 yrs., & that is what I am now retired from...

...but even though I love retirement, I still feel like there is something I want to do without knowing quite what. That being said, I am as busy as I was while working. Gardening is a true love of mine & that's where I am from 9:00 - 5:00 when weather permits. I guess this is just a bit of a different perspective given my age, & I wonder if I'm the only one who feels like this at this age.

Anita - the cabin on the creek

Debra Eve | Later Bloomer said...

Great sentiment and thanks for the shout-out! I just shared this on my Facebook page.

Anonymous said...

I've been through several metamorphosis in my life. I started school and studied law, quite law school and began to write, and all in between have held jobs delivering pizza, flowers, and driving an Uber. I don't feel as though I've wasted time because all of these experiences have taught me something I continue to use in my daily life. I like the variety. I like using my talents. And it keeps me happy.

Love the post (new reader).


Kimberly Merritt said...

Hello Mia. I can feel your excitement! Thank you for chiming in and good luck.

Anita, I don't think there is an age limit to this whole thing. I think it's wonderful that you've done so many things, continue to do so, and still look to the future with wonder. I've learned that what I plan to do and what I actually do changes from time to time. It's exciting and I wish you well.

Hello, Debra! Thank you for the repost and your wonderful blog. I hope you get some new visitors and I wish you continued success.

I like your attitude, Evelyn. And I couldn't agree more!

I'm updating the post to include one book (Elizabeth Gilbert's BIG MAGIC) that I think you all may enjoy.