After my article on senior entrepreneurship, I wanted to delve deeper into why some people just happen to “bloom” later in life”. This took me on a journey of seeking out people in their forties and beyond to understand why they did what they did and what makes them tick.
Good old Wikipedia defines Late Bloomers as such:
“A late bloomer is a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual. The term is used metaphorically to describe a child or adolescent who develops slower than others in their age group, but eventually catches up and in some cases overtakes their peers, or an adult whose talent or genius in a particular field only appears later in life than is normal – in some cases only in old age.”
Having early setback can affect late blooming in more ways than one. Today, thanks to the Internet, we can discover everything about anything. In the past, however, we depended on parents, teachers and libraries to guide us. The quality of that guidance varied from place to place, individual to individual. If you are fortunate to have the correct support to help then great. If not, then it might take a bit of time for you to find your feet in life before having the correct foundation to explore and blossom.
Poverty is one such as example. Albert Einstein had an IQ of 150. Chris Langan’s IQ is so high that it can’t be measured. But you’ve probably never heard of him unless you’ve read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Some would say bad luck dogged Langan.
His car broke down and he couldn’t afford to fix it. He could hitch into town for afternoon classes, but the admin office wouldn’t let him transfer to the later sessions. His mother forgot to sign his scholarship application, so they rejected it. His college took the hard-line. They kicked him out. Gladwell thinks that Langan could have turned things around if only he’d learned to negotiate with authority figures. But that, and his “bad luck,” are symptoms of deeper problem—extreme poverty. While growing up, food was a luxury. He owned only the clothes on his back. His stepfather beat him for eight years.
Savant Daniel Tammet speculates that an intersection between talent and delayed opportunity causes late-blooming:
If you’re born in a very poor environment, where you’re not given books and you’re not given good education and then subsequently doors are closed to you that are open to others who perhaps don’t have your talent…I could well imagine that throughout our history there are people who have come into their own relatively late in life.
But there are advantages with starting late.
1. You have a hidden talent for discovering fellow underdogs. You can sense when someone has great potential under all their awkwardness and you make it a point to connect with them and root them on. Everyone needs someone to support their dreams.
2. When you finally get on the same level as your peers you have more appreciation for reaching that milestone. Some things in life people just expect to get and experience because, for whatever reason, life has just been easier for them. But for you – you’ve been waiting your whole life to get the same thing someone else achieved years before. And when you finally get there, whether it’s buying a house, scoring your dream job, or just falling in love with someone who really gets you – you truly appreciate the moment.
3. You’re not caught up in reaching the same milestones in life everyone else you’re age seems to be obsessed with. Kids, a career, and married by 30? Who wants to live that boring life? It’s not that you don’t want those things, and hey, maybe you already have one or two of those things already. That’s cool! But because you’re reaching your goals and milestones a bit later in life you just don’t care that much about keeping up with your peers. You’ve accepted you’re at a different speed than they are and honestly, isn’t it kind of nice to have all that pressure off of you?
4. You’re better at sex and dating. People who hit their sexual stride later in life tend to be more self aware and better at relationships. After spending a lifetime of watching those around them date and experience failed relationships, late bloomers are able to learn from others mistakes and internalize them.
5. Some of the most iconic people in history have been late bloomers. Van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was in his late 20s, Julia Child didn’t begin cooking until her 30s, Peter Roget didn’t invent the thesaurus until he was 73 years old. There are tons of other similar cases, but what does this mean for you? You might not find your talent, your niche, or the break you’re looking for in life until you get older. And that’s totally okay. Great things are coming.
6. You don’t judge people based on their appearance. You know what it’s like to be the ugly duckling, the less attractive friend, the one no one really paid much attention to. Because of that you’re less likely to judge people on what they look like because you know too well the experience of having an outside appearance that doesn’t quite match how seriously awesome you are inside.
7. You’ve stayed down to earth and genuine. You’ve spent so much of your life trying to get where you want to be and now that you’re finally coming into your own you never forget how you started or where you came from.
8. You never stop working hard for what you want. I think late bloomers sometimes have the feeling that even after they’ve “made it” – whatever that means to them – that there’s the chance the rug could be pulled out from under them again. After they reach their goals they create new goals to focus on because they never want to stop actively working on their progress.
9. You know you’ll never take anything for granted. There’s always an element of gratitude late bloomers feel towards the life they’ve created for themselves. They know how much longer it took them to get where they are, either because of past choices or circumstance, and they refuse to ever forget their journey.
10. You understand great things take time and because of that you’ve developed a great amount of patience for dealing with the lows of life. If something doesn’t happen the way you thought it would or you don’t get the results you’re after, you don’t freak out right away.
11. You know your mistakes and how to rise past them. You’re all too well aware of the things you did in the past that stunted your growth to some degree. Maybe it was a bad drinking habit, maybe it was living too deep within negative emotions that disabled you from moving on. Whatever it is, you know your faults, and by now how to recognize them. It’s just a matter of overcoming those flaws and past mistakes to continue to get you where you want to be.
12. There’s an extra degree of kindness within you. You understand just how mean other people can be and you vow to never treat someone the way you’ve been treated in the past.
So leverage on what you have, the experience that made you who you are. The late bloomers remind us never to give up. Know your dream and chase it.
Check out more of my posts at www.abetterman.xyz
My related post on senior entrepreneurship can be viewed over here.