Late bloomers

There’s this idea that coming to success later in life is a small failure in itself. After all, what have you been doing if not succeeding?

Society focuses a lot of attention on young people who have achieved staggering success.

In the past, this has made me feel slightly bad about myself. I wonder, ‘Have I missed the boat? Is it too late for me? What exactly have I been doing?’

The answer is I have been failing. Failing in spectacular ways, interesting ways, humiliating ways.

Working in jobs I loved and hated, spending years in wonderful and terrible doomed relationships, accruing debt travelling to try and find myself.

It is only now that I can confidently say I feel like I have reached a level of success. I have a job I mostly love, I am in a deeply loving relationship with a very good man, I have a happy home, an awareness of what I need to do to stay healthy and financially afloat, am part of a community of creative, intelligent, hilarious friends and have a beautifully nurturing, encouraging family.

It took me 36 years to get here – to a place of relative peace, happiness and stability – so it’s likely to take me a whole lot longer to achieve anything of actual substance.

The way I see it is this: in the natural world, there are annuals and perennials; deciduous plants and evergreens. Some bloom early in the season in a spectacular display and spread their seeds near and far, sharing that beauty and potential around (River Phoenix). Perennials bloom every year and share their beauty in an ongoing way (Meryl Streep). Evergreens live on, untroubled by snow or sun (Morgan Freeman). Deciduous plants obey the seasons and are beautiful whether cloaked in green or bare-limbed (Angelina Jolie).

It’s easy to get excited about the burst of life and colour that comes with early bloomers but late bloomers have the distinct advantage of having survived to bloom after adapting to their conditions.

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