Late Bloomers…and I Don’t Mean Flowers!

A late bloomer is a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual. Wikipedia

Funny…this definition of “late bloomer” from Wikipedia. I always thought it meant that the person doesn’t recognize his/her own talents until later in life, or that the talents don’t actually blossom until later.

Just recently my 32-year-old daughter was complaining that she hadn’t yet found her niche in life…as in career or partner. Sure, there are lots of jobs she’d love to have, but this is a brutal time in our nation’s history, even for college graduates, to find meaningful work that is compensated fairly. Like many others her age, she is underpaid, overworked and has few prospects.

While digging deep to respond to her in a useful yet sympathetic way I told her that she is a “late bloomer,” and that being a late bloomer is actually a family trait. I didn’t start on my path to becoming an ESL teacher until my early 40’s; my husband made a big career move just 15 years ago in his late 40’s; my 34-year-old son is still forging his path in the film industry and it will probably be several more years until he is more secure in his career.

I explained to my daughter that she is trying to live a “creative life,” and that is much more difficult than just getting a job or stepping into a career immediately after college graduation. In my family our problem is that we are each so interested in so many things that we find it difficult to focus on any one thing in particular. My son, daughter and myself are great travelers and have been fortunate enough to go to many interesting places. My son traveled in the Middle East, alone, just before the Arab Spring exploded. My daughter has been on an archaeological dig in Menorca, Spain, helping to unearth the graves of Roman soldiers and spent a semester in Australia learning about sustainable agriculture. My travels were less exotic but no less adventurous: I spent a year in Europe on my own visiting many countries and working parttime in Paris in the early ’70s. I made two trips to the Southwest in my 50’s to learn more about Native American culture, one of my many obsessions.

We all share a love of reading, writing, traveling, music, and now gardening. My home is perpetually inundated with books and artifacts of all the trips we’ve taken. My daughter has taken to calling our home The Suter Cultural Center. We may not be rich, but we collectively, and individually, lead a rich life.

So, while my daughter waits for her star to rise she occupies herself with playing the musical saw (she is a very competent violinist); crafting greeting cards and book sculptures; volunteering at the local Audubon center where she is curating a collection of bones and skulls donated to the center; tending her magnificent garden, and working parttime in a bookstore. In addition, she has boundless knowledge about many exotic creatures that include orangutans, whales, jellyfish, sloths, and tardigrades…you get the idea.

So teachers, keep this in mind as you get to know your students…some of us have boundless curiosity which is to be encouraged…but it is premature to label us too soon, for we often have no idea ourselves where we will end up. But one thing is for sure, the journey there will surely be fascinating.

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13 thoughts on “Late Bloomers…and I Don’t Mean Flowers!”

  1. I just love this! I love the line: “We may not be rich, but we collectively, and individually, lead a rich life.” How true. Your family’s travels and interests are so impressive! I am a total homebody and do not have the travel bug, but I am envious of people who do and add so much to their life’s knowledge from that exploration. Was your daughter satisfied with your late bloomer response? How is the book writing going?

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    1. So nice to hear from you as busy as you must be with the start of the new school year. Well, that’s what makes the world go ’round…some of us are self-described homebodies (my husband and you), and some of us are wanderers. I appreciated your centeredness as you appreciate my farflung adventures! Yes, my daughter seemed to be momentarily satisfied since she referred to my explanation recently in a positive way. I think she “got it” that I was trying to give her a new frame within which to see herself…as a creative being, instead of someone who’s missed the boat! I am still working on the book, slowly, but she hasn’t contributed yet. She says she has written lots of things in the past that she would like to contribute, but it hasn’t happened yet. I am used to being patient, but I am also eager to bounce off her “voice” as I write. It will happen….

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    2. I keep trying and failing to comment on your blog. I think it’s because I am not yet using a google account (?) In any case I loved seeing the summer days slideshow. In fact, I think I have most of the pix…just with different kids in them! Looks like you somehow managed to squeeze in some fun family time after all! Your blogs are always written thoughtfully and are always inspiring. I’ll be calling you in a week or two to chat about a project I may soon be undertaking. Enjoy these lingering Indian Summer days!

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    1. If you’ve been following my blog since March, you know that I, too, found my voice late in life right here on this blog. I was recovering from cancer and feeling depressed when Kathleen Sokolowski suggested I join the Slice of Life challenge. It worked! I looked forward to getting up every day and writing and responding to other writers. I haven’t looked back! And we share something else in common: I, too, consider myself a lifelong learner. I look forward to your comments.

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  2. This is a perfect reminder. My husband still has not found his life’s calling. Just this year, my son (7th grade) is starting to work independently and have personal interests. I’m so glad to read about others who are experiencing the same thing, but not letting it get in their way of living life.

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    1. There have been periods of self-doubt, especially when comparing myself to others, but in the end I am who I am and I wouldn’t change that for anything at this point in my life. Maybe your husband has found his life’s calling and the world (or he) just doesn’t see it yet! Please tell him to hang in there and dabble a bit. I was a teacher for over 22 years, but now I’ve retired and I’m enjoying trying out new things and new identities…including writing this weekly blog!

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  3. We are also unique in that our late blooms may not match our early ones. What we are at one stage in our lives, whether “successful” or not, need not have anything to do with what comes later. I think teachers should also keep in mind that “star” students (like other young athletes or movie stars) perhaps should be encouraged along broader lines, and not encouraged to narrowly concentrate too soon on what seems to be their strongest points.

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    1. And this is another reason why we need teachers who are generalists; life is a long journey and we need that broad background to sustain us through our many phases. Especially so when one stage ends (loss of a job; a death or illness; a geographical move, etc.) and we are suddenly faced with the blank slate in front of us.

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  4. I love the message and the perspective you encourage. So often, we teachers fail to recognize those out of the box thinkers, and school can become such a pointless and lonely place for them. Thank you.

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