The Late Bloomer

Kids want to grow up fast. Do what adults do. Feel powerful. Unfortunately, most adults don’t feel so powerful. They feel helpless, burdened with responsibility but not so much authority.

I skipped grades when I was younger, got out of high school and college really early. It didn’t make any difference, of course. Every job made me “start over” and “prove myself.” For years, I thought this was a lack of ability on my part to show I was smart and capable. It took years to figure out that all the proof rested on thorny cultural facets–that women deserve less pay, that women need to prove themselves more than men, that women as seen as weak and hysterical.

Dillweed from Glen Moore's

Worse, I was a late bloomer. The youngest in my class, and slow to develop curves, I had to use wit, humor and smarts to negotiate my life. Unfortunately, I was also impatient, perfectionistic and, well, angry at all this nonsense.  Why couldn’t employers just use my skills? That attitude didn’t help.

As I got older, I began to see the advantage of being a late bloomer. You draw different battle lines in different places. You waste less energy. You spend more time solving the real problem–the underlying problem, rather than the superficial drama. In fact, you don’t care about the drama so much any more. You’ve seen so much drama, little of it fresh, and most of it is not about you.

As a late bloomer, you give up the need to prove who you are by words, and focus on doing. What you do becomes your proof statement, and people interested in results begin to pay attention. People interested in externals still shrill loudly, but it matters less, because there are those results. (My favorite was the woman who looked at my generous hips and hissed, “If you can’t control what you put in your mouth, how can you control the people who work for you?” to which I replied, ” Not a problem, as I wasn’t planning on eating them.”)

Now that I own my business, I am grateful to have been a late bloomer. I know how to pace a project, I know how to separate “urgent” from “important.” I stay calm when others amp the histrionics, as I’m not interested in the attention. I get work done. I work with a better quality of people. Yes, many years were spent fraught and living in disappointment. But I’m a late bloomer and life is good.

–Quinn McDonald’s book, Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art was possible only because she is a late bloomer. The book takes the long view of art and meaning-making. Quinn’s glad she waited. Oh, and if you use the link above to order it, you’ll get free shipping. Use the code at the bottom of the page.

14 thoughts on “The Late Bloomer

  1. I LOVE that comeback – “I wasn’t planning on eating them!” Reminded me of the Lady Astor/Winston Churchill scenario… You write beautifully Quinn, with lots of anecdotes and practical advice. I was thinking about ‘confidence’ in the workplace toward the end of this post. At 53, I have just regained mine and proven to myself that I can be a valued and valuable member of a team! I think… a lot more lately, because your posts are thought-provoking! Happy that our paths crossed! =)

    • Lady Astor was born in Virginia–I don’t remember when I learned that, but it was a surprise. One of my favorite attributed quotes of her is: “The penalty for success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you.” I”m glad you’ve regained and found confidence again. It’s a constant search, but you seem to have focused on what you need. Good for you!

  2. Everything you said applies to me. I graduated high school at 16, was FORCED to learn shorthand and typing by my Mom, God bless her.. glad I was made to! could not go to college as my brother had to be educated, so I got married instead… and spent my career proving myself as an executive nanny. Captains of Industry, my foot. I wonder how they even got out of bed. Never mind. Churchill was a late bloomer, too!!!

  3. I can relate to this post on so many levels, but most to the line “In fact, you don’t care about the drama so much any more.”. I keep trying to explain this to my sister, who is 9 years my junior, but I recently realized this is something that you learn, it’s not taught. One day you wake up and realize the time and energy you put into “drama” is just not worth it. There are so many other areas of my life that I would like to exert that type of energy on, and drama is not one of them. Great post!

    • It’s a big lesson, Carren, about the drama. You are right, you can’t teach her what you have learned. Lacking a focus on our work, not knowing the difference between “urgent” and “important,” we have become adrenaline junkies. That’s what drama is, an addiction.

    • I’ve been working all of my adult life, in many different companies. It’s made for some stunningly sharp lessons about the baseness of people. Nevertheless, I believe in the goodness of people as well, as I have seen that, too. Luckily.

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.