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.
Have you been called a late bloomer? I have. It’s usually a euphemism for ‘she’s a bit slow, isn’t she?’ Late learners or bloomers are those who are not doing the expected things in life by the expected times. We have such expectations of ourselves and each other. Everything seems to have a time limit on it, including personal development. Children have their ‘developmental milestones’, leaving parents stressed and worried if the child takes a bit longer to do something. After puberty, adolescents are supposed to act in a certain way and want certain things (to conform, to want sex, to experiment), and those who don’t act in this way are mercilessly teased by their peers as being ‘weird’ or ‘losers’. Adults are supposed to follow certain rules and want certain things, marriage, children, careers, money and so on. If they don’t follow this process again they are seen as odd, and are told they need to ‘grow up’.
We are obsessed with time. We live our lives by the clock, calculating our expectations by the years we’ve lived. Why? Does it matter if we work at 20 and study at 60? Does it matter if we marry at 20 or 90? Does it matter if we have kids early or late? Travel when we’re young or when we’re old? Do we have to get told we’re having a ‘mid-life crisis’ if we decide to do something at 50 that you’re ‘supposed’ to do at 25?
Maybe what we need to do is redefine this a bit. Maybe a late bloomer should be defined as a person who is not in a hurry, who does not feel the need to experience everything too soon, who takes their time and savors every moment of his or her life. Living in the moment has become something of a cliché in recent times, but I believe that cliches often become so because they are true. We need to be in less of a hurry, and we need to understand that we can order our life in whatever way works for us. We need to remember that we are all individuals, each with our own values and goals, and we can do what we like when we’re ready, not when someone else says we’re supposed to be ready.
I am a late bloomer, and proud of it. (Maybe I should put this on a t-shirt?)