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Why am I a late bloomer?
What is a late bloomer?
I have met people in their late twenties who consider themselves to be late bloomers because they know they are actively forging a path that is at odds with their inner callings, settling for a life that falls far short of their dreams. I have encountered people in their thirties, forties, and fifties who appear successful but suspect in their hearts that they are late bloomers because they want to achieve another, more personally meaningful form of success. I know people who have dedicated their adult lives to their most urgent callings, and yet are still late bloomers because they have not found ways to translate these callings into rewarding exchanges with the world. I have heard the stories of late bloomers who, having already bloomed once or even twice with great satisfaction, sense yet another flowering coming on in their sixties, seventies, and eighties.
If you are a late bloomer, you know it, even if others around you don't. Maybe you have the distinct conviction that there is another way of living, of working, or of expressing yourself that you have been putting off for a long time. Even though you may seem successful in the eyes of the world, you probably realize that you are no longer at peace with yourself or with your surroundings. Perhaps you feel that you aren't fulfilling the true potential of your unique gifts and talents, or that you are wasting time or throwing away opportunities. Maybe you suspect that there is a whole new life, and even a very different you, waiting just ahead, if only you could catch up and embrace it.And you probably find yourself wondering why you are standing still, instead of running ahead as fast as you can go.
If you have allowed yourself to glimpse the way you want to live in the future, yet still find yourself clinging to an entirely different present, you are probably asking yourself, �What's holding me back?� A whole lot, is my answer. Clearly, many powerful factors can cause late bloomers to postpone the pursuit of happiness. Some of these have to do with popular misconceptions about work, life, and money. These misconceptions lure people into unsatisfying, unfulfilling situations early on in their lives and keep them there.When people talk about making a living, they usually mean earning money. But a living is so much more than the balance of a bank account. Making a living is creating a life! When people talk about supporting themselves, they usually mean earning enough money to pay the bills. But how often do you think of supporting yourself emotionally, of nurturing your mind, body, and spirit with the activities that fill your waking hours?
In order to bloom fully and beautifully, it is important to put aside some of the common wisdom that we are taught by the conventional, materially obsessed world, and think unconventionally. Don't just make a living'create a life! Don't just support yourself'nurture your body and soul! Thomas Jefferson declared that the pursuit of happiness is one of our fundamental rights. Why should any of us settle for less? Unfortunately, the pressure to settle is strong. Why else would so many of us choose to follow unfruitful, unsatisfying pursuits?
In a way, the game is rigged against us from the start. In our late teens or early twenties, without much benefit of experience, we scramble for position in what feels like a life-or-death game of musical chairs. The music suddenly stops and we run for the nearest chair, which we then hold on to for dear life. Our parents and friends may urge us to finish school, get married, and start making a living. Fear of the unknown and a lack of faith in the abundance of the world send us lunging for the nearest college, job, or relationship. That same combination of fear and insufficient faith then works hard to keep us where we wound up, whether we like it there or not. We start to get rewards: perhaps financial success, social prominence, praise from employers, respect of co-workers and friends, a sense of security. Yet some of us find ourselves dying a little more each day as we betray our innermost dreams and desires.There are, of course, late bloomers who suspect from the start that the game is rigged. They may simply decline to play at all, choosing instead to hover around the margins of life, working at odd jobs, toiling in obscurity, doing anything they can to avoid joining the throng of players who compete for dubious prizes. Unfortunately, refusal to play at all can be just as unsatisfying and unfruitful as playing by the rules.
Many of the forces that late bloomers contend with are irrational. They spring from deep-seated fears, beliefs, and programmed responses that limit your ability to perceive the full range of possibilities the world holds out to you. They are heard in the voices that tell you it is too late to start a new career, go back to school, or follow a calling that has been whispering to you for years. These are the fears that warn you that no one will like you if you do what you really want to do, say what you really think, and live life on your own terms, not anybody else's. These are the beliefs that insist you will fail even where others have succeeded, that you aren't as talented as you think, and that there is no room in the world for you to be who you really are.
Unfortunately, the world is full of naysayers, pessimists, and worrywarts who can be counted on to echo your fears and negative assumptions about yourself or about your life in general. I call these negative voices, both internal and external, the �Chorus of No.� Like the toga-clad choruses in Greek tragedies, this group of pessimists warns the hero at every turn that he or she is about to make A Big Mistake. In order to bring about life change, we have to stop living our lives as if they are tragedies, fraught with irreversible errors that can only lead to misery and untimely, ignominious death. Why not see life as a comedy instead, full of laughter and surprise and the promise of a happy ending?