Let me be honest. I wasn’t born with a lot of confidence, nor am I there yet. I am not your strong, confident, bold woman who says what she thinks all the time. I think a lot about being her, but I know it’s a long way till I get there.
No, I am not there yet. A year ago, if someone came to me and asked, “What would your best friend describe you as?”, I would probably say kind-hearted, sweet, sensitive, or some other words relatively nicer than “a pushover”.
26 years after being on this rock, and knowing that I am here for a purpose, even if I have no clue of what that purpose is, still makes me feel good.
Which brings me to the highlight of this article you’re about to read —I am a late bloomer.
And here’s why I am more than okay with it.
This generation’s obsession with achieving success as early as possible and portraying a certain image out to the world is one of the biggest drivers of escalating anxiety and depression among people around this age group.
If you’re 25 and still not famous, then what’s the point? If you don’t have at least a million followers on social media, then are you even living your good life? If you’re not rattling off early age startup ideas by the minute, how will you ever match up? You still don’t own a car? How are you surviving? Where’s your big yacht with a mini fridge full of expensive liquor?
Despite studies showing us how much negativity this kind of obsession with early achievement can have on our lives, we continue to believe in doing more, having more, buying more, and just more of everything. We convince ourselves that life is only better with alternative realities, greener grasses, and fuller glasses.
This shortchanges us into believing that there is a certain age limit, a certain academic degree, a certain kind of partner, a benchmark of beauty, a level of acceptable behaviour, a list of materials to own that defines our rate of success in life.
That somehow precocious achievement is the norm, and not an exception to the rule. Children, teens, even us in our twenties, have this longing to be wunderkinds living our biggest possible dreams, all within that age limit.
Somehow we convince ourselves that our level of intelligence, creativity, skills, and the ability to learn will start to diminish year after year as we age. That after a certain age we must choose to accept circumstances as they present themselves in our lives, blaming past choices and present tribulations. But perhaps the worst of it all, is the epic proportions of self doubt that is produced in each of us, owing to overarching expectations from our parents, families, and peers.
Contrary to this, however, research shows that our brains continue to develop well into our adulting years as do our capabilities. All of us perceive, advance, adapt, and mature at different rates.
Psychologists term this maturity and level of understanding as executive function. It’s not a measure of one’s IQ. It’s one ability to plan, focus, and handle multiple tasks at once. Something we learn to do as young toddlers and only stop when we’re about to breathe our last breath.
We come across stories of late bloomers from all walks of life.
Toni Morrison published her first book at the age of 39.
Abdul Kalam was elected the President of India at the age of 71.
Colonel Sanders discovered the famous fried chicken at the age of 65.
Susan Boyle rose to fame as a singer when she was 48.
Alan Rickman worked as a designer until the age of 42.
Julia Child joined culinary school at the age of 37 and went on to write a cookbook for French cuisine that inspires many to this day.
Rajnikanth worked as a coolie and a bus conductor before becoming a household name in South Indian cinema.
Walt Disney proved to us that no idea is too childish when he opened Disneyland at the age of 54.
The list is never ending. Here are some ordinary people who found themselves in situations that demanded extraordinary actions.
Most of them found themselves on a path they were never meant to walk on, yet they blazed through and discovered opportunities that they could have never dreamed of.
What’s important to realise is that our talents and passions may emerge as a result of our personal circumstances in life at any given age. What’s even more necessary is for each one of us to accept that our formal education system focuses on a rather narrow scale of achievements than we could possibly know growing up.
Our obsessive drive for early achievement and the shame that taints us by not achieving has only led to the squandering of real talent and stunted creativity.
All of us have been victims of this. All of us know, care, and love someone who feels this way. We need to remember not to give up on ourselves or those that surround us — our loved ones, our friends, family, peers, and anyone who we can help.
In a society that’s always telling you to catch up, be your own person and be good.
Believe in your journey. Believe in yourself.