I've been told many times in my life that I’m a late bloomer. When I was in high school I didn’t mind being told that, I actually liked it; I thought it was one of my more defining characteristics. As a teen, my friends and I glorified the age of the Sixties – we simulated free spirited, wandering hippies who chased after having a good time. As one can tell of my pre-adulthood years, to be coined as a “late bloomer” was more of a compliment to me as I was trying to embody some past generation’s nature.
Today, the term doesn’t stick so well. Being twenty five and still not entirely sure what I want to do with my life, feeling late to the game, and last to start a career within my circle of friends is more of a stressor than anything else. As I see other people my age chasing after their dream jobs, the 9-5, or moving locations for new beginnings, I’m still trying to find out exactly what career would make me the happiest.
Despite the headache that comes from feeling like your life is somehow off-track because you don’t know where it’s going isn’t the worst thing in the world though. I’ve spoken to people of all ages, specifically many thirty to fifty year olds, who still believe they aren’t yet doing what they were meant to – that they still have yet to figure out what they want in life. And in all honesty, that’s completely, one hundred percent, fine.
Baz Luhrmann mentions something similar in his infamous song, "Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen." He says: “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at twenty-two what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting forty-year olds I know still don’t.”
So what is the rush we so heavily feel in getting to the end goal; of being in one set job; of meeting the person we’ll spend our lives with; of knowing the ending before the beginning has even begun? Every job, every experience, every person that we meet now is what makes up our lives; the moments we are currently living is the journey we decide to embark on before arriving at our final destination.
I forget sometimes how young twenty-five is. The belief that I should already know the layout of my life is highly irrational, and in some ways takes the fun out of figuring myself out. For example, from not knowing what I want to do I’ve been able to take many jobs that suit my different interests. From the restaurant industry to non-profit work, I’ve gained great experience and have met some really interesting people along the way. That’s not to say that my friends who have been in their careers for a few years already have not had the same opportunities, but sometimes it’s harder to experience other fields of interest when your time is consumed by one set job.
The truth is that it’s only up to you in how you are going to feel about where you’re at in life. People are always going to have something to say about your decisions, society is going to keep trying to enforce “rules” of the correct way to live, and your friends and siblings will have careers or get married before those things have even entered your mind. That’s all a part of life, of the things we have no control over.
The one thing we do have control over though is how we decide to feel about our lives and ourselves. There’s no real point in beating yourself up because you don’t know what you want or because you haven’t yet discovered your dreams; that all comes in time, in the moments that exist between the starting point and the finish line.
It takes courage to admit to yourself and others that you’re more complex than you thought and that you don’t yet know who you are. Life always has a way of bringing to us exactly what we need at just the perfect time. Start believing that where you’re at is the only place you are meant to be and be happy in the fact that you are who are; a late bloomer.
"For what it's worth...it's never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you're not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again." -F. Scott Fitzgerald