What makes someone a “late bloomer?”
Did they just magically appear on the planet’s surface at an advanced age, hatched from a magic pod?
And just what is an advanced age?
Alan Rickman gave up his graphic arts career in his twenties to pursue acting. Twenties is not old, or “late.” He found enough work to keep from starving or living on the streets. He enjoyed success at some level on the stage before being launched into movie stardom at 42 with the first “Die Hard.”
Jane Austen was 36 when Sense and Sensibility was first published. Granted, in her day, 36 might be considered one foot in the grave, considering life spans of the era. But still, she lived comfortably till fame found her, supported by a close-knit family of landed gentry.
The painter Edward Hopper did not gain wide renown for his work until he was 40 years old. Until that time he found gainful employment with graphic art in advertising, doing his painting as a hobby.
I would argue, hons, that most late bloomers tend to fall in the arts categories. I’ve known people who are accountants, attorneys, chefs, shopkeepers and the like, who all love their work. Wouldn’t do anything else. Fortunately for us they find gainful and spiritual fulfillment in their careers. When I googled “late bloomers” for this series, I found mostly actors and painters and musicians who found their success later in life. Though I will not at all discount those who enter second, third or more careers as teachers, pastors, chefs, or any other mainstream vocation as not being equally valid late bloomers. There’s just not an easily accessible listing of them on Google!! The arts just seem to get more attention.
The late bloomer, however, while perhaps gainfully employed in something in their early adult years, is restless and unfulfilled in the day-to-day tasks involved in such vocations. Their spirit yearns for a different expression, and isn’t the way of our society and family elders to poo poo the arts as respectable employment. And, I would add to our unlisted late bloomers, that society and family also tends to discourage the change of career paths later in life as being fool-hardy and reckless. Which, of course, it absolutely is. Unless you succeed. Then it was a brilliant decision.
“Don’t quit your day job.”
Salvador Dali said “have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” This is good advice for late bloomers.
The late bloomers I’ve found so far pay no heed to the nay sayers around them. They just keep on, plodding, day by day, pursuing what they enjoy best, while still managing to feed their bellies and rest their heads on pillows at night. It’s dogged hard work that makes them an overnight success in their thirties, forties, fifties and up into the seventies and eighties.
In our modern times of economic hardship, I would say that we have a whole passel of potential late bloomers about! In my checkered past, I worked for a very large company that planned to “downsize” substantially and fire an entire division. The company brought in some high-priced Ivy Leaguer type so-called experts to handle this as a “third-party.” A “clean hands” kind of thing. The employees being cashiered, many of them just shy of qualifying for their pensions, were told that they were being given the opportunity to “repurpose” their lives. And they actually said this with a straight face. The company also made a feeble and superficial offer of helping to find other jobs for the employees. But there was such widespread feeling of betrayal and powerlessness over the cold and callous way this was handled that a lot of the folks went home demoralized. Especially the ones who lost their pensions. While this is a digression of the subject at hand, I do want to point out that if you happen to be in a similar position as these hapless former employees – do not despair, hons! Please. You can start again. Look at all these folks here! I’ll start up again tomorrow with individuals. It’s never too late. You don’t have to be the best. You just have to try.
So back to the highlighting of individuals. It seems the most important thing is to reflect upon the journey. It is the journey that matters after all. And, being me, I would add the maintenance of good grooming and cleanliness. And avoidance of all manner of criminal activity. With, perhaps, the exception of fashion crime (artists do have a reputation to maintain in some circles, after all).
Are you a late bloomer? I certainly am, hons. Or at least I will be when I get that old!