Creativity

There’s No Such Thing As a Late Bloomer

Learn why I hate the term “late bloomer” and why I’ll never use it. There’s no timeline for creativity or living your best life.

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middle-aged woman leaning against door while holding her cheek. Not a late bloomer.
Photo by Paola Aguilar on Unsplash

There’s No Such Thing As A Late Bloomer

Nothing in nature is late. Everything blooms at just the right time. And, so will you.

I hate the term “late bloomer”.

I always have. Even before I hit my late-forties. But, now that I’m of a certain age I reject it even more.

I walk my dog in the wooded trails near my house almost every day. I’m fortunate to be able to experience the seasons change with nature right at the end of my street.

Last Spring when the crabapples and dogwoods had just blossomed and lilac buds were swelling on branches, I had a thought about how late everything blooms where I live.

Then I realized it only seems “late” because I know when things bloom in other parts of the world.

If I didn’t know when things bloomed in other places, when the trees and flowers bloomed here would just be when they did. And it would be at the perfect time for where I am.

Think of your creative journey this way. Whenever you bloom is just the right time.

I think that’s why “late bloomer” has always rubbed me the wrong way. It suggests we’re supposed to have hit milestones by a certain deadline or we’re late to the party.

Late bloomer implies that we failed to nurture our creativity. That we were somehow irresponsible with our talents up to the point when we “bloomed”.

I say, screw that.

Maybe we did fail to nurture our creativity for very good reasons, or for reasons beyond our control. Let’s take the implied blame out of it.

Everyone’s journey is unique. It shouldn’t surprise us when someone over 40, or 50, or 70, accomplishes something amazing.

There’s beauty in the depth that age and experience bring to the creative process. Even if you’re starting something for the first time.

Photo by Kelly Newton on Unsplash

There’s no such thing as late and it’s definitely never too late creatively.

That’s something we tell ourselves when we are afraid. It’s a way to stay in the safe place we know even if we feel dissatisfied there.

Here are just a few examples of creators who bloomed later in life, but weren’t “late”:

  • Grandma Moses started painting in her late 70s after she retired from farming life
  • Mary Delaney was a British découpage artist who didn’t start making art in earnest until age 71
  • Claude Monet’s most significant paintings were created in the second half of his life
  • Vera Wang didn’t start designing wedding dresses until her 40s
  • Julia Child learned to cook when she was 36

So, never tell yourself you’re behind or it’s too late.

Late is relative. Late is beautiful. Late is just the right time.

Happy Creating!


Originally published in Medium | Curiously Creative.

For more on developing great creative habits see How To Approach Creativity Like a Scientist and How to Embrace Creativity and Shut Down Limiting Beliefs.

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