In a world full of ’30 Under 30 lists’, there is a storm of late bloomers shifting the usual milestone narratives succeeding at different ages and showing to the society that achieving goals – we thought were so important- don’t always happen when we expect them. Yes, talent sometimes may be waiting in the wings for a bit longer than people think.
These goals are relatively arbitrary and culturally prescribed – explains Doree Shafrir, the Los Angeles-based author, 44, author of the book, Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (& Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer and successful podcaster.- I now see that the things I saw as ‘mistakes’ were just another part of my story.
According to the author, who considers herself a late bloomer having been late “to dating, to sex, to marriage, to motherhood, to finding the kind of work I truly like to do and to being comfortable in my own skin”, the stigma of succeeding at an older age – including the idea that it’s less impressive and more surprising than doing so young – is an increasingly outdated and narrow-minded view of age and achievement.
Fortunately for many of us, life’s milestones don’t really need to follow a linear path. Given that we’re living longer, switching careers more often and seeking more meaning in our work, it makes sense for more people to ‘bloom’ later in life making therefore the construct itself of late bloomers outdated.
Doree Shafrir spent much of her twenties and thirties feeling out of sync with her peers. She was an intern at twenty-nine and met her husband on Tinder in her late thirties after many of her friends had already married, started families, and entered couples’ counselling. After a long fertility struggle, she became a first-time mom at forty-one, joining Mommy & Me classes where most of the other moms were at least ten years younger. And while she was one of Gawker’s early hires and one of the first editors at BuzzFeed, she didn’t find professional fulfilment until she co-launched the successful self-care podcast Forever35—at forty.
Now, in her debut memoir, Shafrir explores the enormous pressures we feel, especially as women, to hit particular milestones at certain times and how we can redefine what it means to be a late bloomer. “We need to remain vigilant and continue to challenge the status quo that ultimately doesn’t serve so many of us,” she adds.
Writing about everything from dating to infertility, to how friendships evolve as you get older, to why being pregnant at forty-one is unexpectedly freeing—she casts a light on the importance of removing the pressure to succeed by a certain time. Not only for our own mental health but also for the sake of all those people we currently labelled ‘late bloomers’; finally free to enjoy the unique successes that come with achieving things later without feeling a failure because of negative self-comparison to others.
“Yes, fresh, young ideas are great. But so are thoughtfully aged ideas. Maybe they’re ideas that someone has been working on, slowly and carefully, for years, even decades. When we want only the shiny new baubles, we miss out on the brilliant antique gemstones that are just as valuable, if not more“, she adds. And we couldn’t agree more.