I turned 30 this year.
I can’t believe it!
I really expected to have accomplished more in my life by now. I am always fascinated by those stories of child actors winning an Oscar at 10 or 11, or novelists whose debut book hits the best-selling list when they’re 24 (ahem, Jonathan Safran Foer).
Orson Welles made his masterpiece, “Citizen Kane,” at twenty-five. Herman Melville wrote a book a year through his late twenties, culminating, at age thirty-two, with “Moby-Dick.” Mozart wrote his breakthrough Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat-Major at the age of twenty-one. (source)
Clearly I am behind!
I’m sure a big chunk of this sense of expectation has to do with the fact that I skipped a grade, was put in the ‘gifted’ and ‘honors’ programs at school and have always had 110% support from my parents. I am definitely of the generation that has always been told we’re special.
Did I fail? Have I disappointed everyone?? Since I’ve only got a Masters degree that I’m not really using and have a healthy marriage instead of a punishing career? (No excuse, I know.)
It’s frustrating for me to feel like I am “behind” in my career .. in my life. ….. Especially as someone who still doesn’t really feel like an adult, but also has a driving need to DO THINGS (whether that means accomplishments or experiences). Contradictory forces in me, there.
But, really, maybe 3o isn’t too old? Cory Doctorow’s first novel came out when he was 32. Not all that old, but what about Ian Fleming, who had a successful career in other industries before creating James Bond when he was 45.
Truth be told, many of those who seriously altered the landscape of our lives—from Charles Darwin to Sir Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin—were individuals who found their groove later in life. Many even started out delayed, only to end up successes beyond expectation. (from an article on Psychology Today)
But then there was Alfred Hitchcock, who made “Dial M for Murder,” “Rear Window,” “To Catch a Thief,” “The Trouble with Harry,” “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest,” and “Psycho”—one of the greatest runs by a director in history—between his fifty-fourth and sixty-first birthdays. Mark Twain published “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” at forty-nine. Daniel Defoe wrote “Robinson Crusoe” at fifty-eight. (from The New Yorker)
Of course, you can take examples from both extremes.
What matters most is that you’re doing the best you can FOR YOU. And all these other ‘late bloomers’ make me feel better about my own trajectory …. like it’s not too late for me to do something special*.
I feel like up until the last year or so, I was just *looking* … kind of treading water … trying to figure out what I’m really supposed to be doing. Trying to determine what I’m really good at. What my GREAT WORK could be. I tried music, I tried academia, I tried traditional ‘office/business’ work …. All while I finish things like degrees or putting my husband through school or working to save a house-down-payment.
Now I’ve finished all those things and am looking around at what the next part of my story is. I love learning, and I love the research process …. both things that can identify a late bloomer. And I think I’m OK with that. At least, I’m learning to be OK with not fulfilling my initial expectation (genius! fame! success at a ridiculously young age!)
The Cézannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition. (source)
So right now … my husband is on his way to being crazy happy and successful in his chosen field, and I feel like I can take my turn to try again. To find what it is I should be doing …. And I think a big part of that is what I do here at Lemon and Raspberry.
What about you? Have you found your GREAT WORK? or are you late bloomer?
In Onward and Upward – my online workshop beginning September 4 – we’ll talk about finding our GREAT WORK, no matter what stage of life you’re in. I believe it’s never too late. I’d love if you could join us, so make sure you’re on the L&R email list to get pre-reg info and discount before it’s announced publicly!
*(yes, I realize this sounds ridiculous since I have potentially another 50+ years of life left!)