Late bloomer

dontgiveup2.jpgWhen I was a kid, I was an overachiever. I’m sure it had a lot to do with reading. Our mother read to us and I read on my own early and voraciously. (The usual reasons: loneliness, broken family, parents who didn’t believe in television, a tough move.) So I had mad language skills when I was pretty young and it went on from there. Top of my class, most likely to succeed, admission to conservatories and good schools. I assumed my trajectory would continue on an upward slope indefinitely.

It hasn’t.

Why?

For starters, I chose the arts (writing, theater) which has no clear trajectory and which has a heavy requirement of support: financial (who pays your rent?), personal (do you have a cast iron ego?), interpersonal (does someone believe in you?), and professional (do you known anyone?). In my twenties, I had none of these, so I started working. I built a successful career in an area in which I have no particular interest (e-commerce management). My personality makes me good at it (high standards and organizational skills) and I’ve done very well, but it’s not what I meant to do.

(In retrospect, I could have chosen something more soul-deadening but wildly lucrative, like investment banking, but I just couldn’t get there. Too much math and lying. I also might have chosen something riskier, meaningful and proximate to my interests, like writing for the Clinton campaign when I had the chance, but proximate isn’t what 22-year-olds are about, at least not this one.)

Then there’s therapy. I went into therapy because I was depressed and couldn’t seem to get it together. I’m sure some of that depression was because of the dents and cuts in my head from banging it against the glass ceiling on the inside of my own head. Long story short, I’m damaged and driven, but not in the cool way that makes you a huge success at 26. I would have been fine with the damage if I could have had the success, the kind of damage that makes for a brilliant book about being damaged. Turns out my brand of damage was the kind that made me unfocused and frightened. Bad luck.

So here I am on a sunny Saturday, scanning the facebook of the Obama team and wondering what Jon Favreau (speeches, not Swingers) has that I didn’t. Hugs from his mom? Connections? Dumb luck?

Where I land is where you have to land, infuriating though it is: we’re all different and there’s no way to pull it apart, no way to formularize success. You do your own thing, you do your best and the chips fall where they may. Obama didn’t know he’d be President – he wasn’t even planning for it. Harvey Milk (well, Sean Penn) says, “I’m 40 years old and I haven’t done a thing,” and look what he managed in eight years.

So maybe I wasn’t a young overachiever, an early winner, an artistic debutante. I’m leaving my job to write. Against all my young expectations, I’m a late bloomer. As long as there’s blooming, right?

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Categories: News, Nuisance, Miscellany

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2 Comments on “Late bloomer”

  1. Em
    January 20, 2009 at 6:49 pm #

    You certainly shall not end up a rose that has ceased to bloom. I applaud your bravery in taking the road less traveled by; it shall make all the difference.

  2. Richa
    June 27, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    I share the same experience but have always beleived that later bloomers are deep thinkers and they are driving force in the world.

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