The Art of Blooming Late | The Gifts of the Adult Years

Would you rather be a child prodigy or a late bloomer? Recently, I heard and read the stories of many child prodigies who made their mark in show business. One should ideally start young, and if they don’t, their ability to be great performers is usually hampered. Many of the musical great composers of our time became composers because they started ‘too late’. And by ‘too late’, I’m referring to adolescence.

When young children show early signs of talent, attention is usually–but not always–given to develop those abilities. While some find their purpose and calling very early in life, others in that same age group seem to be wondering: what is my purpose, will I shine, what are my gifts, am I ‘good’ at anything?

A late bloomer is a term usually used to describe a person whose talents and abilities are not visible to others early in life. This does not mean that those talents and abilities are not there. It is more likely that the potential of the individual has not yet come to the fore. It is hiding away till its time comes.

The term ‘late bloomer’ is used by educators to describe a young person who develops more slowly than others in their age group. This person, however, eventually catches up and in some cases overtakes their peers. It is also a term used to describe an adult whose talent or island of genius appears later in life than what is ‘normal’.

When a child falls behind their peers or is unable to ‘keep up’ during the developmental years, educators may perceive and thus label that child to be incapable. This perception may end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even after the child catches up, the people around them may continue to diminish their gifts.

The same argument has been made for child prodigies. That as they get older, they no longer show the same promise they did when they were young. Lack of effort is often cited, but physical changes and mental deterioration can also result in abilities that wane once an individual becomes older.

During adolescence, a child goes through physical and mental changes that lead to them becoming an adult. Adolescence starts with the first stages of puberty and continues until physical growth is ‘complete’. This phase brings with it many big changes–both physical and mental.

Despite the commonly held assertion and belief that intellectual development peaks during youth and then slowly declines with age, this worldview may be simplistic. While the ability to form new memories does indeed diminish (in many cases), an older person has many advantages. Some of them being; accumulated knowledge, experience, associations between different concepts, and the ability to create new mental patterns that could give them an advantage in some fields.

Politicians, in particular, tend to achieve prominence later in life. In the United States Congress of January 2009, the average age of senators was 62.

Long story short: it isn’t over till it’s over and it’s never too late to start.

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