Becoming a Late Bloomer
An Essay by Connie Goldman
One of my books is entitled Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer. It's a catchy title that I hope makes you want to open the pages of the book and give it a read.
But let me share with you the most important secret of becoming a late bloomer. No one seems able to explain the reason scientifically, but observation confirms that when people hold positive attitudes, their reservoirs of energy and potential for change appear virtually inexhaustible. This statement is not the same as saying that anything is possible as some popular self-help books imply, yet the possibilities for new learning and continued growth exist at any age. No matter what else you may have been taught or led to believe, the basic truth is that you are the one in control of your future and that fact implies embracing change.
A story is in order. Several years ago when I interviewed the late author and family counselor, Eda LeShan, she talked of an encounter with an oceanographer who asked her, “Are you aware that lobsters know when they have to de-shell? They get really crowded inside their three-pound shells and are terribly uncomfortable. And it is not possible for them to go on living if they stay in those shells. Their whole, hard shell comes off, and the pink membrane inside grows and becomes a harder shell and a bigger one. In the meantime they must go out to sea unprotected, which is very dangerous because they might hit a reef or a large fish might eat them.”
“At first it didn’t hit me,” Eda LeShan responded, “but then I realized that I have followed that philosophy of life always, and certainly it is my philosophy now. I go to the reef, even if it’s dangerous. You have to be willing to change. You have to become more flexible. You may have to face painful crises. Courage and a sense of humor are what you need. You know if you stay stifled where you are, you’re dead before you’re dead. You need to have the courage of the lobster.”
The challenge for each of us, whether we are in midlife or into the years beyond, is to risk letting go of who we were and explore who we are now. The personal rewards are new learning, continued growth, and an understanding of what we might gain with age, not just a looking at what we might lose. And that’s the real secret of becoming a late bloomer.
Connie Goldman, formerly on the staff of National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., is an award-winning radio producer and reporter who currently devotes herself to providing information and insights to enrich the lives of persons in midlife and the years beyond. She has co-authored three books, including Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer.