Novelist Robert Louis Stephenson once said that “to be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life.” In other words, the most worthwhile purpose in life is to become oneself, whatever that might mean to you. Individual development can unfold in diverse ways depending on one’s life conditions. So, it would be a mistake to expect personal development to conform to previously conceived expectations for it. Just because you feel like you haven’t reached your full potential by a certain age doesn’t mean you’ll never become what you are most capable of or truly desire. There are endless possibilities of what the mind and body can achieve, even later in life. No matter what your age or social position, you can learn to actively pursue your desires. You might be a later bloomer who is just coming into your own later than those around you.
Understanding and Pushing Your Boundaries
1Determine if you might be a late bloomer. A late bloomer is someone who achieves their potential in some part of life later than their peers. A late bloomer is not a failure, he or she is just someone who succeeds later than others. There are many ways in which your “blooming” could be delayed:
- Educational late bloomer. This could mean that your grades at school are so-so until suddenly you blossom and outstrip many of the other kids in one set of exams. Maybe you were able to connect what you were doing in school to some goal later in life. Or, you were able to use what you were learning about to somehow make your life better in the moment. Whatever the case, you will be most likely to bloom in an educational setting if you’re able to find meaning in what you’re learning.
- Career late bloomer. It could also be that you have spent the first 15 – 20 years of your adult life wondering what career you want. Then, you suddenly fall into it and do brilliantly. Blooming in a career requires that you find passion in what you do. You might fee passionate about the people you work with or the things you accomplish. If you don’t feel passionate about these things, try asking your friends or loved ones if they have been able to find that in their career. Or, you could try looking for new lines of work that might meet the important human need for passion.
- Social late bloomer. When everyone else was racking up their firsts, the idea of making new friends and dating was foreign, perhaps terrifying, to you. That is, until one day you realize that talking to people isn’t nearly as scary as it seems, and your social circle unfolds.
2Consider your constraints. Especially early in life, many of our decisions are based on the degree to which we feel safe in our environment. Equally important is our ability to form interpersonal attachments with other people. Even later on in life, fears stemming from childhood insecurities can constrain our actions.
- By experimenting with the limitations of your environment you can challenge your insecurities. In doing so, you can discover new possibilities for your life.
- To move beyond your constraints, you’ll need to try new things in many parts of your life. Any chance you can, you should try to expose yourself to new experiences. Later steps provide some specific suggestions.
3Experiment with your daily activities and your environment. Psychologists believe that our individual capacities are intimately connected to the environments we inhabit. Experiment with these life conditions by pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.
- For example, imagine you spend most of your time either alone in your home or isolated in an office at work. You’ll be quite unlikely to develop a capacity for traits like physical health or sociability. This will be true even if these traits are part of your genetic makeup.
- To move beyond these limitations, you might join a weekly physical exercise class. Or, you could just commit to going on more walks in the park. Either way, experiencing a change of scenery or pushing your body to do something new can open you up to new emotions and ideas about what’s possible.
4Develop new relationships. If you hang out with the same people every single day, you could be hindering your capacity to grow in new ways. Coming in contact with people who have opposing views to yours can expand what you think is possible for yourself and the world.
- Spending time with new people can expand your horizons. It can challenge stereotypes and prejudices and expose you to new ways of living.
- Strike up a conversation with a stranger at a coffee shop, or join a meetup group with people that you share a common interest with.
- If you feel unable to meet new people but still want someone new to talk to, consider seeing a mental health professional or life coach. They can provide a supportive ear and offer strategies for pushing beyond your comfort zone with others.
5Reconsider your perception of yourself. We often hold ourselves back from reaching our potentials because of unrealistic ideals about who we should be. These could come from your childhood, perhaps from your parents’ expectations. Even a quick comparison of facebook pages can create unrealistic expectations about life.
- Whatever the source of these perceptions, it’s important to challenge them when you feel they are holding you back. When they arise, take a deep breath and focus on what you can do in the present moment to make your life better.
- Try grounding your expectations for the future in your perceptions of the present moment. Focus on the process of building towards your goal as opposed to the end outcome itself.
- For example, imagine you have the thought that you need a new friend. Consider how you might go about achieving this goal starting in the present moment. Can you just make a new friend by willing it, or will you have to talk to a new person first? Perhaps simply surrounding yourself with new people is a necessary first step.
6Avoid comparing your life to others. We are each unique human beings, with distinctive bodily capacities and biological compositions. This means we are all going to develop according to different rhythms and paces. People meet supposed developmental milestones at different rates and in their own ways.
- The late 20s is the time many peoples’ brains and bodies stop developing at the relatively steady rate they had before. Nonetheless, the body retains a certain plasticity throughout life. This creates a potential for sometimes dramatic changes in personality and behavior, even later in life.
- No two bodies will develop according to the same rhythms and trajectories. That means it’s ok for you to reach cultural and biological milestones at different points in your life than others. It might even be ok sometimes to not even reach them at all.
- Puberty, for example, can begin within a broad range of ages. It will often vary depending upon factors like race, body fat composition, and stress. There’s no point trying to force your body to reach puberty before it’s ready. You’ll just put undue pressure on yourself to be something you’re not.
- If you notice yourself comparing your life and abilities to other people, take a deep breath and try to focus on the present moment. Finding joy and passion in the activities you partake in during your everyday life is the best way to bloom into yourself at any age.
7Practicing deep breathing exercises or mindfulness. Meditation and breathing exercises can direct your attention to your bodily processes in the present moment. These are great tools for managing obsessive and/or unwanted thoughts about the past or future.
- For some simple meditation, sit in a comfortable place with your hands in your lap. Take deep, slow breaths and feel the air moving through your body. Focus all your attention on your breathing. If your thoughts start to stray, refocus on your breathing and the present moment.
- As you become more skilled at focusing on the present, allow yourself to gravitate towards activities that interest you. This way, you goals and expectations for the future can develop out of your own desires and passions.
Making the Most of Your Strengths
1Get in touch with your introspective side. Late bloomers are often deep, reflective thinkers. They often have the tendency to try to control more aspects of life than their peers. You are likely a clever person; find a way to use your reflective nature to your advantage.
- Your tendency toward reflection and control may mean that others achieve their goals faster than you. But, because you take the time for careful thought, when you get an opportunity you may be more able and ready to take the helm.
- Practice creative writing. If you find yourself at home more than you’d like, or are just looking a way to spend some time, try practicing creative writing. This could be in the form of poetry or prose. Either way, creative writing can be a great way to tap into your creative side. This can help you blossom into something unexpected.
- Try making art or music. If creative writing isn’t for you, maybe visual art or music are. These activities can also help you get in touch with your creativity.
2Record your thoughts. Keeping track of your thoughts and ideas can help you get in touch with your desires and potential. Further, your process of getting to where you are may help someone else, especially other family members.
- Traits like yours can be inherited. If your children or another family member can learn from your experiences, you will have made life better for someone else.
- Keep a daily journal. Journaling can be a great way to explore your emotions and allow them to flow more freely into your everyday life. Don’t try to force your writing into a particular structure. Instead, write down anything that comes into your mind. Sit down and start free associating–you might be amazed at what comes out through your fingertips. This can also be a good way to encourage introspection and deep thinking.
- Keep an “ideas book” handy. Keep a notebook in which you write down your ideas, perhaps next to your bed or in your bag. This can help you in moments of indecisiveness or faltering confidence. Whenever ideas strike you, write them down. Late bloomers are often full of ideas, sometimes so many that they don’t know what to do with them. You may be wading in indecisiveness when an idea comes to you. But, that idea has significance and may be useful later on when you come back to it.
3Know your strong points. Late bloomers often have several qualities that are very valuable. These include reflection, consideration and patience. Late bloomers often have a high capacity for abstract thinking and creativity.
- Use these strengths to build up your self-confidence and to bolster yourself during life’s low points.
- Because of your patience and reflective nature, others may turn to you when they have personal problems. Use your skills to help them. Your patience and consideration are also characteristics you can use in choosing a career or lifestyle. For example, you might make a great counselor or academic.
4Trust yourself and your abilities. You are making progress and can overcome life’s challenges. If you start to falter, use self-talk to remind yourself that you are a competent person with valuable skills.
- Your achievements may take longer than others. But remember that instant achievement is not always a fairytale come true. Many people are afraid to take positive steps because they feel rushed and do not know what they’re doing. Late bloomers avoid that feeling by taking their time and making sure they do know what they’re doing.
- At the same time, learn from your mistakes. The obstacles you encounter along the road to success aren’t personal failures. They can be a source of valuable insights into how to do things better next time.
5Enjoy your successes and build on them. When you achieve something important in life, recognize your achievement. Use that success to motivate you to accomplish even more.
- It may have taken you a long time to achieve your goals. But, as a result, you probably know what you are doing far more than those who got there earlier.
- People may start to come to you for help as they notice your experience and knowledge. You have taken the time to think deeply about life. Further, you have reached your own conclusions rather than just adopting those of others.
Ask a Question
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- Help other late bloomers to find their path in life. Reassure them that they are not left behind or less intelligent than other human beings. We’re all worthy and we all have a purpose.
- Cultivate a sense of humor. Laugh often, especially at yourself. Laughter reduces stress and makes life’s challenges easier to handle
Sources and Citations
- ↑ Maxwell, J. C. (2008). Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success. Center Street.
- ↑ Gilligan, C. (1993). In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (Reissue edition). Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
- ↑ Burman, E. (2007). Deconstructing Developmental Psychology. Routledge.
- ↑ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/02/encore-career_n_2212614.html
- ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201212/can-you-measure-education-can-you-define-life-s-meaning
- ↑ Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2009). The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (Reprint edition). Concordville, Pa.; Norwood, Mass.: Penguin Books.
- ↑ Kidd, C., Palmeri, H., & Aslin, R. N. (2013). Rational snacking: Young children’s decision-making on the marshmallow task is moderated by beliefs about environmental reliability. Cognition, 126(1), 109–114. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2012.08.004
- ↑ Schrage, M. (1999). Serious Play: How the World’s Best Companies Simulate to Innovate (1 edition). Boston, mass: Harvard Business Review Press.
- ↑ Morgan, P. (2010). Towards a developmental theory of place attachment. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30(1), 11–22. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2009.07.001
- ↑ Putra, I. E. (2014). The role of ingroup and outgroup metaprejudice in predicting prejudice and identity undermining. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 20(4), 574–579. http://doi.org/10.1037/pac0000068
- ↑ http://www.joyfuldays.com/how-to-get-rid-of-unrealistic-expectations/
- ↑ Greenfield, P. M., Keller, H., Fuligni, A., & Maynard, A. (2003). Cultural pathways through universal development. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 461–490. http://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.54.101601.145221
- ↑ Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (1 Reprint edition). New York: Penguin Books.
- ↑ http://www.medicinenet.com/puberty/article.htm
- ↑ Fairfax, H. (2008). The use of mindfulness in obsessive compulsive disorder: suggestions for its application and integration in existing treatment. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 15(1), 53–59. http://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.557
- ↑ http://secularbuddhism.org/meditation-support/basic-meditation-instructions/
- ↑ Baams, L., Overbeek, G., Dubas, J. S., & van Aken, M. A. G. (2014). On early starters and late bloomers: the development of sexual behavior in adolescence across personality types. Journal of Sex Research, 51(7), 754–764. http://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2013.802758
- ↑ http://www.dailywritingtips.com/creative-writing-101/
- ↑ Hubbs, D. L., & Brand, C. F. (2005). The Paper Mirror: Understanding Reflective Journaling. Journal of Experiential Education, 28(1), 60–71. http://doi.org/10.1177/105382590502800107
- ↑ http://ideasuploaded.com/keeping-an-inventors-journal-or-ideas-book/
- ↑ http://www.2enewsletter.com/article_2012_05_eides.html
- ↑ http://www.rootsofaction.com/learning-from-mistakes-helping-children-see-the-good-side-of-getting-things-wrong/
- ↑ http://www.raminader.com/like_riding_a_bike.htm
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