I’ve lived most of my life feeling like I’m “behind” everyone else.

I don’t mean that I’m always late – I’m actually pretty fervent about being early.

I’m talking about feeling like everyone else is succeeding sooner or faster than I am. That feeling of, “I should be further along than this!”

Do you know that feeling?

If so, you might be a late bloomer like me.

Late Bloomers by Rich Karlgaard is the first in-depth discussion about succeeding later in life that I’ve ever read (though I hope there will be more!).

A late bloomer is a person who fulfills their potential later than expected; they often have talents that aren’t visible to other initially. The key word here is expected. And they fulfill their potential frequently in novel and unexpected ways, surprising even those closest to them. They are not attempting to satisfy, with gritted teeth, the expectations of their parents or society, a false path that leads to burnout and brittleness, or even to depression and illness … Late bloomers are those who find their supreme destiny on their own schedule, in their own way.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to copy what others were doing, or focusing on other people’s metrics of success, grasping for value anywhere. As you can imagine, that was a recipe for failure, like it is for most late bloomers.

Rich’s book covers the gamut of how our modern culture (especially in the United States) has become downright obsessed with early achievement (thanks Bill Gates); how it has affected many of the late bloomers among us; as well as a number of chapters on the advantages of being a late bloomer (finally, some good news!).

What I found most intriguing is that the many tips + tools that Rich recommends, based on research, to help late bloomers succeed in their own way are things that I’ve stumbled across in my 17 years as an adult (and yes, they do work!)

From consciously quitting (my favorite!) and the secret weapon of self-doubt to overcoming self-handicapping (guilty!) and “repotting” yourself to move forward, this book is a light at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel for a late bloomer such as myself.

My favorite books are the ones that make me think, “damn it – if I had this book 5/10/15 years ago, it would have saved me a lot of struggles!” Late Bloomers is one of those books.

When we take the longer road to success, we develop a clearer sense of where we are, where we want to go, and what new pathways are open to us. Along our different journeys, we find meaning and confidence in our adaptive skills. We try new things. We discover old truths. We conquer our doubts. We stop retreating. We value ourselves enough to take risks – to trust, create, and move forward. No matter what a culture obsessed with early achievement wants us to believe, life can’t be perfectly planned. There isn’t a single path to self-realization.

Do I feel like, at age 35, I have finally bloomed?

No, I do not, but I know I’m on my way, and thanks to Rich’s book, I have even greater hope, faith, + tools to help me bloom to my fullest.

(Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

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