Confessions of a Late Bloomer
We sure do love to characterize our human lives as botanical events. If someone doesn’t hit puberty at the socially acceptable time, they’re a “late bloomer.” Losing one’s virginity is called “deflowering.” And we talk about people “blossoming” as they achieve their goals.
Everyone else, I guess, is a weed. They grow too fast and in the wrong place, and everyone’s eager to pluck them.
Or, they’re a slow-growing annual that could yield beauty for years to come — but they’re squashed before they ever have a chance to blossom.
It’s odd how people will give their plants more compassion than their fellow humans.
As a late bloomer in many ways, I often wish I’d had the time and nourishment to truly thrive.
Seeking the Sun, Smothered By Weeds
Some plants are simply more “fit” in the Darwinian sense. They propagate easily. Even if the ground is fallow (or concrete), they persist. But if they are undesirable, they’re plucked too soon.
For years, I idolized the weeds, wishing I could persist in any situation. I adored Elle Woods’ story in Legally Blonde: a Valley Girl, raised by superficial parents, who could simply achieve anything she desired by manifesting it. When she talks to her college advisor who doubts her ability to get into Harvard University, Elle simply says, “I don’t need backups. I’m going to Harvard.”
Hollywood movie plot convenience aside, I’ve embraced that attitude. And honestly, it’s worked fairly well. I gained admission to an immersive science camp, a dual-enrollment science academy, UF’s competitive anthropology grad school, and the Warrington College of Business’s incubator program.
Yet I was perpetually seeking the sun, an affirmation that I deserved to belong somewhere as opposed to growing from my own resilience. And that was where things fell apart. When I won a grant to pursue my documentary film, the department dean not-so-jokingly tried to wrest it away from me. My awards and accomplishments had an air of tokenism, that I was honored based on my gender rather than my ideas. Throughout my studies…