An acquaintance of mine once lamented that she was utterly frustrated with her lack of progress toward her dreams, given her age. According to her outlook, if you hadn't made it by then, you weren't anywhere near as likely to do so afterwards. A very late bloomer indeed, she ranted, and going to seed before the blush was off the rose, to boot. Ouch. Fortunately, I didn't believe a word of it and now she is happily off proving herself wrong in many ways - but I digress.
Far too many of us try too hard to jump right out of childhood and into long-term success before we've even figured out what we want. Sure, there are plenty of people doing it all around us - 20-something MBAs, 30-something CEOs and 40-something retirees. But what we fail to realize is that all the stuff we do until we move onto our dreams is hardly wasted effort, and all the stuff that these preternaturally speedy "reference points" skip over may well hurt them in the end.
Perhaps a little exercise in imagination will make clearer what I'm saying. If you had a child in college who was no less brilliant, no less studious and no less wise than any other, would you - in their first year at university - encourage them to take the advanced classes immediately, wringing your hands and bemoaning the fact that even though they've been attending a top-flight engineering school for 6 months already, they aren't anywhere near being a top-flight engineer?
Of course not! It would be ridiculous. A sound course of study is to spend the first few years taking basic, core curriculum classes that provide the foundation for the advance studies yet to come, and to use that basic-ed time to ensure that they are on the right major track while they still have time to switch - because, after all, the core curriculum is a required part of all degrees and nearly all such classes are entirely transferable to any major course of study.
Well, the same thing is true in life, but too few of us see that clearly or well. Just as too many students trip and stumble through expensive and exhausting majors as if the wolves of hell were nipping at their heels, only to find themselves suddenly shaking hands with the Dean and holding a degree that they can't even bring themselves to look at (not to mention the student loan bills that hit the mailbox the month after), lots of folks jump right into to what they've "always wanted to do" in life without even pausing to learn the basics skills necessary to live, love, survive and (most important) figure out for sure what they want to do in life. If you watch carefully, you'll see many of those eager-beaver corporate prodigies, early adopters and always-on-the-ball whiz kids sporting increasingly haunting shadows in the backs of their eyes as they begin to realize that maybe they jumped into things a little too hastily, that "on the ball" isn't exactly a stable place to be and that now they're stuck with responsibilities, expectations and "sunk costs" that are just too weighty to get out from under with any grace or dignity.
Sometimes it's good to be a late bloomer, seeds and all. After all, whatever we learn in the core curriculum of life will apply to nearly anything we choose to do with it later. Saving the advanced courses in life - the following of dreams, the searching for inner peace, the quest for the perfect mate - until after we learn how to balance our checkbook, love ourselves, think and act with honesty and integrity, and cook a decent meal - is not just a wise decision. It is absolutely, fundamentally the only way we stand a chance of getting it right when it counts.