Friday, August 03, 2007

From Late Bloomer's Revolution Author Amy Cohen

I can't say enough wonderful things about Amy Cohen's irresistible memoir THE LATE BLOOMER'S REVOLUTION (Hyperion 2007). I asked her to write a guest post for this blog, and here's what she sent me. Enjoy!

First, I want to say what a pleasure it is to speak to so many Late Bloomers. As I’ve said so many times, we need to stick together and be each other’s best cheerleaders, if only because the path to blooming late is so often paved with many, occasionally blinding, obstacles.

I think my first advice would be to look within. I needed to ask myself, first and foremost, what was standing in my way, and not surprisingly? It was me. Within a year I lost my mother, my boyfriend (who I was desperate to marry), my job (as a sitcom writer), and my face (to an eight month rash). That left me wondering who I was without all the things that I thought defined me, which left me to ask: Who am I? And what is it I really want from my life? And the even more difficult: So what’s the problem?

I will tell you honestly the look within isn’t going to be easy. It may even set you back at certain times. It’s normal to succumb to long, mopey days, months, and even years when everything feels just too big and overwhelming, but just keep going forward.

I learned this the hard way myself.

I taught myself to ride a bicycle at thirty-five. At the time, I had no idea it would be one of the defining experiences of my adult life. I was just feeling sort of bleak and depressed about my life, and I wanted something to make me feel strong, if even just physically. That summer was filled with enough embarrassing moments (yes, riding into several parked cars; falling off my bike often and very publicly) to fill a lifetime. But I kept going. I had a goal and I wouldn’t let anything (including bruises covering my entire body) get in my way.

Since that summer I’ve taken bike trips to the Canadian Rockies and New Zealand. A friend of mine said that what he loved about biking was that, “you can’t look too far ahead or too far behind or you’ll crash.” I loved that metaphor so much and have used it to guide me through many difficult times since, always telling myself to just keep looking forward.

Part of the reason, too, why it’s so essential to keep trying to nail down who you are (trust me, I’m still working on it) is that, if you are a Late Bloomer, it’s very likely you will come up against well meaning, but exhausting comments. Things like 'aren’t you a little old to be considering the Peace Corps?' Or “Well, that’s a very young business to be thinking about now.” For me it also meant considering having children older and being told by a highly recommended and very expensive doctor, “for a thirty-nine year old your options are running out.” And now I’m forty-one. He’d probably put me out to pasture. And while what he said may have been true, it was no less devastating.

I never set out to be a Late Bloomer. In fact, I agonized for years about why things hadn’t happened as I expected them to. I thought I would be the successful TV writer, with an English Sculptor husband, great loft, and cute kids. But that wasn’t my story.

Instead, my story has been filled with so many happy surprises I would never have even dreamed of for myself. Things that exceeded even my wildest dreams (and my dreams can get pretty wild.)

For example. when I was thirty-six I got offered a job as a television reporter (my first time on TV). I figured at thirty-six I had the shelf life of a gallon of milk, but I was wrong. Another wonderful surprise was my relationship with my father. We’d had a difficult time for many years, and after my mother died, we found each other in the most incredible way. Actually, we were both dating at the same time. He got offered lists of women, while I got offered bagel. But we supported each other and cheered each other on. Our relationship remains one of the great joys of my life.

Finally, I would say that you have to believe in whatever your dream is and know that it very well may not happen in the time you think and it may not even look like the dream you imagined (now I’m happily considering adoption), but that is the fantastic thing about we Late Bloomers. We’re dreamers, yes, but with the blooms to prove it.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the bicycle and the book. And for getting there with both. My experience is to stay in my 20s in many areas, for better or worse, experimenting non-stop with writing (my book Plan B, online), art, and a range of businesses here in Paris, each successful in small ways, wildflowers along the road. I think America has something to do with this: The culture demands you stay young for as long as possible, while achieving the most before you're 25. Thirty-eight isn't old at all in our culture, is it?


    Matthew Rose / Paris, France