“Do good things come to those who wait? I don’t know; I guess it all depends. Growing up, they said my age group belonged to the microwave generation —impatient, wanting everything “popcorn quick.” That made it especially hard when I couldn’t accomplish my dreams instantly.
My journey in competitive swimming began when I was only a 5-year-old. I remember those early practices where the promise of a tootsie roll at the end of each lap was my only motivation to keep going. However, as I paddled through the years, my love for the sport took root, growing with me from junior high to college.
I wasn’t always the fastest, and to soften the blow of losing a race, my dad often told me, “You’re a late bloomer, Toby.” Giving me hope that one day, I would attain the victory.
A late bloomer is a phrase he used to describe a person who fulfills their potential later than expected; they often have talents that aren’t visible to others initially.
My dedication was unwavering as I continued, but my speed in the pool could have been more impressive, particularly toward the end of high school and into college. I wasn’t the slowest, but my gold medal was often out of reach. I often took solace in the fact that “I’m a late bloomer.” Just like my dad said.
In the lull between high school and college, I stumbled upon triathlons. This thrilling combination of endurance sports had my heart racing even before I hit the starting line. I knew I was no longer a late bloomer and was delighted to win first place in my age group.
My victory could have been more impressive after discovering I was the only one racing in my age group, winning by default. It turned out I was still a late bloomer.
When I finally let go of the notion that I was going to be a professional swimmer, it initially felt like an admission of defeat, but it was really a recalibration of direction.
While I could feel my ego taking a hit, always in the back of my mind, I heard my dad’s voice, “It’s okay, Toby, you’re just a late bloomer.” A course change isn’t about accepting failure but acknowledging the many avenues to the finish line.
Not hitting it big in the pool wasn’t a failure. Instead, it was life nudging me to look beyond, to find where my natural strengths lay. Sometimes, instead of focusing on “what might have been,” you must look at “what could still be.”
A common belief is that shifting goals is akin to giving up. But that’s not the whole truth.
Remember, only you know your own heart. Shifting your focus isn’t necessarily waving the white flag — it might just be the turn you need toward your real win. Sticking with a lost cause doesn’t make you a hero —sometimes, the real bravery is in stepping away from the familiar and venturing into the new.
Being a late bloomer doesn’t always mean you’ll grow where you’re originally planted. If life compels you to reroute and venture in a different direction, don’t mistake it for failure. Instead, it’s a sign that your success is about to blossom — you’re just a late bloomer.
It’s not about the speed you reach your goals but more about the resilience and determination you develop along the way. Developing the ability to change course when the initial plan doesn’t work out and seeking success on a path less traveled.
As a kid, I’d listen to my father’s words and feel a comforting sense of validation. Now, those words resonate with even deeper significance. They remind me that it’s OK to take my time and that blooming late doesn’t mean blooming any less brilliantly.
Don’t be quick to deem your ventures as failures if they don’t work out as planned. It’s all part of our unique blooming process.
Sometimes, the journey you’ve embarked upon isn’t the one that will ferry you to the shores of success.
Being a late bloomer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve missed the boat. Sometimes, it means you’re getting ready to captain your own ship.
Toby Moore is a columnist, star of the Emmy-nominated film “A Separate Peace,” and CEO of CubeStream Inc. He resides in Bourbonnais and can be reached through the Daily Journal at email@example.com.
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