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For Late Bloomers


I definitely feel like a late bloomer in nearly every sense of the term. Romantically I've had more prospects in the past 6 months than I've had in the previous 26 years (although to be fair some of those years do not count as it would be silly for me to have a boyfriend at age 3). Even as a child I was off the charts for being too small, to the point that my mother took me to a doctor to see if there was actually some larger issue at hand with my lack of growth. Of course, with late blooming I don't mean to be so literal in my interpretation--I am not just slow at growing upwards.
To get slightly personal, in the past few months I've experienced romantic confusion, first dates, and now am happily labeling Thomas as my "boyfriend." Thomas is my first boyfriend. About a month prior to meeting him I was asked out on a date by a sweet young man and went on my first coffee date. Not my first coffee date with this guy, my first date full stop--not that I generally advertise this information. Do not mistake me for Puritanical in desires or expression, in many ways the opportunity for kissing or dating or whatever simply never arose for me; I haven't been turning down boys or wasting prime make-out sessions with incoherent babble. There are a myriad of reasons to explain these things--my (fully owned) social awkwardness, my family's propensity to move every few years, and my general late blooming.
I attended public co-education schools for 11 of my 12 years before college and I can recall friends who'd come back from make-out sessions in locker rooms with hickeys in the eighth grade. It seemed normal and I enjoyed their romantic trials and tribulations as much as I enjoyed our other discussions on favorite television shows and novels, but none of it ever seemed to touch me. I've often contemplated my future alone as a hermit not as one of resignation but with genuine interest in what I might name my Irish wolfhound and what climate or region might suit my disposition best. While it sometimes seemed ludicrous that I had so little experience most of the time I was perfectly content--either I'd find someone or I wouldn't. The latter option was (is) not the end of the world.
When the offer of a first date was extended by someone I was interested in, I accepted and didn't spend any time worrying that it was my first date. I hardly wasted any thought contemplating my first novel by a new author or the first time I tried a different food--I went in mostly blind and took each experience as it came. I feel like I was able to avoid a lot of the nerves because I'm not the overly shy, neurotic girl I was a few years ago. I probably wasn't ready to be dating even when I was a college student who was capable of traveling abroad alone, maintaining grades while also working, living across the country from my family, and other various activities that require some level of maturity. Just because you (or I) might be a late bloomer in one area or another it doesn't mean that across the board you're below average. I think it's important to focus on what we have done or can do as much as what we haven't--like getting your first job as a teenager and not quitting or reading multi-volume book series in the span of week. I find it odd that some people can make it to their mid-twenties without having flown by themselves or lived on their own or held a steady job--oddness is relative. Late bloomer seems to be synonymous with "doesn't fit an age-related mould." But most people don't fit a mould.
Style-wise I also feel like a late bloomer. As I've posted before self-consciousness kept me in jeans and tees for most of my school years despite my general dislike for said clothes. I also didn't wear make-up and routinely forgot to brush my hair until I was a senior in high school. I only started dressing in a way I found interesting the summer before my junior year of college. It was only a couple of years ago I was bold enough to cut my hair off and this summer to get the courage to dye it blue. As someone still overcoming shyness and self-consciousness any change that would make me stand out or could potentially look really bad is something that takes a bit of courage. I'm still getting comfortable in my own skin and less worried about how I look--which ironically tends to lend itself to more declarative style choices.
The large point of this highly personal post with potentially embarrassing factoids is: late blooming really isn't a big deal. It's perfectly normal and just because everything isn't happening now, doesn't mean it will never happen (something I felt at various stages). Growing up people can spend a lot of time worrying that their friends are having more experiences than them and not enough time focusing on whether or not they're enjoying their own choices. When I truly think of it I don't regret any evening I skipped a high school game or hang-out for book, I don't regret going to prom stag, and now I don't regret going on a first date that didn't lead to a relationship, kissing someone who I didn't end up with, or taking a chance on Thomas. It's not about whether you have your first kiss at fifteen or twenty-five; it's about whether or not you enjoy who you're kissing...

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you. thank you so very much. so many people need to hear this. including me.

Megan said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful post. Your unique voice is the one reason that I have continued to to subscribe to your blog though many google reader purges. I can identify with your late blooming and still struggle occasionally to accept that unique feature of my personality. The cautious approach to life is the one that most suits me and I do have to remind myself that there is nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, I recently turned 30 and am working hard to 'bloom' the areas of my life that I felt were held back by fear, rather than lack of interest.

Jamie S said...

I'm often quick to focus on what I haven't done or should be doing rather then appreciating the present good. That's a plague of people who think too much, I think. You may consider yourself a late bloomer in one respect, but don't forget the many ways you're ahead of the game in another. xo

Kristen said...

This was such an encouraging post for me! Thank you so much for writing it. I was always super shy in middle school and my early high school years before I finally decided to try my hardest to evolve into a more socially comfortable person. Now I have accepted my introvert status while being able to still converse with others when necessary. Still, I've been down on myself for feeling too shy to take other leaps in life but your words reminded me that the courage will come when the time is right!

anahita said...

Your honesty is really sweet. I think young people definitely worry too much about being at the right stage at the right time but it's like you say - when the time is right everything will fall in place. Until then, just enjoy being you.

Sarah said...

Oh this made me feel so much better. I feel like I always have to hide the fact that I've never had a boyfriend because I'm afraid people will misjudge me for it. I've always been a late bloomer too and this just gave me so much hope. Like that feeling that you're not alone. It's always nice to be reminded that we are all different and live according to our own timelines.

Winnie said...

I read this on my phone and then instantly had to go and grab my laptop to be able to properly comment....I love this post. I have to say that after so many years, you are still one of my favourite bloggers because I honestly can relate to you as we're the same age but especially with this post! It's encouraging, positive and makes people realise that they are not the only ones - and that 'Late blooming' really isn't a big deal. Thanks Rebecca! Super pleased to read that you are happy with Thomas too - he must be a great guy! :))

Rachel H said...

Thank you so much. It's so nice to hear someone say this who is a real person and not some self-help article or your friends or family. I'm working on accepting this about myself in the romance department, so this was a nice renforcement.

Also, I have been noticing that you have been looking more happy and confident the last couple of months in your pictures and posts. As a long time follower, it makes me happy that you seem to be loving your life lately.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post! It's really hard not to feel somehow excluded and alienated when you're a late bloomer and don't share the same experiences as your friends. So it's really important not to feel alone. This text made me feel a bit better about myself as a late bloomer with absolutely no experience in relationships.
- sophie

Anonymous said...


I cannot express enough how much I would have appreciated reading this post when I was 26 myself and was extremely self-critical of myself for being, well, such a late-bloomer. Why am I the way I am, went the voice inside my head then.

Few years later, while I am no longer so critical, I still have that voice in my head from time to time. Reading this post will be a good way to silence that voice once for and all! Whatever the reasons, whatever the events, the way my journey has shaped out to be is entirely unique and has made me the person that I am today - and I would not want to exchange it for baggage of unwanted experience and the label, early bloomer.

Thank you for the reminder that it's okay to be what you are - and learning to appreciate the journeys you have undertaken to come where you are.

reckless daughter said...

So very well said and I can relate in a lot of ways. I also agree that being a "late bloomer" has so many meanings and it is definitely all relative. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! You are beautiful - inside and out. Thank you for inspiring!

Mani said...

Thank you so much for writing this, Rebecca! Even though I'm only 18 I can still relate to the things you mentioned, and often feel like I'm not doing enough in comparison to my peers. However, it sounds like you're at a great time in your life right now and I'm really happy for you! I'll definitely be coming back to this post whenever I need some reassurance.

Jhan said...

Such a lovely, personal post. Thanks for sharing it with us. I completely agree with what you said about growing up and thinking that our friends are having more fun than us. The same applies to today with all the social media outlets and our friends sharing super-glamorous/fun photos. We sometimes feel that our lives are a bore, but We should totally be happy with where we are now. :-)

Sheena said...

I more than occasionally feel weird that I haven't gone on a first date (full stop), so reading this post was kind of like reading what I would write to myself in a few more years. Thank you for this, you are great

pulchritude said...

I was a late bloomer in physical terms, which I think has served me well in the long run because boys weren't really interested in me until much later than the average girl. I think it allowed me to enjoy my youth, to observe and to mature, without all the fuss. I'm married now to the first person I ever kissed. And it's great.

C said...

I'm also a late bloomer at 22 years old but have started dating someone who is now my first boyfriend (4 months so far). I've followed your blog for many years & I know you don't share many personal things here. So yeah, this post really resonated with me and I appreciate you writing about it.

bestie said...

beyond beautiful.

your recent posts on personal issues have been such incredible reads, and i think it's wonderful how you are continuously finding your [oh-so-eloquent] voice and expressing it in the most relatable way. i must admit, ever since i started following you on flickr years ago i've been curious about your personal life (a natural fascination, no?) and always admired your determination to save those personal topics for yourself, even when surrounded by thousands of bloggers who choose to do otherwise.

but these sharing posts have been truly delightful; like most people here i feel like i'm getting a better idea on what kind of person is behind all these pretty outfits and even prettier photos... indeed like getting to know an old friend even better. (:

Rebecca, The Clothes Horse said...

@Bestie, aw thanks! I feel pretty comfortable writing posts like this. I'm trying to make more of an effort to be open in general, but also with these posts it's more meaningful to be open/vulnerable than to say "oh I just went on a date and we'll see how it goes," you know? It's those everyday details that sometimes aren't just my story that feel too diary-style to share openly, but to talk about growth/progress, those things feel more organic to write about every now and then. For some reason they feel really different to me.
But yeah, online friends--it doesn't feel like I'm talking to a room of strangers but people I've known for ages. :)

Laura said...

This was so well written - and I completely agree with you. Somethings I feel like I way behind on and somethings that are going on in my life are way beyond my years. I think that people think that we all need to age at the same time, have the experiences at the same pace, but that isn't how it works.

Thanks for this reminder!

xoxo,
Laura
http://lauraisthriftingthroughlife.blogspot.com/

Angela said...

What a wonderful passage to read. I was even a couple years behind you on that first date thing, but I have grown so much since then it's unbelievable. That was a few years back. I now have a boyfriend of a year, and I'm still discovering so much. I feel lucky that I get to experience it all now for the first time. That it was all waiting for me, waiting for me to uncover it. It happened when it happened for me. And I'm so happy. And I never told most people about my lack of experience beforehand, but it feels so similar to yours. So thank you. And I'm happy for you too :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this! I'm also a late bloomer at 23, and I often feel so alone, because none of my friends are. I'm from a country where you are legal at 15, and most people fool around a long time even before that. When I was younger I thought it was me being weird for not feeling ready at all (not that I had any offers, I spent most of my life as a social disaster), but at one point I just realized that I spent way to much energy worrying about it. Anyway, it just meant a lot reading this, so thank you, truly, for writing it! It gives me hope and strength somehow. I love your blog and have been checking in daily for years, but I've always been too shy to comment - I've just overcome that.
- Rose

Elke said...

I'll add my voice to the throng and offer another wholehearted thank you. The passage about being "ahead" in some ways and "behind" in others is exactly what I've been trying to tell myself, although I haven't been able to find the words. I suppose it's all about balance -- and the girl who had a happy high school boyfriend but can't go to the movies alone is perceived to be doing better than the inverse. The only thing to do is watch yourself grow and not measure it agains anyone else.

Madeline Wainscott said...

I definitely needed to hear this. I'm a late bloomer in the sense that I'm almost 25 and still live with my parents, that I've never been financially stable enough to be able to support myself on my own. I guess we all have different things that we bloom late in. Thanks for this.

xo
Maddie

http://littlestylebird.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I've read your blog for years and never commented- but I just had to reply to this because it's brilliant and I can relate so much to your experiences. So, thank you so much, for your post, and your wonderful blog!It's great to know that someone on the other side of the world has so much in common with myself!

Bianca Y said...

Oh, this was just brilliantly written. All the best in your adventures in love!

alix said...

It was really nice of you to make this post. It's nice to get an insight into your life. And it was rather reassuring!

MintJulep said...

Again, you prove my opinion that you're the best online writer whithin a blog that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Your writing is done in such a way that you make things that might seem awkward and strange to people of a different background, a different experiences seem rather normal, not strange at all. I envy this capacity of yours, really, in a good sense. Though I do find it soooo strange that you do not have millions of guys throwing themselves at your feet, I think you're so gorgeous and interesting it seems really odd to me that you're not keeping guys away with the use of a hammer or something ahah. But then again, I'm not a guy, nor am I into women, so I may be wrong about this. I find you interesting but maybe in a "friends" kind of way, can it be that? Anyway, really loved reading this.
http://fashionfauxpas-mintjulep.blogspot.pt/

Hailey said...

That was such a great post. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share it.
I think I am a late bloomer myself. I am 24 and have never had a boyfriend. In my case, I did have a few guys who were interested, but whenever I realized that I discouraged them - maybe because I was not interested in having a boyfriend or maybe because I didn't know how to deal with it.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you, and it's great that you enjoyed your life as a late bloomer. I can totally understand that you don't regret having lived your life the way you did, it sounds like you had a lot of great experiences that didn't have to involve romance ;)

Hailey from http://squidsquads.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post...so relieved reading this. im a late bloomer too and never too late to find the love that i truly wanted all my life.

Shelby Ballou said...

I love how genuine this post is. It really resonated with me, as an early twenty-something...there is so much I want to do and so much I want to see, but all great things take time. Patience is truly a virtue! (And not one of my strongest characteristics...)

Cat said...

What a lovely post! I don't normally comment, but this post just describes me too well. I'm 19, and currently in that overly shy phase of my life. I've never had a boyfriend, but looking back I'm glad I didn't have one so far just to have one. Good to hear I'm not the only one :) xo

Geography Blog (de Annie) said...

...So I've been a long time follower and never felt the need to post anything before today.
This post really hit close to home. It sounds utterly creepy to say, but I think we are incredibly similar in terms of personality and the course our lives took - though you have 4 years on me, so I haven't hit the actual dating bit yet - still in the "coming into my own" college one.
I'll also add that in recent years as my taste in fashion has matured and I've gotten to know myself better, I've become more willing to really put myself out there socially. I always need to decompress after, but I think I've found a happy introvert medium where I can be around people I love and really put my energy into being outgoing, and then I just need some me-time to recharge. Really the difference between introversion and extroversion isn't (necessarily) shyness (though they often go together), it's that instead of becoming more energetic around people, interacting with them takes energy. It's not a good or a bad thing, just how one emotionally deals with situations.
Again, I guess the point of me posting is that I just wanted to say I'm so glad you're enjoying your journey through life, and are blessed with the self-awareness to be able to enjoy and embrace how you have developed. As a fellow introvert figuring life out, it's great to read about others doing the same.
Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog on and off (off only because I'll go through "ugh, I can't look at pretty clothes I can't afford" phases when I'm super broke) since probably 07/08 and I remember you posted something else years ago about being a late bloomer that really made me feel less alone. So thank you for this. I'm almost 24 and just started dating my first boyfriend about a year ago and I'm so happy I only suffered through a few awful "dates" (really I've only been on one other date before him, the others were just hanging out in bars) in the year prior to meeting him because he was worth all those years of feeling like I was missing out.

kate gabrielle said...

Thank you so much for writing this. I'm 26 and haven't had a boyfriend yet and it's always a relief to know you're not alone. Most people (myself included) tend to keep this bottled up, so we feel even MORE alone because nobody in this situation ever seems to share it publicly. You've really inspired me to feel less ashamed and just embrace the fact that I'm moving at a different pace than other people.

I'm a late bloomer in so many ways (style, sense of self, romance, career, etc.) so this post just helps so much <3

Léa said...

Thank you, the world needs to be filled with awesome people like you.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! I totally associate - I wasn't a late bloomer romantically, but I seem to have managed to get to 23 still having not done so many other things (I ate my first Chinese takeaway last week... it was delicious and I don't know how I went 23 years without one!!) and this reassures me that I'm not a freak for having missed out on so much of culture!

For what it's worth, I also think you have used your 26 years in awesome and inspiring ways - especially your travels and moving adventures and I am v v envious :D

Anonymous said...

Also, anyone who reads this far down in the comments, who might ever be feeling sad for being a late bloomer, this is possibly the most comforting article ever: http://rookiemag.com/2012/12/late-bloomer/

(I read it every day when I was unemployed and stuck in a rut!)

Anonymous said...

Lovely post. My favorite posts of yours are your ramblings.

MarieBayArea said...

This is probably one of my favorite posts to date. We all change and grow at our own pace. It's cool that you know this, and embrace where you're at. You're a peach miss. I love when you divulge just a little bit of yourself at a time. It's like receiving a very sweet and treasured gift from someone, because we know you wouldn't share this unless you really wanted to, and the timing was right for you.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. At the age of 22, I've always felt lost and like quite the late bloomer with a lack of boyfriend or any dating experience. Today is one of those days where I feel this sense of sadness and regret for not overcoming my shyness. But, reading this totally turned that frown upside down. Actually, I'm still feeling down, but this does bring a small smile in my face. So, thank you Rebecca. Thank you. :)

Staci said...

you are a ray of sunshine!

teresinha said...

Thank you so much!
As late-bloomer-in-every-way (seriously, my first tooth fell when i was 8), very introverted, student who recently turned 23, this is so much appreciated!
I know this wasn't meant for me, but it touched my soul.
You are amazing!

Jocelan Thiessen said...

I was a late bloomer but i really believe it was for a lack of interest in boys..when you are so busy in the bubble you created, it is so hard to care otherwise. FOr me it was drawing but i think whenever it is you make that connection. It is worth the wait!! Entries like this make your so called "fashion" blog have more heart to it. Which is why i love it.

Anonymous said...

I am a 22 year old college student who never went to prom in high school, never had a boy friend, never even went on a date dare I say, and who, even at this age, is rather clueless on this thing called "hanging out". Growing up I have always been shy, cautious, and an introvert who was completely fine with skipping hang out sessions with friends or make-out moments with boys for relaxation with a good book or movie. I was fine with it until my 21st birthday when I started noticing all my other college comrades having a so-called life while mine paled in comparison, dramatically so. I began to wonder if I was a defective person with some a brain chemical imbalance or a personality trait that was never learned. Even at 22 I still wonder if something is inherently wrong with me. It's embarrassing sometimes to come up so short. But this unusually personal post from you hit me hard. It must have been a little uncomfortable hitting the publish button, but Thank You. Seriously, thank you. It's nice to know someone out there, someone so interesting and lovely, has experienced a similar situation. But mostly it's nice to finally put a word to what I've been feeling for so long, "Late Bloomer". This post really makes me feel ok about being a late bloomer because in the end things will happen as they should in due time. And there is nothing wrong at all about that.

Unknown said...

I've always been a late bloomer too. I didn't wear clothes I liked until late high school and rejected almost every boy who attempted anything with me until my senior year. I'm still a late bloomer in a lot of regards. It's really comforting and reassuring to see someone who is so beautiful and put together who has similar experiences. It also makes me feel better because I'm 18 and i have a ways to go. It's just nice to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that I can still enjoy what I have now without feeling bad. Thank you.

Camomille said...

Hello from France!

First time I read your blog and I had to comment this post, because I think the same! I will not write down the details (too long) but I feel the same, I always felt I was a bit "late" comparing to others (in love relationships, style, interests, ways of thinking) but on the other hand I travelled a lot when I was a teenager and I spent one year abroad at 20... Some of friends start talking about weddings and babies, I'm happy for them but I absolutely don't want it now, it's too "adult-lik" for me (later, around 30... 35?), I just start wearing more girly/less "teen" clothes... I am not small but I look 4-5 years younger and I think it may have influenced it. But I don't regret it either, as I enjoy my life a lot now and always followed my personality :) Finally, the quote "everything comes to him who wait" is true, no matter your age!

Camomille said...

Oops small mistake: "adult-like"
And I forgot: I'm 25 ;)

Jenniferocious said...

This is wonderful, I feel like I could have written it myself.

I had my first kiss at 21, and I ended up marrying that guy. Sometimes I feel a little like I missed out on something, but mostly I think it is awesome that my husband is the only guy I have dated/kissed/etc.

Style wise, I have had the same tribulations as you. I stuck with jeans, tees, and hoodies well past my college years, though; it wasn't until my 2nd post-college job that I started to embrace any sort of "style".

There is nothing wrong with being a "late bloomer", and I love that you had the guts to make a post saying so. :)

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

Fantastic post Rebecca! Personal without being gratuitous and a comfort to many, many people I think. I think we´ve ALL gone through phases where we´ve felt we were behind or "late." Society puts so much pressure on us to do certain things, and sometimes it´s hard to keep perspective of what really is a normal time frame for experiences.
On the fashion side, I think it´s common that we lose our inhibitions and stop caring about judgement as we go through our 20s... so in that sense perhaps you aren´t a late bloomer at all!

Bronté Collett said...

wow I can relate to this on so many different levels. Even though I am only 17 or maybe, more importantly, because I am 17 there is this constant societal pressure to have a boyfriend by the time you are in junior high, to have had sex by the time your 14, to have kissed and dated dozens of guys and it is so crazy! How can you look at yourself and think something is not right, why am I so different. when the "norm" is significantly more outrageous.

Stefani said...

Thank you so much for posting this. As a fellow late bloomer (who still hasn't fully bloomed), it feels really good to know that I'm not alone.

Kacey said...

I really, really loved this post. As a nineteen-year-old who has still had zero romantic interactions and only got her driver's license a few weeks ago (and I live in a place where everyone gets theirs the moment they turn 16), I definitely feel like a late bloomer. Thank you for reminding us that just because we're a little late doesn't mean we'll never blossom.

(And since I so rarely comment I also wanted to mention how much I adore your new hair! It fits you so well, I wouldn't be surprised if you said it grew out of your head that way. I'd *love* to find the courage to do something similar some day.)

Kristian said...

Very Honest. Very true.

isabel said...

thanks for this lovely post :)

muchlove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thankyou for being so honest! I only wish I'd read this ten years ago - I spent most of my early teens feeling like the fact that I'd never been kissed or even been liked by a boy marked me out as wrong in some way. I had my first boyfriend at 15, which to me seemed late compared to my peers, but looking back, I wasn't really ready. I'm 23 and I've just started dating my first 'nice' boyfriend, so in some ways, I'm a late bloomer too! Also like you say, different people progress at different times, so this post was a welcome reminder that I need to stop comparing myself to my peers and focus on what I can do in my life. Thanks again :)
Beccy

Anonymous said...

As a 28-year-old who's never had a boyfriend, this was something I REALLY needed. Thanks Rebecca, you are beautiful ^_^

TheVoiceOfReason said...

Wow I really needed this I feel the same way about falling behind.

Guadalupe said...

Rebecca... I'm speechless. I can only give you an enormous THANK YOU for sharing your experience. I'm 22 and I'm always worring about my lack of experience in certain areas, such as relationships and the feeling of not being pretty-enough, and I feel like maybe I'm already too old to be grieving about these things, but your experience made me realise that it gets better. Thank you so so much! You have no idea how much this helped me. I'm glad to be reading this today and I'm glad that you're okay now. You're an inspiration, I love your blog.
Once again, THANK YOU!