Note: You can find an updated version of this piece on Thought Catalog, here.
Hi! My name’s Jackie and I’m a so-called late bloomer. The good folks at Wikipedia define a late bloomer as someone whose “talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual.” My definition? Someone who played with Barbies wayyyy after their “fun and cool” expiration date.
I recently found out that my 13-year-old cousin has a boyfriend. Naturally, it made me think back to when I was 13; I had just started 8th grade and was rocking some fresh braces. My wardrobe was largely made up of the latest Limited Too fashions and zero bras because, let’s face it, I didn’t need them. My “Aunt Flo” was still three years away, my first drink was six years away and my first relationship was still 11 years away.
I watched my friends around me as they dated, and listened as they gushed over first kisses and everything else that I had zero experience with. I never had anything to contribute to these conversations and felt totally lame. But then I’d go home and watch Boy Meets World and believe that my Corey (or Shawn or Eric or Jack) was out there and I’d meet him soon enough. So I didn’t fret. I focused on other things like school and reading and writing and daydreaming…lots of daydreaming.
Graduating high school without ever having kissed a guy and without ever having had a drop of alcohol seemed to go against everything I’d ever watched on Gossip Girl. But then again I wasn’t living on the Upper East Side and my name was not Blair Waldorf (though I totally did dress up as her my senior year of high school — the irony now kills me).
Oh and remember that time I was Napoleon Dynamite during my freshmen year?
I’m choosing to write about this now because I think it’s important. It’s important to know that you don’t have to compare yourself to others or feel weird because you’re “behind.” You’re not behind. You’re not missing out. You’re being true to yourself and that’s awesome.
I used to be so embarrassed about all of these “milestones” I still hadn’t reached. Like, oh my gosh I’m entering my second decade of life and have never been kissed! I’m Drew Barrymore! I realize now how ridiculous my worries were and I hope that someone feeling that way now will read this and feel better. We shouldn’t feel pressured to change because society tells us we should’ve done this or that by a certain age. That’s not fair to anyone.
Being a “late bloomer” has actually given me more confidence today. I’ve learned over the years to be happy with my life and understand more of why I am the way that I am. I’m a patient person who doesn’t like to feel rushed into anything I’m not ready for. Why should anyone be embarrassed for that? I’m glad I didn’t waste years dating duds because now, at 24, I’ve found a gem of a guy who I love very much.
I’ll leave you with a quote from fellow LB Anna Kendrick: “When I was a teenager, I was an ultra late bloomer, and my mom would say it was a blessing because it means you never have to wonder if guys are only interested in you because you’ve got boobs.”
Spread kindness and cheer, xo