Musings + Essays

Late Bloomer.

By: Jen Shoop

*Image above via Bei Bei Wei.

When I was twenty-one, someone told me I was a late bloomer. “All you Nurmi girls are,” he said, referring to my three sisters and I. I was too distracted by the implied compliment — that he saw me as a woman blossoming — to register the prescience of his observation.

Because only now, on the downslope of my 30s, do I feel I am in full bloom.

By that I mean I feel thoroughly myself, from the crown of my head to the reach of my fingertips, no matter where I am. I am me in the drop-off line at my daughter’s school, as I wait for my vaccine at Columbia Hospital, while engrossed in conversation with my four-year-old daughter, when on the phone with my real estate agent, throughout the musing conversations with our lovely caregiver (“but do you think if we moved bath up that might help…?”), as I write this blog, amidst running into loose acquaintances on the street. I am less likely to contort to accommodate the expectations or interests of others, no longer easily mottled by criticism and comparison.

A small barometer, but in my 20s, I hated when people would ask: “Do you know about such-and-such?” (Insert any specialized area of information: the embroilments of a besmirched local politician, “earnest money” in a real estate transaction, the nuanced politics of Syria, the difference between “friends and family” versus “angel” versus “seed” money in early start-up financing, tax credits pertaining to the birth of children or purchase of property, etc.) If I had even a hazy understanding of what the person was getting at, I’d nod to keep the conversation rolling and save face. Nowadays, if I don’t know something, I admit it: “No.” I have come to a place where I view such admissions as implied earnestness rather than stupidity. I suppose I would rather apologize up front for ignorance than pay the price of being exposed as a fraud and losing long-term credibility. (Moreover, most people are thrilled to explain something they know well to the uninitiated.)

In short: I am me, I am me, I am me, in a much more fully realized form than I had previously imagined.

In this sense, I find myself an increasingly reliable companion. I anticipate my own reactions and am attentive when I see the potential for hurt or disappointment. We had some mildly bad news recently, and I recognized the sensation of despondency without letting it take control of my day: “Here comes that feeling again,” I said, and I readied myself. “It’s OK to feel disappointed. Let’s be disappointed. But know that this, too, shall pass.” In the aftermath, I looked back on myself and thought, “Hey, good job, you!”

Of course, there are moments of self-doubt and failure (you can see one chronicled in now-excruciating, self-indulgent detail here), but I am increasingly capable of expedient recovery.

A friend of mine, noting a particularly accessorized look I was sporting on a casual Tuesday, complimented: “Well aren’t you turned out today!”

That’s just it: in my late 30s, I find myself emotionally turned out: more well-equipped, more fully-clad.

Maybe, though, this is the way of the world: that we come into our own in our 30s. That we begin to curl up, cat-like, against our own idiosyncrasies and interests and foibles and strengths, as we tiptoe towards 50. Maybe what I am experiencing is not belated after all; maybe I needed the slow then fast accumulation of life experiences, losses, and joys, to bring me to this phase of maturation. And maybe I am neither early nor late after all. Maybe this is just what it means to bloom.


+I had the first stirrings of these sentiments on my 34th birthday.

+Years that ask versus years that answer.

+You are enough.

+On blooming where you are planted.

+On having a wishbone versus a backbone.

+I hope I am this kind of parent.

Shopping Break.

+As much as I’ve disabused myself of the notion of being a late bloomer in this post, my mother recently gave my children this great book: Leo the Late Bloomer. I love the way it reminds children that each of us travels at our own speed.

+More children’s books I love, plus my sister’s recommendations for books for independent readers.

+The Sephora sale opened up to all membership tiers today, and I shared THE ONE thing I think you should buy from this promotion here. (But all my favorite beauty finds here, across a range of stores.)

+This dress is so cheerful, and how cute would it be with this similar, but not exactly matching dress on your little?

+I think these are going to be my new go-to for birthday gifts for girlfriends this year.

+Floaty summer perfection. (More Shopbop sale picks here.)

+Just the cutest outdoor chair cushions at a great price. Another chic option here.

+Adorable straw hat for a little lady.

+On the heels of my post on chic throw pillows, Caitlin Wilson is having a major sale on some great styles. I like these scallop trim ones and these harbor striped ones to mix in with prints.

+Get the Cienta look for less for your little one!

+Love this mint green color!

+These chic outdoor dining chairs!!!

+Two new straw cup styles I bought for micro: this and these. I love the latter, which graduate from straw to small drinking spout to lidless. Also love the colors!

+I just love this two-piece for mini! More cute swim for littles here.

+Speaking of full bloom…I’m imagining wearing it with this headband.

+Two adorable dresses for your little one: this and this (swoon!).

+Adorable favor for a construction-themed birthday party.

+Adore these lanterns for an al fresco dinner.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

6 thoughts on “Late Bloomer.

  1. I loved this post. I feel similarly as I prepare to enter my late 30s (what!!) and it’s a relief in many ways. I am embracing the feeling of coming into and feeling at home in my true self.


  2. As a very late bloomer myself, I found myself relating and encouraged by your thoughtful post today. Growing up, I always had a much easier time connecting with adults. I found that I could hold my own and had more to talk about with them, than I did with my peers. It also didn’t help that physically, too, I was always just a little bit behind (i.e. still wearing Gap Kids because I couldn’t fit into Abercrombie, which is now I something I appreciate haha). It wasn’t until I turned 21 that I felt even remotely “on-par” with my peers. Recently though, at 30, I have felt that same feeling start to creep back in: that I shouldn’t be so emotional, that I should have things more together, that I need to be more adult and not let disappointments affect me so much. Meanwhile, I am in law school and planning a wedding. Your post was a reminder that I am doing my best, I am growing, still blooming, and I am where I need to be.

    1. Oh Aimee – thank you so much for your vulnerability here. I wanted to reach through the screen and give you a big hug when you wrote: “I am where I need to be.” Amen! Yes! Everything in its own time, as it’s meant to be.

      I have had the same exact thoughts you’ve mentioned, too — “that I shouldn’t be so emotional” and that I shouldn’t “let disappointments affect me so much.” It’s easier for me to say this to you versus tell myself, but I think some of my best relationships — and my favorite people on this earth — are with the ones who let themselves be moved, who feel, who live with hearts on their sleeves. I feel safe with those people and I love to see the world through their eyes. So it is also a strength!

      Anyway, cheers to a fellow bloomer (not early, not late).


  3. “That we begin to curl up, cat-like, against our own idiosyncrasies and interests and foibles and strengths…”

    Wow. What a beautiful sentiment – a line worthy of writing down and reminding myself of. Thank you.

    I too, find myself an increasingly reliable companion, especially when I force myself to abandon airpods & the constant nudge towards always listening to something – a podcast, a work call, chatter with my mom/grandma, music, etc. – on daily walks around my neighborhood. Instead, I’ve tried to do one of these midday, hour-long strolls sans headphone buzz, to just let my thoughts wander and coalesce; to listen to myself and mull things over without background noise. A great reminder that being your own companion is restorative & affirming in and of itself.

    1. I love your midday habit and am encouraged to try the same. I agree that being alone, truly alone, with your own thoughts is one of the best medicines (both of the prophylactic and restorative sorts). I think this is why running has been such a fantastic addition to my life.

      So glad this resonated with you!


Previous Article

Next Article