• Nancy Mendelson

Why it's good to be a "late bloomer"

In 2017 I interviewed an extraordinary woman, Bobbie Rose. She was 101 at the time, and the finest example of a woman who defied the notion of a late bloomer, a term that had been often applied to me, and always with a “there, there--bless your heart” kind of tone.


“I’ll tell you what. Numbers don’t mean anything to me, they don’t define who I am – never did,” she shared with fierce determination in her eyes,” Although when I turned 90, I called my daughter and said, 90, that’s a big number. I better get moving.” Just what I needed to hear at a time I was approaching a significant milestone birthday.

be not afraid of growing slowly

Unfortunately, many of us have experienced a great deal of stress and anxiety due to cultural pressure to hurry up, figure out our lives, and chase society’s definition of success” writes leadership coach, Larry Cornett in his LinkedIn article, Late Bloomers Aren't Doomed. When you always feel like you’re trying to “catch up” with other people, it does a number on your self-esteem and self-confidence.

The term “late bloomer” always felt so one-and-done to me, as though we only have one shot at success or happiness, like the Century plant that blooms once in its lifetime, then dies. Oh, hell no…I’ll be having none of that bullshit! And that day I spent with Bobbie reinforced my belief that we, as women, can continue to bloom throughout our lives.

More than ever, people are succeeding at different ages. "Why do we hold onto the notion of 'late bloomers'?" asks Hannah Hickok for the BBC. “The ‘late bloomer’ concept is a relic of a time when we thought pace equaled ability. Now, we’re shifting towards work being a source of fulfillment, not just income. Once people realize that fulfillment produces excellence, not the other way around, we can help people to make their best contributions, whenever they occur.”

unpack it with nancy mendelson

Look no further than Forbes who, last August, announced Its first-ever 50 Over 50: Vision List, Highlighting Female Visionaries Over 50 Who Are Shaping The Future. “Women over the age of 50 are taking their careers into their own hands while disrupting industries and shattering age and gender norms,” said Maggie McGrath, Editor, ForbesWomen. “The visionaries on the list are leaving a lasting imprint on society and culture with their unique scientific and artistic visions. Through their dynamic ideas, they are proving that there is no deadline for success—or for the most creative and fulfilling years of your life.”


“People are always asking me how did I get this far. How do I know how I got this far! I just live my life.”

–– Bobbie Rose , who lived to be 104