I used to bristle when folks called me a late bloomer. (Those folks being my bestie, whom you’ll hear about often, and my mama, whom you’ll hear about often.) There was something condescending and juvenile about it, as if I hadn’t grown up yet.
The online definition I found for late bloomer is “a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual.” I like that, don’t you? No juvenility or stunted growth to be found.
Nevertheless, my blooming was a bit different. It wasn’t that my talents and capabilities became visible to others at a later time. I can honestly say that the important people in my life have always been pretty communicative about things like writing and what I can do. Major cheerleader action, thankfully. But those talents and capabilities were never visible to me.
I didn’t buy it. I was waiting for the Carrie-like bucket of yuckness to fall when people gave me compliments. I thought my writing was sub-par, that my strengths weren’t strengths at all, another blip on the screen of life. Lack of self-esteem was certainly the culprit here, combined with a long-held belief that those cheerleaders had something sinister up their sleeves. (It’s usually the forcible harvesting of my kidneys. Don’t ask. I watch too much Law and Order.)
Things change, though.
Women who are not yet 30 and reading this, embrace what is coming. I bloomed at 30. Something happened that day. I woke up and began to fall in love with myself, my writing, my mind, my capabilities, my body. There’s always, always room for improvement. I accept that. But I blooooomed. And five years later, the process continues.
you won’t find dignity in
the App Store of your latest iPhone,
and it’s not discoverable in those awful videos with those sad girls who writhe around on the hoods of those expensive cars.
Dignity is in the quiet clench of your strong jaw when you are studying.
Dignity is in the lovely curve of your mother’s cheek.
So appreciate her.
Dignity is the way you stand up when he or anyone tries to make you feel less than you are.
So stand up.
Stop learning how to twerk,
For your goals, for your future, for your self-respect.
Dignity may belie the volcano beneath,
but it isn’t a lie.
It means you’re holding yourself up and high–
Fall apart in the cool corner of your bedroom if you want, but you’ll get up anyway because by now you’ve learned that it all passes.
All of it and everything.
I entered the world quietly. No crying or whimpering. As a result, the doctor gently swatted me on the bottom. My mother said I turned my brand new head toward the doctor and seemed to gaze at him with disdain. Like, did you just SWAT me, fool? I then responded to the swat with a slight whimper. She had arrived.
And so she has.
I was born into a world of beautiful women who never hesitated to speak their minds; into a colorful world filled with electric sights and sounds; into a continent that can best be described as enigmatic and compelling. Yet I came in quietly and remained that way. I observed; I feared speaking up; I sat still. But I also loved what I loved, held on to what I wanted despite the opinions of others, and leveled that same seconds-after-birth expression of disdain to whomever warranted it.
Painfully shy yet unflinchingly stubborn. Wanting to be like everyone else for a long time and hardly a thing like them at all. Never fitting into the mold people expected of me, including the things I wanted for myself. And finally, finally proud of the person I am.
This square peg…is about me. The writer, the worrier, the dreamer, the art lover, the travel lover, the thinker, the overthinker, the African girl, the African woman, the American woman, the silly, the serious, the foolish, the fearful.