I am a late developer – that should sound like something that should remain unspoken, but I speak it anyway because it is part of what defines me. Besides, there are massive advantages to being a late developer, for instance, you can get away with not being ‘serious with life’. You see, pressure to ‘do better’ comes from people who know you, but if those people expect little from you, it means freedom for you.
When you are a late developer, it means you are not on a timer, never in a rush unless it is a matter of life and death (including deadlines), and you are unbothered by what other people achieve, or how fast they achieve it. This, in short, was the reason I could not survive in the corporate world which is synonymous with pressure.
It is not something I was conscious about in my younger days, and I cannot remember what triggered the awareness. However, the realisation felt like putting the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle – satisfying. Being an ‘oops’ last-born child, born many years after all my siblings, I am what you could otherwise call an afterthought, and I guess that was where my late-developer syndrome started.
It is an awesome spot; you just have to exist and be a lastborn (irresponsible?), and the good thing about this is when you achieve something, people tend to be pleasantly surprised. That’s my life – I do stuff and catch people off-guard.
I was born ‘late’, I found my calling late, I got married late, and I had my children late. Then again, what is late, and according to whom? I may not remember when it hit me that I am a late developer, but I know I was always aware that expectations from whatever quarters irked me. I have been known to let people down deliberately because they expected stuff from me, but that was before I realised that I could not live a life of letting loved ones down.
When you are a late developer, you can appear annoyingly unambitious. In a way, I am, because ambition sets you on a lifetime of competition, always putting yourself against other people. I am not competitive, because being competitive dictates that you do the same thing, the same way, with the people you are competing with. I prefer to do it my way. Many times, I have watched my ken forge ahead because they purposed to beat everyone around them to be the best.
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Naturally, I have admired it, perhaps with a dash of professional jealousy, and then I remind myself how much fun I have had doing it my way, how I have not regretted any of the stuff I did when I was expected to do something else, and I smile and wish them good luck. My best friends in my younger days got married in their 20s, for instance.
I was always a happy bride’s maid, but at the back of my head, I wondered how tragic marriage was – how could they choose that, over say, partying and travelling? I did eventually get married, late, but have I never regretted my timing, my pace? That would be a firm no.
Think about mountaineering. The mountains welcome all types of hikers; from experienced ones to rookies. Whichever group they fall in, their goal is the same – getting to the top. Some will do it like someone is chasing them, only looking behind when they get to the top.
There are others who ascend slowly, make multiple stops to look around, sit down, inhale air from different altitudes like you would test the quality of a perfume, talk to strangers and chew on snacks slowly. But eventually, I get to the top, like the guy who runs there.
There is always a group that starts the ascent but never gets to the top. It could be because they run out of breath halfway and need to make a decision to abandon ship, or it could be that they realise the mountains are not for them, that they would rather be on a beach somewhere sipping sangria.
Whatever your destination is in life, know your pace, and remember it is okay to turn back.
Living Wellness Mental Health