Confessions of a Late Bloomer

Late bloomer… It’s probably the best phrase that I could use to describe my life thus far.

Late_BloomerAs a child, I constantly felt like I was improving and growing, but also felt that I was always a year or more behind my peers. I believed that I was talented and smart (relative to others around me), but it just seemed like I would never catch up. Through my elementary and high school years, this became a personal handicap…almost to the point of debilitation at some stages of my life.

My older brother and sister were excellent athletes who won numerous awards, and I was the kid with a collection of 3rd, and 4th place ribbons.

I began to feel like I was always going to be “almost” something important. My school experience was a mystery to many, as I usually scored in the top percentile on standardized tests, but in the bottom quartile of my class in GPA. I had the highest overall score on my high school admissions test, but ended up graduating 67th in a class of around 90 people. I went to college for a semester, but I struggled through it and realized that it just was not the thing for me.

My greatest strength was always my ability to connect with people at a personal level.

After high school, I learned it was one of those intangible skills that was neither taught nor measured in my 12 years of schooling. I worked for my parents’ electronics company for several years until I got married. Shortly thereafter, my wife told me that my family business salary would never be enough to raise a family, and that I needed to pursue another career.

That was the first time I remember being told that a salary that made me happy just was not good enough.

More on that in my future posts, maybe, but it was an important moment in my life, because I would eventually begin believing it.

Soon after this “epiphany”, I applied for a job with Star Enterprise, a Texaco joint venture, and was hired to work at the Convent Refinery in Process Operations. I enjoyed my stint in operations, as I met many talented folks and mentors. It was then that I learned that I was basically a “learning junkie”, as I spent most of my time asking questions to understand more.

I was the 3-year-old kid who was always asking “Why?”.

It was the 1990’s, and this thing called “the internet” was really gaining popularity. Soon it attracted my attention, and I began reading books and taking any free online instruction that I could. As a first project, I built a web site for our site’s employee’s club, which became an instant hit. Soon more requests were coming at me, and within a couple of years, I was building cross functional database driven web sites to support some of the critical systems in the refinery without ever having taken a formal computer class.

I tell you this story to explain why I refer to myself as “late bloomer.”

It was at this point that I began working for a manager who became the first career mentor in my life. He suggested that I go back to school to obtain a degree. I returned to school from 2000 to 2010, starting in the BSIT program for three years until I realized that computers were a hobby, but not a passion. I swapped my major to BA in Psychology and Industrial Psychology in 2005, and persevered until I finally graduated in December of 2010. During my first stint in school, I struggled to keep my GPA north of the 2.0 line, yet in 10 years of school from age 33 to 43, I was able to graduate with Honors, posting a final GPA of 3.98!

Not bad for a kid who graduated in the bottom third of his high school class. :)

After living so many years in this race feeling like I was always losing ground, I ‘m beginning to feel that I have finally caught up. If I could have one wish, itdestination would be to go back and tell that 33-year-old that the path to his destination is simply a journey, and not a race.

I would tell him to take time to enjoy the journey, as arriving at the destination is not nearly as valuable as enjoying the moments that take you there.

I would tell him to be very slow in raising his voice to his kids.

I would tell him that the possessions his kids break will be of very little value to him 10 years from now, but the way he reacts will stay with them—and him—for a very long time.

Of course, I’m also wise enough now to know that the struggle through that journey was the only way for me to personally see it. Even if I had told the 33-year-old version of me, he probably would not have believed me anyway.

Well… That’s all I want to share for now, as I plan to share many of my experiences through future blogs, and I don’t want to give away everything all at once.

Where’s the fun in that?

I am grateful to Katie for inviting me into this space, and I am both honored and humbled to be part of this community. We are all on a learning journey. If you are reading this, I’d like to thank you for letting me be part of your journey. If there are any specific questions or topics that you would like for me to address, please drop me a line, and would be more than happy hear from you.

Hakuna Matata!

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