Late Bloomers

“Why do we equate genius with precocity?”

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Malcolm Gladwell wrote an incredible piece for The New Yorker in October of 2008 that continues to resonate deeply. After meeting today with a professor from a few years ago, the topic of late bloomers arose as we compared his son’s experiences in writing and the art world with my own. There is a great deal of weight to feeling like your brilliance has been wasted over the years, and wondering if your potential was squandered because you chose NOT to train like the prodigy they thought you were or wanted to be. I did not want to be Hilary Hahn, so I did not practice out of rebellion and the desire to establish my autonomy. I very much could have been her if I had only practiced – so said my tutor from the National Symphony Orchestra. As my favorite Miss Bennet states, “My fingers do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do…. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault – because I will not take the trouble of practicing.”

In any case, while I am hoping one of my main research themes to be on the mind, brain, and brilliance and all that correlates between, I found this article a great insight and resource of perhaps MORE research topics to consider. In the article, Gladwell brings up the idea that prodigies tend to be conceptual and not engage in open ended exploration, whereas late bloomers approach things experimentally and incrementally. Prodigies are very focused and often single-minded, where as perhaps those of us blooming later and researching our craft may just be explorers wanting to know all that we can in our world in order to be the best that we can. That’s one possible spin, anyway.

Check out Gladwell’s article here.


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