It’s Never Too Late

“Yeah, I’m losing my edge. I’m losing my edge. The kids are coming up from behind. I’m losing my edge.”

—“Losing My Edge” by LCD Soundsystem

In the closing talk of Webstock this year, Natasha Lampard, creator of this glorious experience, told a story about Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut from Milan. As a child, Paolo dreamed of being an astronaut. Those dreams were put to rest when he joined the military. It wasn’t until 1987 that he left the military and pursued his dreams of becoming an astronaut. Decades later, Paolo became an astronaut and finally went to space at the ripe young age of 50.

paolo

Dreams never die, but they often are buried—waiting for us to find them again, if ever. As we grow in our life they often get put under layers of obligation, new important things vying for our attention, and yes, sometimes toxic excuses as nails in the coffin of dreams. It’s never too late to start those dreams you had, learn something new, or changing your career.

“I’m too old”, “I’m too busy”, or “It’s too late to get started.” These words are echoed around us…sometimes by us.

Age is simply a number—a ring around the tree stump, telling how many times the earth has revolved around the sun in the duration of your existence.

Yet, it is often the comparative measuring stick comparison we use with ourselves in relation to those around us. As humans, we can’t help but think about age. It’s the stick in the ground that shows us how many years we have lived, and having us speculate how many we have left.

Not only is it intimidating enough to feel like we can’t start something new because we are aging, but the next generation of young and talented humans apply even more pressure. I started at a young age in both my college education and design career. Then something happened. Suddenly, I was no longer the youngest. Now, I find myself introducing myself to designers and artists younger than me, with fresh experience.

“But I’m losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent. And they’re actually really, really nice.”

It’s overwhelming and intimidating to see people younger than you achieve success in what you want at such a fast pace. It makes us scared of starting, because we feel younger people have so much time ahead of us.

The 30 under 30. 20 Under 20. Hey, the 10 Under 10? These people should be celebrated and commemorated, but often reading about early success discourages those who are feeling like they are losing their edge. Let us also remember to recognize those who spent their later years learning or starting something new.

In my 20s I had goals and aspirations to be 30 under 30, but it’s too late (and it is okay). The older I get, the more I seek longevity as a form of inspiration instead of early success.

Here are some examples of notable people who ended up finding success later on. (Note: if you are older than this, don’t take it the wrong way. There are a few examples I was able to extract)

  • Amy Poehler didn’t start on SNL until she was 31
  • Vera Wang was a figure skater and fashion editor before becoming a designer at the age of 40
  • Harland (Colonel) Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 65
  • Paul Cezanne did not discover his painting style until he was 56 years old.
  • Stan Lee created The Fantastic Four at the age of 39
  • Henry Ford was 45 when he created the revolutionary Model T car.

I believe these people simply found success not because of when they started, but how: through focus, passion, discipline and the dedication to try to make it happen. As my boss says, don’t create a sense of urgency but foster a sense of purpose, as she articulated so well in her post.

And for me, you may ask? What am I going to learn or start?

  1. I am going to learn how to make music on my computer
  2. I am going to learn how to prototype in Swift
  3. This year I started a new project called The Rock Tumbler Collective
  4. Going to spend more time photographing again

How about yourself? What are some things you’ve been wanting to do and start but have felt discouraged?

It’s never too late.

Notes:

  • A big thank you to Michael Lopp for encouraging us to write in his talk “Fear is a Liar”. I used the pen he gave me to write this post on the flight back from New Zealand.
  • Late Bloomers – Later in Life Success
  • Thank you, Natasha Lampard for another inspirational closing talk. I tell people that your talk alone is worth going to Webstock.