I was a late bloomer.
When and where I started to school there was no public kindergarten, so my first school experience was first grade. I began in Florida where children had to be six-years-old by January 1st in order to be eligible. My early December birthday made me a candidate. But when I began second grade in Alabama where the eligibility laws were different, I had classmates with fall birthdays who were more than a year older than I. For the rest of my school years I played a lot of catch-up. When my girlfriends hit puberty, I was still a little girl. When they started dating and driving…well, you know where that left me. I started college at 17, which for me, was way too young. I struggled academically and socially for a long time. It was hard to always be running behind—trying to adapt and relate to my peers on their slightly advanced maturity levels.
After those tough years, being the baby of the group became kind of nice. At every milestone birthday they had, I reminded them that I had months to go before I would reach their ancient states.
Now, I am back to the original status with my peers. While most of them are retiring from successful careers, I’m just starting a new one—all after going back to graduate school just before my 60th birthday. This week I turn in my master’s thesis and on May 9th I don cap and gown and receive my degree.
This fall I will join the teaching staff at Truett McConnell College.
So…all of you—my contemporaries who are looking lovingly at retirement soon, think of me still struggling to come into my own. I’ll get there eventually—just a few steps behind you.