We live in a time of urgency. Our world involves drive-thrus and dating apps and ‘Starbucks pay ahead’s. Every task that can possibly be completed at a future date needs to be done now. Constantly, we’re being told that the world isn’t going to wait for us. That if we want to be achieve our goals, we can’t waste any time: that if we don’t do it now, someone else will do it for us. And if we don’t do it now, it’ll be too late!
The world bombards us constantly with the belief that success belongs to the early bird: that once you reach a certain age, your chances of success are minimal, so why even try? If you’re not doing it now, you should have done it yesterday. Whether your area of interest be creative or economic or dog-walking-related, we are told that we possess a very short window of time to manifest our potential. And once that window closes, it closes forever.
Well, I’m here to tell you that that just isn’t true. If you have a passion or a goal—whether it’s to be a sculptor or a dog walker or to just make a really fabulous cheesecake—it’s never too late! Maybe once you’re dead, but even then, you may very well be making cheesecake in God’s kitchen (or the other kitchen if you know what I’m saying). Who can say?
Maybe you would accuse me of lying or being inappropriately naive. Well, I would direct your gaze to the pages of history; so many people have found success and achievement after the world has deemed them “past their prime”. I offer here five examples of people who prove that there really is no age-limit on achieving your goals, and that sometimes the best needs to ‘mature’ before it can be manifested as reality.
This isn’t the first time Sia has shown up on this site as an inspirational figure (you can read a more in-depth discussion of Sia’s influence here). Born Sia Fuller, Sia struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol for most of her career, and very nearly committed suicide before a friend convinced her to enter rehab. In an industry dominated by nineteen year-olds, Sia’s didn’t become the pop sensation that is known to be until she was nearly forty years old.
Henri Matisse was thirty years old before he had even begun his artistic career. He made art up until he was in his 80’s and right before his death at the age of 84; this period is widely acknowledged by art critics to have produced his most revolutionary and sophisticated work, and was also the work that he is best known for today.
Who can forget Susan Boyle? When she shot to fame in 2009, at the age of 48, after coming in second place on the UK television show, Britain’s Got Talent, the world was stunned by both her exquisite singing voice and her unprepossessing appearance. She had been told time and time again that she would never ‘make it’ as a singer, and even Simon Cowell admitted that he had been ready to dismiss Boyle before she had even opened her mouth. Now Boyle Many cite Boyle as an inspiration and a relief in an age that celebrates youth, often at the expense of older people.
Eckhart Tolle’s success and international acclaim did not simply fall into his lap, and the serenity and strength that he embraces now did not always come easily; as he often reminds his readers and followers, he struggled with depression for most of his life before realizing his life’s purpose. It was not until the age of 49 that he published The Power of Now and he became the spiritual guru that the world now knows him to be.
You might not know her name, but you would probably recognize her work. Anna Mary Robertson Moses began her painting career at the age of 78. She worked most as a housekeeper for wealthy families for most of her youth, and after her marriage, helped her husband to maintain four separate farms. She had five children and it wasn’t until she had retired that she dedicated herself to her art. For three decades before her death at the age of 101 years old, she painted prolifically, creating 1500 pieces, one of which, Sugaring Off, was sold for 1.2 million dollars.
And though these people are incredibly inspirational, they are not particularly exceptional! Before you throw in the towel, remember that Vera Wang, Samuel Jackson, Julia Child, Henry Ford, Charles Darwin, Laura Ingalls Wilder (and so many more!) all had late starts in life and all became hugely successful. So don’t be so hard on yourself if you haven’t achieved all of your wildest dreams—there is no expiration date on success.
Author: Theresa Faulder
Theresa Faulder is a recent graduate student of the Masters English program at the University of Victoria. She was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, but currently lives in Vancouver, BC. She is a personal trainer, an illustrator, and magazine editor and writer. She enjoys baking, drawing, writing, and adventuring with friends, old and new. If you are interested in contacting Theresa, she would love to hear from you! You can reach her at her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org