The Tedium of Blossoming

As I approach my 31st birthday, one thing is becoming quite clear: I will never hit Fast Company’s “Top 30 Under 30” list.

It’s also too late to become a 20-year-old millionaire.

We admire the child prodigy, the early bloomer. Every young musician aspires to be the next Hansen (when they were young, well, maybe with different hair. And music).

Most of us, though, will not find early success and fame in our field. Though we like skimming over the gritty details of any artist’s long story, favouring instead the “overnight success” narrative, most people we consider successful have a long history of obscurity, failure, and lots of hard work.

Maria Popova of Brain Pickings describes the journey beautifully:

“Progress is incremental for us, both as individual creative beings and together as a society and civilization. The flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst. It’s just that culturally, we are not interested in the tedium of the blossoming.”

When the legendary comedian and actor Dana Carvey learned that his fellow comedian Pete Holmes was only in his 30s, he told him to “give it another 20 years.”

Nobody likes hearing, “do what you’re doing for 30 years, then you’ll start to get good.” But time and again, that’s the advice that older people give. Maybe there’s something to it.

Ira Glass’ interview could serve as a weekly reminder on the creative journey:

“It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”