Not a Late Bloomer, Creating a Legacy

Recently, when Phil Mickelson, at the age of 50, won the P.G.A. Championship, he became the oldest golfer to win a major championship.  Sports media tells us that he is a part of a growing number of sports stars who have defied traditional retirement ages for athletes, proving that careers can last into middle age.  Although, I do not really follow sports, the headlines caught my attention because, I too am over 50.

Forbes’ 30 Under 30, Inc.’s 35 Under 35, the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 and others lists could cause one to believe that life ends at 40.  In the U.S., youth is presented as a badge of honor, with captions like youngest CEO in company history, publishing a novel at 20, or creating a startup with the potential to be the next Google, Uber or Amazon before 30.  We live in a society where parents and kids are obsessed with early achievement from getting perfect SATs to the US Admissions scandals.

Where does that leave the rest of us? The term often used is “late bloomers”.  A late bloomer is a defined as a person whose talents or capabilities are not visible to others until later than usual.  But who gets to say that 50 is late?

Viola Davis is a Julliard trained actor who created a substantial body of work during her career.  However, she did not truly make her mark in film and television until she was well into her 40s. She became a household name at 51 years old thanks to her lead role in ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, which led her to become the first African American actress to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Julia Child was 49 years old when her 1st cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was published. At 51 years old she gained television fame with a cooking show, which premiered in 1963.

Vera Wang was a competitive figure skater, a journalist, and a fashion editor in her early career, but it was not until she was 40 years old that she flirted with the idea of becoming a fashion designer, launching her now iconic bridal line.

In my twenties, I bounced around from job to job, never satisfied with my career.  It was not until I took over a non-profit at the age of 34, that I really began to feel fulfilled in my career.  When, I was 40, I was running my own Allstate Insurance Agency, soon realizing that my heart was not in it.  After accepting a teaching position at the at the University of Maryland, I found myself teaching in a women’s prison.  From that experience, I wanted to help inmates begin the process of preparing for reentry into their communities as soon as possible, and not wait until a few months before release.  In 2014, I established the Maryland Reentry Resource Center to focus on improving the quality of life of families and individuals that are a part of the criminal justice system through informal, participatory, educational programs, case management, and mentoring. Although the organization was formed 7 years ago, it was inactive until 2018. It was not until May 2019 that I held an inaugural fundraiser and began seeing clients in June 2019. 

So, for me, it is not about how long it took or how old I am, it is about walking in your destiny and establishing your legacy.  Legacy is about life and living.  It is about learning from your past, living in the present and building for the future. My life experiences have prepared me to lead Maryland Reentry Resource Center.  My journey with its twists and turns, successes and failures have equipped me to help our clients reach their potential and not give up. 

As I look to celebrate my 55th birthday this year, I thought it most appropriate to celebrate it with the organization I birthed and am leading.  Please save the date of September 2, 2021, 6 pm to 9 pm at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.  Come out and help me celebrate 55 years and raise funds so that Maryland Reentry Resource Center can continue making a positive impact on the people we serve and the communities to which they return.

Published by Vanessa Bright

Vanessa is an experienced speaker, organizer and educator who has spent years teaching leadership and finance to individuals and organizations. From starting her own natural lip and skin care line as a social enterprise to establishing the Maryland Reentry Resource Center for the empowerment of inmates and the formerly incarcerated, her inspiration is always focused on upholding human dignity and setting goals that help individuals and organizations remove the social and financial barriers to success.  

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