We tend to think of our younger years as our prime. We have energy and vitality when we are young, and so we may assume that this is the best time to make things happen.
But our lives do not run on set schedules or timelines. We are free to start new ventures, find new paths, reach new successes at any age. Here are 6 individuals who could tell you first hand that some of us don’t find new professions and callings until we are past our “prime.”
Grandma Moses a.k.a. Mary Anna Robertson Moses, was one of the US’s finest folk artists, famous for her colorful depictions of country life. But Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was 78 (thus the nickname!). For years, Moses had made quilts and embroideries. When arthritis made these activities painful, she tried painting. Moses’ pieces are now found in museums all over the country. In 2006 her painting, The Sugaring Off, sold for 1.2 million dollars!
Famous essayist and humorist, David Sedaris, appears regularly in the New Yorker. His books have sold more than ten million copies and have been printed in 29 different languages. His recorded readings even earned him a Grammy nomination! But long before his writing gained attention, Sedaris was something of a vagrant: he couldn’t settle down and he worked a series of odd jobs. His most famous gig was working as a department store elf during the holiday season. Sedaris’ big break came when he spoke about being an elf at an open mic and was subsequently asked to appear on This American Life. Sedaris was 36. He then published his first book at age 38.
America’s favorite cook and TV hostess broke into the spotlight with her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Child was 49 when it was published. Child had worked on the manuscript years prior with her colleague, Simone Beck. But it took some time for Child to dive into cooking at all. After college, Child worked in advertising, and then found a job with the government during World War II. It was only later after the war ended and she moved to Paris that her interest in fine cuisine took a professional turn. She was 37 when she enrolled in culinary school.
Head of her own fashion label, Vera Wang didn’t start designing clothes until she was 39. For years, Wang was a fashion editor at Vogue and before that she had won medals as a figure skater. It wasn’t until she needed a dress for her own wedding in 1989 that Wang began making dresses. A year after her wedding, she opened up her own bridal boutique. Now, Wang’s brand is considered one of the most coveted and is worn regularly by celebrities.
Taikichiko Mori was a real estate billionaire and founder of the Mori Building Company. Mori is now credited with helping to make Tokyo the urban metropolis it is today. His buildings, made of glass, concrete and steel, were a far cry from the wooden ones he had known as a child. Mori eventually became one of Forbes richest men at age 88. But prior to working in real estate, Mori was an economics professor. It was only after he retired at age 55 that he decided to enter a new profession and go into real estate.
The famous colonel that appears on your bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken worked a variety of professions before he became famous for his fried chicken. Sanders fell into fried chicken when he ran a service station in the 1930s. Here, he made chicken dinners for customers and perfected his own fried chicken recipe using a pressure cooker. He was 62 when he decided to sell his recipe to a popular Utah restaurant. Later, at the age of 65, he decided to transform Kentucky Fried Chicken into a serious franchise and business venture.
Time gives us experience and wisdom. Sometimes, we can’t truly come into our own until we’ve acquired the lessons that only age can offer.