Encouragement for Late Bloomers

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When I was a teenager, my pastor’s wife used to say to me “Kelleigh, you don’t want to peak in high school.” Well…there never really was any danger of that. She’d ask me how a recent audition had gone, or if I’d gotten that part in the play I wanted, and the answer was always no. When I think about my life, good things always come, but they never seem to come “on schedule.” Does that ring true for any of you?

I am a late bloomer. Always have been…in fact, I’m not even sure I’m blooming yet. In high school, I was super awkward (still am…especially around people that intimidate me.) And I wasn’t pretty. I wasn’t overweight exactly, but I had a little “baby fat.” Everyone scared me: adults, students at my school, strangers. And I just wanted desperately to be “OK.” I knew I wasn’t  ever gonna be cool, I just wanted to fly under the radar.

I spent a lot of my teenage years and a lot of my life wondering: am I pretty “enough,” skinny “enough”, good “enough,” talented “enough”….and really enough is enough. I no longer think there is some magic combination of things that’s gonna make you successful or happy. So maybe that means….I’m already blooming but hadn’t noticed?

If I’m being in-your-skivvies honest, I still really struggle with the pretty enough, skinny enough stuff. There’s a lie in my heart that tells me that I must be perfect to have a career in music, and that means look perfect too.

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But guess what, I don’t look perfect. I’m a woman, I have fat in certain places, I have wrinkles, I get zits, I have bad hair days, I think I have a weird nose…but even if I did look “perfect”—whatever that is— I probably wouldn’t think I did. Us humans have a strangely inaccurate perspective on ourselves. How many times have you listened to a girlfriend complain about some part of her body that you—as a bystander—have never thought was a flaw? I wonder what we would think of ourselves if we could just walk down the sidewalk past our own bodies. I bet we’d be like, “damn, she looks pretty good.”

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One of the weirdest moments in my career pertaining to this issue happened a couple of summers ago. A famous country radio morning show, The Bobby Bones Show, did a list of “Country’s Hottest Women” and I made the list.

Well, my phone starts blowing up, and when I see the article, my first thought is actually, “are they joking?” My second thought is, “are they making fun of me?” There’s no way I should make that list. I’m txting my manager, my mom is calling, the label’s calling, I don’t know what to make of it. Women, be honest here…isn’t this how your brain works sometimes? You jump to the worst possible conclusion?

Now, what I think they (the show & Bobby) were actually doing was putting me on that list so it would make some news, and get some attention for my single (which was struggling and on the verge of dying, even though it had already sold over 100K downloads)—which was really really cool of them to try to do. (Incidentally, this show does an amazing job of using their platform to spotlight new artists that may not get heard otherwise. And in my book, that is INFINITELY cool.)

So, the next thing that starts happening is the internet trolls erupt! I’m getting the meanest tweets I’ve ever seen, and that is really saying something because for some reason, internet trolls LOVE me. They’re actually writing to me at my twitter handle @kelleighbannen and telling me why they think I’m NOT HOT! Seriously, who does that? Guys, let me just say that it took me RIGHT back to high school.

{As some comedic relief…I’ll insert Jimmy Kimmel’s original “Mean Tweets” video here.}

But here’s the bottom line. For any of us—late bloomers, or high school starlets— there is no amount of outside affirmation that’s gonna make you feel like you’re “enough.” Sure, it’s really flattering when someone compliments you, but it’s not gonna fix you; it’s not gonna fill you because no outside voice is going to be louder than the one on the inside, and that’s the one we have to work on.

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If you’re a late bloomer I have some words for you:

1) You will shine, it may not be right now, and it may not be as quickly as you want, but you will. You will find your stride. There is goodness and fruit and life in front of you, and it will come, and there’s almost nothing you can do to hurry it up, or to slow it down. Right now in this very moment, I am getting to do the one thing I always dreamed about when I was that nerdy high school girl who sang Amy Grant songs to herself in the mirror. Now, it doesn’t look the way I thought it would; it hasn’t happened on the timeline I’ve wanted, but that doesn’t mean it’s not incredible in it’s own imperfect way.

2) You might be blooming already. See if you can love the place your at. In your heart, is there anything you can say “that’s really amazing” about in the life you have right now. Even if it isn’t EXACTLY what you want. Challenge the voice in your heart that tells you’re not good enough. Also, consider the idea that your bloom will not look like your neighbor’s or your best friend’s or that supermodel’s. What if blooming isn’t about circumstance, but about perspective. Also, what do the people who love you think about you? What does God say about you? Believe that stuff. Don’t let the world make you think you should be something you were never meant to be.

To my late bloomers, your day will come. It probably won’t come the way you think, or the way you think you want it, but it will most certainly come….and if you stop and look around maybe you’ll realize you’re in full bloom already. XO

Outfit details here:

Photos by the light-filled Dear Wesleyann.

6 Comments on Encouragement for Late Bloomers

  1. Marie LaMorta
    January 21, 2016 at 12:33 pm (1 year ago)

    I love all that you said! Be who you are and not what everyone thinks you should be!! You are talented and gorgeous! Don’t listen to that negativity!! You are blooming as you speak and it is going to happen big time for you!! Know it!! You deserve it!! Always a devoted fan!! 💚❤️💜🎶🎼

    Reply
  2. Christine Tully
    January 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm (1 year ago)

    Kelleigh strikes again with the encouragement! LOVE this post!

    Reply
  3. Debi
    January 21, 2016 at 6:52 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you for this article, Kelleigh. It was perfectly timed, and just what I needed. God bless you Sweet Lady!

    Reply
  4. Jessie
    January 24, 2016 at 2:48 pm (1 year ago)

    Such kind words😇You are such an inspiration!!!!

    Reply
    • Jessie
      January 24, 2016 at 3:45 pm (1 year ago)

      Trust is essential for human kind it is most important to fully understand that we thrive on competency basically when we are good at something especially common knowledge. Human beings thrive on human touch therefore being a part of the community being connected to groups and communities. If we live our life to the fullest potential it is our hearts desires, passion, love that carries us through. Love is how someone makes you feel it’s not selfish and When someone truly loves you they love your children they pray for you they want what is best for you not what you can do for them. Love is not confusing it’s not secretive it hurts sometimes yes but True Love will always overcome and carry you home. Simplicity! Some of us are leaders and some followers some strong and some weak. Some need the push and some of us are the pushers. Commitment and loyalty; i.e.; “I’ll take your word for it” my grandmother always told me if you don’t have your name you don’t have anything….. My grandmother was a country lady from the heart of Kentucky. Her words stuck like glue and as I grew up I understood if people can’t trust you and your not committed to the goodness of human kind, loyal and devoted good for your word. What do we want people to say about us when especially our children when we leave this world? What legacy will we leave? I choose to instill the same values in my children. To be strong and proud and when people say your name they smile and speak kind words. For those that choose to make excuses….. Put your big girl panties on and get over it….. Life is about making the right choices it’s about living and learning yes but when you get lost and you don’t take time to stop and ask for directions, well guess what you’ll keep driving the wrong damn way! Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you, doesn’t mean let people walk all over you!!! i believe in turning the other cheek but some humans want to force other humans into the sacrificial days; an eye for an eye??? Tooth for a tooth??? All we do crumbles to the ground but we refuse to see when we don’t recognize. Live in the real. Fulfill your purpose don’t give in and don’t give up. Fight! I may not always win but it won’t be because I didn’t try!! Bullies or Bulldogs are tough animals but she bears well there is no comparison. If someone asks me what is the most success in my life and what is most important I can honestly answer and say being a good human being is my hearts desire! Back to the basics.. God, My Husband, my children and well you don’t get lost when you put things back in perspective. Everything outside of those three things is a destraction. Other than work of course…. Lol… No free lunches in this world. Work is an essential too it’s expected it keeps us confident makes us competent feeds the good dog because there is no time to entertain the bad one! Happy Sunday and these words are original Talented Eye they are instilled so stop making excuses. Things are tough right now I get that but decisions have to be made everyday. It’s down to this what’s it gonna be? We are not two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl we are like two old stars that are still looking up!!! Some stars fall to the earth and some even burn sometimes but we don’t give in or give up we don’t break we just bend and in the end if we don’t make it we will always love and always be close!

      Reply
  5. Adélard Bérubé
    January 31, 2016 at 1:05 am (1 year ago)

    I know a lot of people who felt or feel like you! Being a man is much easier in this area! But as a teacher I saw a lot of girls specially,traumatized by how they looked! I’ve always felt terrible seeing them that way and tried to help by encouraging them be be who they really are! “If you not accepted for who you are I can’t see you being accepted for whom you are trying to be! Does this make any sense! Adélard

    Reply

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