You Never Wanna Peak in High School


If you’re a Late Bloomer, look at the company you keep:  genius Einstein, filmmaker Ang Lee, novelist Mary Higgins Clark, Laura Ingalls Wilder of “Little House on the Prarie” fame, artist Georgia O’Keeffe, playright Henry Miller….

Need I go on?


Everybody knows them—they’re the Golden Boys and Girls of the class, the certifiable trend-setters, the ones who establish the bar of “What’s cool in high school?” This is the top tier that spawns hope in those who aspire to those same lofty heights of social acceptance or feigned indifference in others who know they haven’t a prayer of acceptance.

Next, are the academic wonders who occupy a rung of that school’s social ladder, established by grades and IQ, one that values mental superiority. Rounding out the mix are the sports heroes, jocks and jockettes, whose blistering ability on the playing fields garners them respect, the cheerleaders who ever enthrall with their physical attractiveness and gymnastic ability, the musicians whose talent plays backdrop at various school events, a culmination of years of instruction in private and school tutorials, the do-gooders who find social causes by which they can flex their commitment muscles, the Goths who spurn conforming but conform in their non-conforming.

And then there’s that great swath of those who haven’t yet hit their stride (and have no clue what it is), the ones who watch from the sidelines, the shy who demur from public debates and academic decathlons, ones who disintegrate at the thought of on-the-spot quizzing at science fairs, others who steer clear of dances, Pep Rallies, or other social gatherings.

These are the ones of utmost interest, for many of them hold the kernel of future greatness, and many do so without the fanfare exhibited by others. They are unaware of their potential, often grousing to friends and themselves that “high school sucks”…they are lost and are unwilling or incapable of hitting a bar set by others.

A school is always a microcosm of the larger society, a training ground for the adult years; as such, it suggests how we will ultimately do in that larger arena. And on that training ground, all have different maturation points. Some will be marvelously successful within the next several years, while others will be on a trajectory that will steadily rise throughout their lives. They’re perhaps the luckiest ones.

What of the high school heroes and heroines? Often, many fade into oblivion.

So, don’t be concerned if your high school star has merely glowed, or even almost petered out, or that your track record (in development) pales in comparison to the afore-mentioned school icons.

This former teacher who engaged actively with thousands of junior and senior high school students over the course of her 30-year career notes the following: “In the grand scale of things, you never want to peak in high school.”

For, if you do, it’s all downhill after that.

Far better to amass life skills as one matures, taking in the lessons and learning throughout.  Then, you wax more brilliantly.  One day you look in the mirror and ask “Who’s that?” Instead of being the cursed thing you felt you were (at your lowest,) you learn you’re the star….It just took you that much longer. 

Know a troubled teen who feels apart from peers?  Give this column to him or her or tack it on the refrigerator. Many who’ve attained dizzying heights of success in later years (for whatever reason) reference their loneliness as a teen in school. They never blossomed ’til later.

When they did, they became a veritable garden.

P.S.  This advice works for older persons, too, who may feel it’s ‘too late,’ or believe their life is ‘spent.’ Remember the Biddy Bytes’ post on Grandma Moses, earlier this year, a woman who achieved star power in her 70’s (tho’ she never pursued fame and fortune)? And did you hear about the 98-year-old who just penned his first book  as a lobster fisherman (he was illiterate until the age of 96–but he stored up all his memories)?!

And now, a fascinating piece on “Late Bloomers” and why it’s definitely a preferred category.  You’ll learn such things as :  “… 45% (of the highest achievers in life) lost a parent before 21,” (adversity spurs on great accomplishment?) or  “As we develop, our brains transform into a high-speed, wide-bandwidth, internet-like system,” meaning that, at 65+, our brains are like Rt. 95 during the rush hour)  I 🙂 that!!!

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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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