Doree Shafrir has written a new type of coming-of-age story with Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (and Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer. In this memoir, she details her own, unique, and winding path toward a fulfilling life. Her story is divided into three sections covering distinct stages of her life.
In the first section, Shafrir writes of her initial struggles to fit in at summer camp. Strong academically, she notes that she seemed to lag socially. She compares herself to her sister, who demonstrates a surety of herself that the author doesn’t quite relate to. Later, she decides to leave a Ph.D. program and move to New York City. Working as a freelance writer, she describes the challenges of trying to succeed in this field and the uncertainties it brought. Her talent was ultimately recognized, however, and Shafrir ended up working for several high-profile companies, including Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed.
Woven throughout, however, is Shafrir’s deep insecurities with herself and her romantic relationships. She describes the pain of leaving a relationship that had grown stagnant, along with frank examinations of later relationships that left her reeling. Shafrir notes with frustration, too, that she had reached her mid-thirties without committing to either a job or a relationship, in stark contrast to her younger brother and sister. She notes her conflicting feelings of joy and sadness when attending her sister’s wedding weekend. “This weekend shouldn’t be about me, but it was hard not to feel constantly reminded that I was single and ‘old’.”
Shafrir is determined to feel better about herself and starts making choices that support her new goals. She takes up exercise and counseling and then makes a big decision. After a recent work trip, she decides to move from New York to Los Angeles. Worn out by the dating scene in New York, along with the frantic pace of life, she is ready for a change and hopes that this new location will deliver. She worries that she is quitting New York; that if she was truly an adult, she would gut it out and continue trying. Shafrir struggles with this internal debate before reasoning, “This wasn’t a sign of being a quitter, or giving up. This was actually a sign of adulthood, I decided. I could finally recognize my needs and act on them, and not have to wait for anyone to give me permission.”
The second section of her memoir continues with Shafrir’s newfound resolve to find love and happiness. After struggling with her own identity in other relationships, Shafrir decides to focus on dating a lot of people to find out what she wants. She embraces a “saying-yes-to-everything philosophy” and described the pros and cons of how her dates worked out. Along the way, she determines what is important to her; the qualities that she seeks in a partner that is no longer negotiable. She also empathizes with those who are going through the same feelings of hopefulness and frustration while dating. And when she meets her now-husband, Matt, she finds that she is ready to be wholeheartedly herself. “Now,” she rejoices, “when I was actually being myself in a relationship, it turned out that the person I was with liked me more than ever.”
The third and final section of Shafrir’s memoir finds her debating a new career path and trying for a baby as newlyweds. She is now in her late thirties and feels the pressure of trying to conceive. Shafrir and her husband discover that they have barriers to conceiving naturally and embark on the long process of trying to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Shafrir documents their painful struggles to get pregnant, noting that they decided to form a podcast in the hopes of helping others going through IVF. Their willingness to share also provided them with an unexpected bonus: a support group. When Shafrir and her husband do get pregnant, she takes the reader along the journey to the arrival of their healthy baby boy.
Once again, it was as if when every other girl was born, a nurse had handed their parents a handbook with instructions on how to be a girl, but the day I was born, the copy machine at the hospital was broken and the nurse had just looked at me and told my parents, Well, she’ll just have to figure it out. I’m sure she’ll be fine.
Shafrir writes with stark honesty and a vulnerability that resonated with this fellow “late-bloomer.” This memoir should be considered a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered if they are on the right path, why their path seems to be so long or windy, or why it may feel so different from everyone else’s. She even mentions in the acknowledgments that after she started the memoir, it took her a long time to figure out what she wanted it to be, reinforcing her reflection on her own life’s journey. I so appreciate her frank approach to considering how her choices have led her to where she is today: a strong, confident woman who continues to blaze her path, no matter how it might differ from others.
Doree Shafrir is the author of the novel “Startup” and the co-host of the podcasts “Forever 35” and “Matt & Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure.” She lives in Los Angeles with her family.