Ynes Mexia (1870 – 1938) is someone who found her passion later in life.
Born in Washington D.C., she was the daughter of an American woman and a Mexican diplomat, a prodigious philanderer. While she was living in Mexico, her father died, and then her husband of seven years.
At 38, she married again a 22-year-old man. While he might of been attractive, he bankrupted her.
She moved to San Francisco and for two decades was employed as a social worker. She had her own mental health struggles, and so she took long hikes with the Sierra Club. In nature, she found her passion: Plants.
In 1921, when she was 51, she enrolled in the University of California to take classes in natural science and botany. Then, accompanied by a Stanford botanist, she went on a 2 month expedition to Mexico. They returned with more than 500 specimens, some which had been undiscovered by scientists.
Many more trips followed. Altogether she collected over 150,000 specimens, aided by her ability to remember every plant she had ever seen. Her phenomenal memory helped her, while on her trips, to not collect the ones she already had.
Mexia could have stayed in the Bay Area and worked as a social worker. But she was open to following her passion.
Thanks to the Sam Maggs and her great book Wonder Women.