Friday, November 30, 2007

Talented

It implies that you are somehow superior to the average joe. That you were blessed or endowed with an extraordinary ability to do XYZ. Talents come in many forms, and I would venture to say that there are a great many talents out there discovered and undiscovered... and I don't mean the next American Idol or Top Model. I have been contemplating talents recently because I have suddenly become a little self-aware and doubtful of my own self-proclaimed talents.

When I was in elementary school, I was placed in an accelerated/advanced reading program. That could be due to my mom reading to me a lot or going to kindergarten for 3 years. My mom was a teacher's aid when my brother was in kindergarten, so she brought me along. I was 3. She continued for a second year and brought me along. Then I went for myself. I suppose I felt pretty smart and seasoned compared to all the new kindergarteners. I had learned to read, so when I entered the first grade I was placed in a second grade reading class. Then I became a master speller and always finished my spelling exercises first scoring the best on my tests. Then I was placed in the Academically Talented program, which classified me as smarter or more advanced than the other students in my class. I don't remember much about it other than I went there a couple of afternoons a week and did a lot of brainstorming and writing. So I thought I was pretty smart. I got good grades and got into advanced and AP classes in high school. I got straight A's and felt like school was sometimes a little too easy. I had a good English teacher who taught me how to write what I really thought and felt rather than what she wanted to hear. She's probably the reason I like to write so much. And then I went to college and realized I was not that smart. There were a lot of people who were just as smart, if not smarter, than I was.

Over the years, people have told me I am a good writer, and I always liked to believe that were true. I wrote all through college and have continued since then. It wasn't until recently that something happened which caused me to think about this so-called talent. For the first time in a long time I actually considered that I am not exceptional in this area at all but rather quite a normal joe. There are lots of people who are better writers than I am. I want to write a novel or a book, but I don't seem to have a story. I have searched inside and out and lack a story. My husband is full of stories. So many people are. And then that lead me to thinking about my other talents ... photography, piano... and I considered that I may not be any good at these either. Perhaps they should be demoted to hobbies rather than talents. I wallowed in my own insecurity and self doubt for a couple of weeks, even to the point of not really writing anything.

The truth is there will always be someone better than me at writing, at photography, at piano, at cooking, at running, at whatever. It's not productive for me to worry about who is better at it than me, and this shouldn't be about anyone else anyway. I don't need to be the best at everything. In fact, there is no such thing. I'm only the best at one thing, and that is being me. So really the better I get at my self-professed talents, the better me I become, which means I just keep getting better and better. That is the idea really. The other truth is that talents are not usually natural ability but honed and fine tuned with dedicated practice. People who are good at things are usually good at them because they do them everyday. Perhaps if I wrote every day, I would be a better writer. Perhaps if I made an effort to practice the piano at all, I would be able to retrieve some of my former skill. Perhaps if I used my old film camera rather than the digital, my pictures would be better and more full of purpose. I have the desire and the passion... I just need a little more discipline and dedication.

There are a great many talented people in the world. I know hundreds, am related to many and married to one. God has possessed me with a great deal of passion and a love of life, which is why I have so many interests. He gave me the talents I have no matter how mediocre I think they may be. He gave them to me, which means their potential is unlimited. The only thing that is stopping me from being great is myself. I can only ride the half-hearted wave for so long, and it has just washed me ashore. I only get out of my talents what I put into them, which explains why the returns are less than impressive. My input has been less than impressive and foolishly overconfident in natural ability. There are masterpieces in me yet, and I can spend my whole life trying to pull them out. Only through the journey is the talent mastered.

4 comments:

Aaron, Lindsey, and Zander said...

This is a great "muse" Nikki! I think I really needed to read this or something! You said it best when you said you are only the best at one thing...being you! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Can't wait to see you soon. What dates are you going to be in town?

Margo said...

that was beautiful. i know you have a talent of touching our hearts. This was exactly what my heart needed to read. I love you. Thank you...

The Ririe's said...

Your writing inspires people...and that is talent! You do an excellent job!

Rebecca said...

I could go on and on re this topic--but suffice to say we only get spiritual gifts for the benefit of others. That is, I think we'll never be any greater at something than we need to be. Go read John Milton's sonnet "When I Consider How My Light is Spent."