As someone who pursues different hobbies such as art, music and (obviously) writing every now and again, I get the occasional “You’re so gifted!” While this is well-meaning, it’s rather uninformed.
The thing that everyone should know is that with the talents I do have, I wasn’t born with them. When I was around 11, I began drawing much more frequently, but the lines were all wobbly. When I was 14, I decided I wanted to play guitar, but I couldn’t strum a chord without my hands cramping up. When I was 16, I took my first newspaper class, but I hardly knew a thing about journalism. Everything I’m good at now I had to put forth work and effort to get where I am.
Everyone should know that when it comes to several things in life, most people aren’t gifted or born with talent. I invite you to think about something you’re particularly good at, and to consider whether it’s something you’ve been good at always or if you had to work for it. I’m willing to bet that with most things, you had to put in the time and effort.
I’m not necessarily saying that people don’t have particular inclinations towards a specific skill. For example, most people who know me well know that I suck at math. I just don’t enjoy it and I’m not very good at it either. And that’s OK, because I don’t want to pursue it and I have other things in my life that I’m good at instead and that make me happy.
The main takeaway here is that talent takes work, and being “gifted” is a rare exception. Talent can be appreciated much more when you realize the work that went into it. If you want to pursue a skill, you don’t need to be good at it, you just have to have passion and a willingness to put in the hours.
Want to play an instrument? Make the investment by purchasing one and sign up for lessons or find them on YouTube. Want to be an artist? Purchase a sketchbook and take art classes or find an instructional book to teach you. Want to be a writer? Purchase a journal and just start writing. Once you combine education on the skill with the hard work and time, you’ll start to see results. So, go and pursue whatever you want; just because you don’t start skilled definitely doesn’t mean you can’t get there.
(Anna Mock is a news intern with the Chronicle-Independent, Camden, S.C.)