“How are you talented?”
I was asked this question in a discussion over the weekend and it took a moment for me to come up with an answer. Here’s the thing: I know I’m talented. I know I have creative gifts. I don’t always feel like I do, but I know I’m talented. I also know that I probably have gifts I’m not totally aware of. I think everybody does.
But during this meeting, I didn’t feel like I was talented. I was tired, it had been a long week, and I hadn’t done anything creative for awhile.
And here’s the other thing: it isn’t in my nature to talk about what I’m good at. I can easily tell others how amazing and talented they are, but to talk about how I’m talented makes me so uncomfortable. I don’t like to draw attention to myself in general (which probably sounds a little strange for someone who has a blog, but it’s the truth). I don’t like to have attention on me.
(I’ll be completely honest: it always feels a little boastful too.)
If we were to sit down and have this conversation one-on-one, I would have a different response. I’d be able to tell you what gifts I have and what my strengths and weaknesses are within those gifts. It would still be a little awkward, but not quite as uncomfortable or hesitant.
But there was a time when even that conversation would be difficult for me. There was a time when I didn’t see myself as talented. I knew that I was passionate about things (specifically writing), but ask me if I was talented? I hoped I was. I felt like I probably had some talent. But I would never say that. I mean, what if I wasn’t?
So instead, if I talked about my writing, I’d put it down. “It sucks.” “I’m not very good.” “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
I think back to that now and I’m kind of shocked that I would say these things to myself. Luckily, I had a teacher who overheard me talking that way. He was teaching my senior seminar in poetry and he knew that I had challenged myself to write a book in a month, while writing a poetry chapbook for his class… while working almost full-time… while taking a full course-load.
“Crystal,” he said, “stop saying those things. You are writing a book and a poetry chapbook, while you’re working and going to school, and you have a gift.” He made me repeat it and then he ended the conversation with, “I don’t want to hear you say those things again.”
That conversation has always stuck with me, and it’s a conversation I’ve tried to share with others when I’ve heard them making similar statements. So if that’s you, if you’re feeling insecure in your gifts, if you’re not sure you’re talented or gifted, remember this:
You are gifted. You are (writing, painting, dancing, welding 🙂 …) while you’re (going to school, raising children, working…) and you have a gift.
Remember that, repeat that to yourself, believe it. And if you remember that and repeat it, you will believe it. I did, at least. That conversation changed the way that I view as myself as a creative. It gave me the confidence I needed to take ownership of my gifts. And that confidence isn’t boasting, it’s merely saying, “I’m a writer and I do it well.” We are all talented and we are allowed to take ownership of those talents. In fact, we should take ownership of those talents, because it will help us use them and use them well, even when we’re not feeling it.
So, tell me. How are you talented?
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