Musings & Reveries: When you’re not great

While most people have special gifts and talents that they were born with and developed skills they’ve acquired — things that they’re great at, some of us are left with a handful of things that we can do, and well…we’re stuck with that. We just can.

Growing up, I wasn’t exactly what you would call a child prodigy of anything. I wasn’t the smartest, the most talented, or the quickest learner; I wasn’t “special”. When you’re young, that’s not such a big deal.

“Oh, don’t worry! She’ll find her forte when she grows up.”

I’ve already grown up and I still haven’t found it, and I refuse to be sorry for it. Soon, I’ll be entering my 20’s and I have an arsenal of things I’m “okay” at. I still can’t tell you what I’m great at doing. My spirit may have been dampened, but my flame still continues to burn; thanks to my “fuel” — curiosity and passion.

If you would have my mom describe me when I was a kid, she would say “adventurous” and “very curious”, and sometimes, to a fault. I was always tinkering with my siblings’ things, stalking them and watching their activities, and mimicking the things that they do. I often got into trouble because I was always trying to handle things on my own (i.e. That one time when I was 4 years old, convinced that I could give myself a haircut better than the hairdresser that lives next door, haha!) And when it came to what I wanted to be when I grew up? It was a roller coaster ride. I would’ve given you a different answer every time you asked.

Thankfully, my family fully supported my venturesome nature. They signed me up for various workshops and activities, let me explore different hobbies, gave me the freedom to just try things whether or not I was good at them. That’s how I ended up being a sort of all-around person. I’ve learned to do a lot of things! The only problem is my skill level [in those things] ranges from novice to mildly adept, not expert or master. (Whoops, slipped in a Skyrim reference.)

I’m sure some of you can relate when I say that in the “real” and “grown up” world, being just “okay” sucks. People of your same age or younger are achieving great things and you’re still feeling your way.

  • In school, your classmates are up on stage receiving awards, medals, and trophies. You’re sitting on the bleachers, clapping as their names are called. You know that when yours is called, it will be underwhelming.
  • In college, you don’t bother looking at the Dean’s List. You know your name isn’t there (or at the very least, it’s at the bottom). Your batch mates are graduating while you’re retaking your class for the nth time because you keep dropping/failing it.
  • When applying for jobs, you half-heartedly send in your resume, already expecting to be turned down because it’s nearly blank due to the lack of achievements.
  • When asked “So, what can you do? What are you good at?” , you tense up and buffer. You question yourself, “What can I do? Am I even good at anything?” 

Well, this is the reality for some of us. So…how do you deal with it?

Be curious. 
For as long as your desire to learn and try new things is alive, you already have something to keep you going. You’re setting yourself up to have a multitude of options; you become versatile and flexible to situations. Be a sponge — absorb influence, lessons, and inspiration.

Be passionate.
Let’s be real. Sometimes, talent and skill can only get you so far. A child born with the natural talent to play an instrument, but has no passion for music will not play the sweetest symphonies. Meanwhile, you may not have been granted the same gift of talent, but your burning passion will keep you eager to learn. And while you probably won’t be able to play as effortlessly as someone who’s a “natural”, whatever tune you play comes from the heart — and you really worked to be able to do it. That’s something!

Here’s some food for thought: Never stop learning because life never stops teaching. 

So, come to think of it: even if you’re already talented and skilled, it wouldn’t hurt to keep thinking that you’re not great because you, yourself will allow more room for growth and development. By no means am I telling any of you to undermine, berate, devalue, of underestimate yourselves. Simply put: stop aiming to be the definition of “great”. We are all very good when we do our very best, and our best is great enough.

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