“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of ‘getting to know you’ questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.
“And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, ‘Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.’
“And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: ‘I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.’
“And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could ‘Win’ at them.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, novelist
I’ve felt this way so many times in my life. Haven’t you? That feeling that I’m not good enough at something so I may as well give it up. As an author I’ve had my doubts.
It’s true that the myth of talent and perfection can destroy our spirit if we let it. It’s the totality of our experiences, skills, and talents that make us who we are and helps determine what we can become. And a big part of that totality is simply having the courage and determination to keep on going and growing in spite of setbacks and failures.
I’m thankful that Kurt Vonnegut, an especially talented and successful writer, had that courage.
Is there something in your life that you know you’ll never be really good at, but you do it anyway because you love it? I hope so. Because that makes you a real winner.