Enjoyment, passion trump talent when finding a hobby

Natural talent is something continually praised, particularly in today’s society. “That kid’s a natural!” the announcers exclaim. “He was born with this ability!” Many times these “naturals” are lauded for what they can accomplish, but it is often second nature for them. While it is wonderful what they are capable of, it can sometimes discourage other people who do not have any natural talent in that area. Frequently, they end up quitting because they feel like no matter how hard they try, they will never match up to what the others are capable of doing.

I know I’ve felt this way before. I am not at all athletic, yet I decided to figure skate and take martial arts. I knew from the start that I could never match up to what the professionals did, but I wanted to learn the skills and do them recreationally. Watching the other people in my classes could become rather discouraging. They were often faster, stronger, and more flexible than I was and seemed to always get ahead of me while I was stuck on one thing that they seemed to master rapidly. Everyone was nice enough, but they frequently took their gifts completely for granted. The things they spoke of so easily mastering took me weeks, sometimes months, of hard work to get down and even more time to become consistent.

So why did I keep doing this even though I knew I would never match up to others? I enjoyed the activities. Just because I wasn’t naturally talented didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy what I did. Yes, I wouldn’t be as good as others, but I was doing these activities for me, not to impress anyone else or to compete. I do them so I can strive for improvement in something I can enjoy later in life. At times it is really hard to keep going, but I persist even if the last thing I want to do is walk out the front door and go somewhere else.

As I keep it up, something interesting happens: even though I wasn’t the best, I am becoming relatively good. Sometimes, I even surpass the people who were naturally gifted but had not been training as long as me. What’s more, I feel even more satisfaction that I have reached the level I have. The naturals may have reached that point faster, but they did not feel near the same sense of satisfaction as I did. Matching up to others wasn’t the point at all, and if I always focus on comparing myself, I will become discouraged and eventually quit.

So whenever I see a person quitting an activity they enjoy because they aren’t as good as everyone else, I feel extremely disappointed. Just because they aren’t naturally talented doesn’t mean they should give up. Instead, that’s something they can work towards and become better in. This doesn’t just refer to sports but other activities as well, whether it be chess or cooking or painting or anything else. Some people are given gifts in those areas, and some are not. However, if you love and enjoy an activity, you shouldn’t let other people’s abilities interfere with your own interest. It is to make you a better person, not anyone else.

I am still haunted by an experience a long, long time ago in ice skating. I was talking to another girl, and she made the comment that if she didn’t pass this next test, she was quitting. When she did not pass, she had this devastated look on her face, and sure enough, I never saw her again. Perhaps there were more reasons for her quitting than I was aware of, but the impression that I had at the time was that she couldn’t stand the idea of not advancing at the same rate as everyone else and gave up. She loved to skate, but because she was not as good as everyone else, figure skating lost all of its previous joy and she was unable to bear it. I still wonder what would have happened if she had persisted in skating, but neither I nor anyone else will ever know because she refused to accept not having natural ability.

Not being naturally gifted in an area is okay. Sometimes people are teased or even bullied because they cannot do something that comes naturally to others. If they are trying their best, what is there to make fun of? They are certainly working harder than people to whom the activity is second nature. What matters the most is them enjoying what they are doing. Furthermore, they more than likely are very skilled in another area, and this activity is only for recreational purposes.

Part of this involves discovering your gifts. Frequently, what you are really interested in and what you are good at coincide. Even if that isn’t the case, there is something out there that fits everyone, even if it isn’t always apparent at first. If you love to be around and talk to people, you might fit perfectly as some sort of social worker. If you are always being dramatic, acting might be a good career choice for you. Some of these personality traits that may seem to be weaknesses at first may turn out to be your biggest strengths.

If you are gifted in an area, don’t brag about it or rub it in other people’s faces. Chances are, they are much more skilled at you in something else and would destroy you if the two of you competed. Don’t do worse just so other people will feel better about themselves; it is your gift, after all, and you should take advantage of it. A better thing to is to be sensitive to what other people might think. While you might not mean anything by your statement in how easy something is, another person could take it completely the wrong way and have lower self-esteem or feel that you are boasting. If you offer to help him or her, then make sure that you do not act superior or constantly point out faults. Make your criticism constructive and be sure to praise them for everything they do right. Be modest about what you can do, but use what you have been given to your advantage since it is your gift.

No one is talented in all areas, but if you enjoy something and aren’t naturally gifted in that area, that’s no reason to keep from pursuing it. Don’t let other people’s abilities keep you down, but instead, focus on self-improvement and having fun in the activity. If you are beginning to get tired of an activity and want to quit, that’s fine, but don’t quit because you compared yourself to others.