I frequently receive emails complimenting me on how talented I am and how they (the writer) wishes they had the ability to draw and paint. I get happy when I hear the compliment but extremely sad when I read the expression of mistrust in their creative journey.
I must confess to being a bit of an agnostic when it comes to a belief in talent. Talent is a product-orientated word. It has no depth to the human experience inherent in the creative act. The term is so charged that whether people believe they have it or not, the label traps everyone in a cage of expectations. Those expectations (“I can’t do anything” or “I must do something”) alienate people from the spontaneous joy of the process.
While I agree that certain individuals possess the right body for gymnastics, can instinctively identify middle C, or have the natural ability to create a likeness with a paintbrush, I believe that these predispositions are only a starting point. It is too easy to think of talent as some kind of divine dowry bestowed on certain people that makes them better than everyone else.
If talent is to be a factor in the success of any person, it must be combined with discipline, tenacity, relentless dedication, and the ability to sacrifice the ego for the sake of the process. I have known many people who use talent as an excuse for not trying. If you are either hiding behind the “T” word or using it as a shield, it’s time to assess this issue in a realistic way so that you can have some fun and stand up with dignity for your own creative potential. Honor your desire and the right to devote whatever time you need to your self-expression.
I leave you with a few reflective questions to better help you assess your belief and assumptions about your own creative potential while developing an understanding of your personal evolution. It’s my hope that you may have gained new important insights through the creative process. Feel free to write these questions and answers in your sketchbook, journal, or I welcome you to express your thoughts in the comments section below.
- Do I live with a personal myth about my talent? If so, what is it and where did it come from?
- Am I living with someone else’s expectations? What kind of effect is this having on me?
- Of my personal acquaintances and family members, whom do I consider to be talented? Why do I think this of them? What is their talent? Do I know the story of their development, or do I assume that they’ve had none? (I suggest that you talk with these people about their talent.)
- What talents do I possess? What do other people consider to be my talents? (Don’t be afraid to ask.)