To have a talent means that we have a greater aptitude for a certain topic/s, which comes from us having a passion or interest in that area. Every one of us is talented in an area we feel passionate about. Many people like to think of talents as only occurring in people with exceptional abilities. Yet this is in no way true. All of us possess a certain “spark” or two, and these don’t always have to be to a level where they’re considered extraordinary (extraordinary merely meaning to have never been documented before). It’s natural for us to have a stronger level of skill in areas of interest, in comparison to topics that don’t interest us as much. Thus a talent never has to be previously undocumented. The true definition of a talent is having a personal strength that outstrips our own weaker abilities elsewhere.
Prior to a child beginning school it’s far more typical to see on the surface what their passion is, and therefore where their spark lies. However once they begin school it often becomes hidden (passions never truly disappear) beneath so many other things.
A major problem with most schools of the present day is that children and teenagers are encouraged to have strengths (that are more or less equal) in all areas. Countless times I was told in high school “always aim for an A grade” regardless of whether I enjoyed the topic or struggled with it. Traditionally a C was a pass, but whenever I was given that mark at school I was almost always told “try harder, you can do better than that”. Also grades were often competitively shared amongst fellow classmates, and that is both damaging to our self esteem as well as being the ideal way to lose sight of the strengths we naturally have.
The most important thing that we need to do in order to rediscover, strengthen and embrace our areas of talent is to never do a task with the goal of impressing others or gaining their approval. It will never work effectively no matter how hard we try. If there is no personal interest (on a deep emotional level) in the topic, we will not have the motivation and patience to perform the task as well as we’re pressured to.
No other person apart from ourselves can give us an emotional interest in a certain topic. It’s true that we can be guided and inspired by other people. However we must already have a subconscious interest in that area. Despite us not necessarily being able to pinpoint those exact tasks of which we’ll perform strongly with, we would always have had an emotional interest in tasks/hobbies that are similar and/or related.
With everything I said about school earlier in the piece I will also stress the importance of education in our lives. There are many positive aspects of school that we must keep onto throughout our lifetime. It is very important that each and every child can be guided to become the best person that they themselves can possibly be. Also, praise for an excellent performance by a student must never come from the generic grade they’re given.
Now it’s time for me to share my own experiences in relation to everything written above. Prior to starting school I loved to read encyclopaedias and educational books about all of the world’s countries. At the age of five I had learned all of the world’s capital cities and that impressed many people. Though until I began my school years I didn’t read all of those books to impress others. It was purely for my own fascination with parts of the world that are different from my own (by culture, spoken language, climate, food and everything about life in general).
Throughout my school years I lost touch with all of that. From a mixture of trying to impress teachers with the grades we were expected to achieve, as well as competitive peer pressure, I was distracted from my true areas of interest by hopelessly attempting to be ‘good at everything’. I also found that completing a task merely to impress/satisfy somebody else was no where near as fulfilling as completing a task to impress myself instead. In fact my school years ended by me having a complete nervous breakdown, which only made me fail every subject anyway.
Once I had left school I was initially in no fit state to get given a job or enrol in tertiary education. Yet instead I spent a few years continuing school in my own way. This I did by giving myself lessons that both continued all of the positive methods of learning I gained from school, as well as making sure that these lessons were personalised to my own interests. Constantly I would remind myself to create work to impress and satisfy myself and not other people.
After a few more years I’ve once again become interested in all the things I was prior to starting school. Everything that I do is also for my own personal enjoyment, even if it is technically work for my job at times. Countries of the world are a strong interest that I seemingly lost sight of beforehand. I love to watch travel documentaries, videos and written material from around the world, building places in Minecraft, and learning languages other than English has become a fun hobby (that can also be used for my work).
Now I’ve entered my third decade of life, and 80% the work I do consists of my interest areas (for the remaining 20% I have to try a bit harder to get things done, but the percentage is minimal enough for me to accept the extra work). My career involves speaking, writing and running a self-discovery network for people on the autism spectrum.
The network I founded is called Embrace Your Passion, and sessions with members involve exactly that of which was talked about in this blog. For further reading on Embrace Your Passion, or anything else I do, please feel free to look over my previous written work published on this site.
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