Saturday, September 1, 2007

On identifying and developing one's personal gifts

I'm convinced that everyone has at least one "gift", in terms of a talent or skill that's both above the norm, and gives its "owner" pleasure to exercise.

It may be singing, painting, drawing, a musical instrument, motorcycle jumping, entertaining, writing, public speaking, computer architecture, marine architecture, sculpture, soldiering, cooking, hairdressing, biology, political leadership, healing, or just being excellent with animals or children.

I am also convinced that rather too many people are never encouraged and/or given a chance to try to identify what these gifts are, or to exercise them.

The older I get, the more I realize what a sad, even terrible, thing that is.

It's not that there's necessarily a professional niche for every person's gift, or that someone gifted in one area might not want to have a "day job" in another (unless they DO find their professional gift niche, of course), but the idea of a gift never being developed or used is really abhorrent to me.

I know a few people who I think have had this happen to them. In one case, the person was encouraged to become a doctor even though he didn't want to be one. He was OK at it, but hated the profession. I'm not sure what his other talents might have been, but when I compare that with people who aspire to be doctors in order to help people (some of whom I've known), it just about makes me weep thinking about it.

Someone else I know who never wanted anything else in her life than to become a homemaker, mother and loving wife, was pressured very hard to become a sparkly high-society trophy wife and Culture Vulture, and when she resisted that, was cruelly abused and then dumped. (She was a great, if somewhat sad, mother, by the way. I know her kids. Her ex, who is now lonely and bitter, really missed out.)

I know someone else who, from the best of personal intentions and with open eyes, went into a technical field. During uni, that person was in the informal choir for a few years. During the voice tryouts, the music dept. chairman quite gravely told the person they had a professional-quality voice, and they should continue developing it. The person, deciding there were already too many struggling musicians in the world, decided to stick with the "day job". He's been pretty good at it over the years, but his heart's not in it. He's actually thinking of trying to get into voice-over work now, as a sideline at least. Better late than never, I guess.

I am aware of some other examples. Never developing a gift is sad enough, but actually suppressing it is horrible. And it seems to twist people into some pretty nasty shapes sometimes.

Bring out the gifts, I say! Bring back parties with the participants singing and playing instruments, rather than listening to the dang CD player! Get the kids that are obsessed with drawing in school in front of an art teacher. Get the clownish ones in front of a drama teacher.

And for God's sake don't get into the wrong field if you can help it.

And if you do, for God's sake exersize dat gift on da side! Exclamation Cool

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