"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented people from the successful ones is a lot of bard work." - Stephen King
You decide to go out to Boston with your friend, a photographer. Together, you enjoy your outing, shopping, eating, and taking plenty of pictures. Later, you notice that your friend edits every single photo with editing software: she increases the contrast of the shot of the lamppost, she mirrors and crops the sidewalk picture, and she even whitens your teeth and brightens your eyes in a selfie you both took. She later posts these pictures online, and, after receiving a great amount of praise, thanks her “God-given talent”. You sit at your computer, slightly stunned that the ability to use Photoshop is now suddenly a coveted talent.
My point in the scenario above is to illustrate that some people just don’t have talent, and that some people need “crutches” to actually get things done. The problem comes when people act like they did not even use their crutches, and give off the illusion that they have been blessed with perfection in a specific area. Little to their knowledge, this wreaks havoc on the minds of those who do use their crutches, be it photo editing software or those gymnastics lessons you took when you were six. I have come to tell you, the reader, that this, the idea of true, pure talent, is entirely and utterly wrong.
I am smart enough to know that those reading this are about to criticize me and point out the holes in my argument that I have yet to fill. For example, I preach that talent doesn’t exist, yet I am a pretty sophisticated writer. How do you think I became such a good writer? Do you think I was born knowing what a thesis is, or what ersatz means, or how to write a five paragraph, MLA formatted essay? Of course not. I had a crutch myself. I read books. And now, sixteen years later, I can write the way I write, but only because I used the dictionary and autocorrect, and because I read Jane Eyre and Lolita. I gave myself talent. I learned.
Talent is not the magical blessing of God given to souls at random. It is the result attained after years of blood, sweat, and tears, years of honing and refining, of smoothing edges and perfecting imperfections. If you want to play the trumpet, you are going to have to learn what a trumpet is, and how it works. You will also probably have to learn how to read music and what tempo is and how to keep time in a symphony. You were not born knowing that, you developed it yourself. From now on, I implore you to use your crutches avidly, and to take pride in the fact that you went from knowing nothing, to at least knowing something. Love the fact that you can do anything, you can teach yourself anything. Personally, I think much more highly of someone who went to culinary school and learned to cook, as opposed to someone who popped out of the womb knowing how to cook an egg, they didn’t work nearly as hard. Your mind is a blank slate, waiting to be filled with skills and knowledge you pick up as you live your life. It’s a big, wide world out there. Go get em’.