Talent: Wrongly Defined? | Teen Ink

Talent: Wrongly Defined?

August 13, 2008
By Brittany Hsu SILVER, Jericho, New York
Brittany Hsu SILVER, Jericho, New York
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I hate it when people ask me what is my talent and they expect me to say that I am a pianist, an athlete, or an artist. I may be two of those three things in my own right but my “talent” wouldn’t be any of them.

My definition of talent isn’t “the natural endowments of a person”, as defined by Merriam Webster. To me, talent is an innate or learned desire, NOT necessarily an endowment to pursue something. In other words, talent can be simply a passion. Then, you might say, I have passion for the theater, softball, flute, and science. But I have not received honors in any of these areas. Does that then mean that I have no “talent” in these areas? Success is measured in the candidate, not him as compared to his society. But in an increasingly pressured society to stand out amongst the others, there is no room for multifaceted people to express their versatility. You can only be “exceptional” at one thing or a prodigy in many.
Unfortunately too many students seem to fall victim to this misconception. Nothing breaks my heart more than hearing “Well, I’m not good at art, I guess I’ll focus on science.” Yes, this person, lets call her Mary, is a biology connoisseur. She was a finalist of the National Science Bowl, Intel Engineering Fair, and received various other scientific honors. But, these achievements cannot possibly define who Mary is. People may not know it, but she is also an amateur photographer. She has received no honors or acclamations in this area. In fact, her art teacher has even told her that her “chef d’oeuvre” was only a mediocre piece of work, possibly erected by anyone with a brush and paper. Okay, I am not saying that Mary should give up science to pursue her passion for photography if she has no raw aptitude for it. But, why should she only be a scientist? Why not let her be Mary, the capable scientist and photographer?
These conflicts seem not to have only arisen with the average teenager but also with the disabled as well. Those with physical or mental disabilities such as cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis may take longer to master something. However, this shouldn’t exempt them from having a “legitimate” talent, as defined by society. Their level of achievement may be their personal best, but might not even make a dent compared to the personal best of others.
Through my time with the bowling team, I have befriended people like William and Max who have some form of a mental disability. Since the girls and boys bowling team practice and play together I have often observed their attitudes and passionate zeal towards bowling. Nevertheless, it seems like coaches tend to value their “star” Varsity bowlers whom have little heart for the game, but a plethora of skill. To them, getting a score of 260 in a game is one step closer to getting that free ride to Yale or some other acclaimed university or institution. But to boys like William, getting a 160 as a product of many years of practice means the entire world to them. And yet, all William would get is a contrived and insincere pat on the back for a “decent” score on the practice lane.
I want to make it clear that I am not discouraging the coaches or varsity bowlers for their well earned achievements. Naturally, I am sure most of them sincerely love the sport and deserve all the praise in the world. But what about the passionate boys on the practice team whose best efforts are not considered a “talent”?
Now, you probably want to know what my talent is. I am an aspiring softball player, flautist, actress, and scientist. But my “talents” in which I have received honors in would be only in the fields of writing and linguistics. I do not want to be judged based on my awards and honors. Awards are only a sign of encouragement. But don’t get me wrong, everyone needs a boost of ego once in a while. But the bottom line is: I am not me because of the awards I receive. I am me based on what my heart tells me I have achieved.
Therefore, it is an in justice to disregard my other passions in which I have exercised my full potential in. It is also wrong to assume that I want to be a writer just because I am naturally “stronger” in writing. I love writing, but it is only one of the few things that makes me, me. It is one of the deepest passions and I am not afraid to admit it. However, I am unwilling to compromise everything I love for just one thing. So I think I’ll be a softball player, linguist, writer, and scientist.

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This article has 2 comments.

on May. 30 2010 at 1:25 pm
silver_moonlit10 PLATINUM, Ashburn, Virginia
45 articles 0 photos 36 comments
Very nicely done.  I can see why you are awarded for your writing.  And I know what you mean.  I am not awarded for my writing, i'm not quite as good at it as i am at other thing.  Fortunately for me, that's one of the few things that I like that I'm not good at.  And people don't have to give up the thing they like.  It just hurts when they don't recieve compliments or accolades when doing one thing they like even when they put the same amount of work into another thing.  It hurts when they don't get the same level of results.

on Jan. 17 2009 at 2:57 am
I tottally agree with you. At my school I'm considered the walking dictionary. But not very many people at school know that I am a clarinet player, an aspiring author, or that I do drama. So I can definitely connect to you