Why Talent Might Not Matter

When I was growing up, I always thought I'd be a performer. I joined every singing group I could, participated in countless plays & musicals, even became a member of an all women's a cappella group in college. 

As the rise of audition based reality shows like American Idol and The Voice started to take shape, I was asked on countless occasions when I'd finally  make the trek to go and audition, myself. I imagined the song I'd sing, alternating routinely between Landslide and Someone Like You. I always figured I'd have better luck with a sad song, that way I could mask the awkward break in my voice around high C. It felt real. And, yet, it remained on my list of to-do's for years, untouched. 

I loved the thrill of it and, admittedly, the attention. I liked the idea of having an innate talent that others didn't. I liked the story behind "making it" as a performer far better than the reality of actually working toward it.

This isn't to imply that I'm some long lost talent or a plug to get you to visit the launch of my secret YouTube channel. Seriously, I promise. But, rather, a gentle reminder that talent often isn't the driving point behind our success in this world. 

I was gifted with an ability to carry a tune, yes, but at the end of the day it wasn't what I showed up for. I love singing, but I can live without it. As much as I love being on stage, I hate practicing. As much as I love the praise, there's nothing that intimidates me more than an unamused live audience. Enough, actually, to take me out of the game altogether.

If you told 11 year old me that I never made it to the Big Stage, surely she'd take it with a grain of salt. But now, looking back, it all makes sense. Because while I was jumping from one huge moment to another in my singing career, I was always writing. I was writing when no one was watching. I was writing before the praise and long after it. I was writing because I had to. I was writing because I wouldn't feel like myself without it.

Showing up wasn't a choice when it came to writing. It was in my blood. I don't know if I'm a talented writer. I'm sure some people enjoy my work while others find it too colloquial or difficult to relate to. 

And yet, this gift of writing and storytelling has never failed me. I may not be famous or have millions of readers from around the world, but writing has helped me land jobs I had no business applying for. Writing has offered me comfort when no person in the world could. Writing has connected me with brilliant minds and the most genuine of souls. 

I have always showed up for writing and, in return, it has always showed up for me. 

I guess, at the end of the day, that's all we can ask for: not a talent or a fleeting advantage but a light in our life, that when all else fails, forces us to show up anyway.

Amina TaylorComment