parallax23: (Default)
Growing up in NYC, a favorite joke among the teachers was that a tourist walks up to someone and asks, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" and the person replies, "Practice, practice, practice."

I've been noticing lately from random comments that the idea of 'effortless talent' is becoming absurdly common. If I'm good at something that other people admire, they'll say that it's something that just comes naturally to me and it would be too difficult for them to emulate. While I do sometimes forget that I've got a bit of an edge over most people - I can admit to being a slacker savant - much of the time I practice to improve myself.

When I was in high school, I hardly paid attention in class, skipped SAT prep, and I did my homework for 3rd period in 2nd period (if I bothered to do it at all), evenutally rounding out as an A minus student and getting into a great school with scholarships. Another friend tried to emulate me, but I pointed out that I got away with it because I had As on the assignments I did turn in, but she was getting Cs. If those were my grades, I wouldn't play so fast and loose with assignments - that was how I managed to survive physics and math, which weren't my favorite subjects.

As another friend would later point out, I also have another inate talent, which is to know what my weaknesses are and being willing to address them. I don't consider this a talent, but just a part of how I was raised - my parents lived through a lot of hardships in life, and they never gave up trying to achieve what they thought they deserved. Nothing was handed to us, and sometimes I feel like an impostor because of my family's humble beginnings.

I don't just wake up good at everything. My parents and my brother spend their entire lives as underdogs, and they feel validated by proving that they're skilled after being overlooked. I somehow ended up with the opposite problem (okay, the real answer is that I won the genetic lottery to have my dad's ability to learn things and my mom's tenacity) - nothing I accomplish matters because it's expected that I just happen to be good everything, whether I had to work for it or not.

Just because something doesn't come easily doesn't mean you should just write it off. Sometimes it just requires a few practices and a YouTube tutorial to accomplish. I had no idea I liked financial analysis and that I was good at it until I tried it. Sometimes I never master what I set out to do, but it doesn't stop me from trying it. Like I know I'll never be an artist or amazing multi-linguist, but I like to experiment, and I find a new appreciation of other people's talents.

Some people don't even bother to try, and they never know if they could have been good at something if all they did was practice.