A few weeks ago (Aug. 19th, 2019), my brother asked me to help him with an English assignment. I explained this more in last weeks article, “A Word For the Young and Young of Heart,” so if you missed out, can’t hurt to go back, though it’s not really necessary. His teacher gave him four questions that he had to pose to two people and then write a response to each of their answers. I was overjoyed to help him out because, of course, I was. What he didn’t tell me was that the paper was supposed to be 2,000 words long- total… I sent him 4,000.
Last week we explored the first question he sent me, “What do you think my strengths and weaknesses are?” I shared the answer I gave to him and then shared a bit of encouragement that I wish someone had shared with me when I was a teenager. This week, we’re going to look at how to identify your talents and embrace them.
Question 2: How do you think I can use my talents in a meaningful way
This one is a very personal question. For my brother, I focused on his love and interest in computer programing, though my response still feels inadequate. Only we can know our real strengths. Only we know what talents and dreams whisper to us and call to us. I’ve been begging my brother to hang out with me so that I could explore this question with him in greater detail, but, naturally, he’s avoiding me at every turn (don’t forget, he’s sixteen. He’s allowed to get away with that and not hurt people’s feelings too bad). Since he’s decided to treat me like a violently contagious disease, I again focused on his love for gaming. It was vague, but I’m sure it’s still more than what 90% of the other kids got, so I feel good about it. Here’s what I said:
I think, if you follow this interest in gaming and programming that you can turn your gamer passion into a very profitable career. Computers are the future, and programming is the new global industry. Programmers aren’t just making video games, but security systems, mods, self-checkout registers, self-driving cars, Siri, Bixby, Alexa. You name it, and your future becomes endless. Follow your dreams, and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, you are going to leave your digital footprint all across the globe.
When I was in high school, my strengths were already readily apparent, I just hadn’t yet come to embrace them as the things that would define me in work as well as in my social circles. I was extraverted and therefore, always ready to engage in meaningful conversation. The stories of people’s lives have always fascinated and inspired me and my fiction. I have been utterly obsessed with storytelling since I learned to write, if not sooner, and wrote bits of fiction every time an excuse arose. I also had this deep-seated desire to paint pictures, even though I was shite with traditional media.
I wish someone could have swooped in back then and given it to me straight, “Look, girl. You’re great with people. Quit wondering about what mainstream profession you’re going to pick up, and embrace the fact that you were born a saleswoman. The wealthiest men alive are businessmen, not doctors, so stick that to your family when they start in on you for being aimless. Next, you’re a writer. You always have been, you always will be. Now go paint your pictures with words and put down the acrylic, okay? You’re embarrassing yourself, and most importantly, you’re embarrassing me, so just let it go, okay?”
Unfortunately, I didn’t have this magical spirit guide to point this all out to me, and my family was hardly better. I suppose I grew up with a sense that my passions were “sweet,” or “endearing,” or “a phase,” that I would grow out of before I stepped into my true calling of being a doctor or an engineer or an accountant. Something respectable like that. No one ever sat down with me and asked what it is at this very point in my life that I love pouring my energy into, what gets me fired up and what do I genuinely get excited about and engaged in. No one ever made me take a pause nor asked, “What would your life look like if you turned that fire into a profession?”
So, I’m going to ask you now. Stop what you’re doing (okay, finish this paragraph, then stop), close your eyes, and ask yourself these questions. What are the things in your life that set you on fire? Do you love hanging out with the guys or the girls and having drinks while swapping stories? Have you always longed to travel? Have you always burned at the thought of learning a new language? Do you love making things with your own hands? The list goes on, but you see where I’m going with this. Now, take those things, because I assume there isn’t just one, and visualize doing those things.
Focus on your emotions right now. Are you happy? Is your heart racing with excitement? Now, imagine someone who does what you were just envisioning for a living. What do they do? Are they a developer? Maybe that person was a therapist or a child’s counselor. Perhaps they were running an Etsy shop from their home, or giving motivational speeches in front of a crowd?
Can you see this person clearly? Are they using one of your passions, or juggling many? Now, I want you to suddenly realize that this person has been you all along. Focus on this feeling. Let it wash over you. Amazing right?
Now, I can go on for another 400 or more pages about how to achieve these goals and make roadmaps, but let’s save that for some other time. For now, bask in the glory of this visualization. You were always meant to be more than the person you are today. Never forget that the only limits to your success are the ones you choose to place or yourself.
For now, good luck, and never stop dreaming.
Next Week’s Question: How do you see me contributing to the world in the future.