20 May 2008

What Are You Good At?

I'm not good at anything. Or to put it another way, I never learned anything that I can use as a marketable skill or for enjoyment. My husband plays bass guitar. He's good at it. He's in a band for enjoyment and at our church. I'm sure if he tried hard enough he could find a paying gig. May not pay much, but it is a skill he enjoys and could use to make money if he chose. My brother plays drums, same thing. My sister went to college, so she has an actual degree that helps her to be marketable. My mom could cook. She was a really good cook. While she never made money off of it, she certainly could have. I'm not good at anything.
I dabbled in quite a few things when I was young. My mom started my sister and I in dance, because every little girl takes dance. I enjoyed it when I was small, but as I got older I realized that while I could enjoy it all I wanted, I really wasn't very good at it. Art was the same way for me. I loved art. It wasn't until I was a Freshman in high school, after I had taken a double period art class, that the teacher told me that maybe I would want to explore hands off careers in art if I was determined to stay in the art world. Be a critic, run a gallery, etc. She tried to gently tell me that I wasn't any good. No matter how much I enjoyed it, I could never do it for a living. Same thing happened with piano and flute. I took piano lessons for years. It was always a struggle. I didn't enjoy it as much as the other things, so my parents finally let me quit when I was 13. Flute only lasted a year.
In high school I was also interested in drama and choir. I can sing and carry a tune, but my voice isn't exceptional. I don't know enough music to teach voice, and no one is going to pay me to sing. I enjoyed acting in plays and musicals, but was always a bit self conscious being on stage, so it didn't come naturally to me. My parents weren't exactly supportive in any of my endeavors. They were willing to sign me up and let me attend a class, but they never showed any desire to understand what I was doing or had an interest. I wonder if that affected any of my outcomes?
So how does one find their natural talent? Does everyone have one? Some things seem to come so easily to some people, and then there are people like me, who really like to do some things, but struggle through every step.
I'd like to help my children figure out what their natural "bents" seem to be. So far they have both danced (seems to be the obligatory thing a mother does to her children : ) My youngest took to dance better than her sister. She started in ballet then moved onto Irish Dance. By the end of her second year of Irish dance, she realized that while she enjoyed it, it was a struggle for her. I had to let her take a private lesson each month just so she could keep up with her class. It took her longer to get it, and it just didn't flow naturally from her. So she decided to quit. My oldest took one year of ballet at three, dropped out of a tap class at four, and then decided at eleven that she wanted to try hip-hop. She liked it and was fairly good at it, but it didn't hold her interest enough to want to do it again. My girls also rode horses for about two years when they were seven and nine. I thought they both did really well. They seemed to enjoy it, and were quick learners. But after two years they decided they were bored with it. My youngest has mentioned maybe wanting to try again. Maybe horses are her thing.
My oldest has recently decided she wants to try Martial arts. Kyuki-do to be exact. It's more of a mixed martial art, combines many different disciplines. I think it will be good for her. It requires discipline and focus, it will be an outlet for exercise, and she will learn self-defense. Especially as they get older, I worry more and more about my children's safety. I'd feel better knowing that if they had to, they had the tools to defend themselves. I think this is something my daughter will excel at. She really wants to learn it. Her desire is strong.
By allowing my children to try a variety of things, I am hoping they will find their niche. That thing that inspires them, that thing they can become passionate about. I think eventually everyone, if given the chance, can find that thing they are good at. And I think it is my job as a parent to help my children find that. I know many people who's children have become proficient at something they love, and that could support them in the future. One girl has been ice skating for years. She does well and enjoys it. If she chooses, she can teach it when she's older. Another girl rides horses. She could own a barn and give lessons. Musicians could earn money performing or giving lessons. (I know homeschool teens who earn money giving piano lessons.) Cooking, baking, sewing, dancing, martial arts, swimming, etc. etc. If given the chance and a child finds any of these to be their passion, not only could they end up having a life long hobby that gives them an outlet both physical and emotional, they could possibly use that passion to teach that skill to others. Making a living doing something they love.
I am still searching for that thing I do best. Maybe it is mothering. I want to give the best to my children. I want them to have every opportunity I didn't have. I want them to have all the support I didn't have. I want them to feel that they are good at something, to have a skill or skills that set them apart from some of the rest, that they have things in their life that bring them joy. I realize for my children to have opportunities, I need to sacrifice. I need to sacrifice my time and my money to give things to my children. Isn't that what parenthood really is about? Putting our children's needs and wants before our own? I only have so many years to give to my children. My oldest is 13 and my youngest is 11. Time is flying by. I hope when they are older, and they look back on their growing up years, that they see that they came from a family that tried to give them every opportunity to become well rounded adults. I hope they feel the love that was in everything I did. I hope they don't wake up one day and have to wonder "What am I good at?" But if they do, I hope they have a marvelous answer.


Valerie said...

Hi Donna. I'm older than you are and I'm still not sure what I'm good at, with the possible exception of letter writing...If you can catagorize that as a skill. I guess if someone needed a personal blogger I could have a career at that. All my daughters took ballet. The older two for 7 years each, the younger two for just 3 years. I never thought of it as something that might carry them through life. It was just a good thing to do at the time. And I'm glad we did it. The older ones especially have great poise. And none of them have hang-ups about performing. I credit that in part to their dance experience. AND we have all these great recital costumes for dress-up. My eldest also took just one year of tae kwon do. I wish she had continued. In fact you have inspired me to offer that or something similar to the kids because, like you, I think it is a very important thing for a girl/woman to know. I'm feeling a bit lax that I haven't pursued it for them. So thanks for the push. I guess you're good at inspiring others, Donna. --Valerie

Colleen said...

You sound like me. I did dance, piano lessons, baton twirling, took art and guitar in school. I loved doing those things but I was always just so-so. Even singing.I've sang in church choirs and I love to sing, but I'm not exceptional. I do love to write and figure that is about as close as coming to a "talent" that I have. LOL. Being a mom is a good talent to have and worth it.