What’s Your Gift?

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and it’s life will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. My daughter is an excellent artist when it comes to drawing. She loves it and she’s naturally good at it. We noticed at a very young age when she started to write that her penmanship was immaculate and she desired to learn to write in cursive. If she’s not reading in her down time, she’s writing stories, or she’s got a pencil and a sketch pad in her hands and she’s drawing away. She takes these items with her wherever we go. At the grocery store, my 10 year old sits in the cart with her nose in a book, as I try to ask her what flavor yogurt she wants, and attempt to cram groceries into the cart around her body. When we get back in the car she’s writing, and then by the time we are home she’s back to her sketch pad.

Anna’s first experience with sports was Girls On The Run, and gym class, which also seemed to incorporate mainly running activities. It was at this same early age she decided she hated sports. She doesn’t, she hates distance running. Which I understand, because so do I. She was always last when they raced distances and that was a big reason she hated it. She was comparing herself to the kids she was running against, and although no one made fun of her, well, it’s not fun to always be last, and most people don’t like to do things they aren’t good at.

Earlier this year I took her to the Arnold Sports Festival in Ohio. She got to meet a lot of the bodybuilding pros. She watched a pro show. She saw Arnold speak and it got her excited about bodybuilding. Shortly thereafter she asked me to teach her about training and weight lifting and even began some of it on her own.

Over the summer Anna did a soccer camp, which she loved. She realized sports are different and not all running is the same. She is a sprinter (born of two sprinter parents) and she liked soccer because it was faster paced and exciting and she could sprint quickly to the ball and was good at that. She’s also voluntarily involved in intramurals, which teaches them a new sport every few weeks at school and they play twice a week before lunch. So what’s my point? Five points and they are as follows:

  1. Find what you love and do that. Anything that you find peace and pleasure doing is something you should hone because you never know where your passion may take you in life, even if it’s just to your happy place when everything else is stressful and sucks. Don’t be ashamed of your gifts. Anna draws, writes, or reads every day because she loves it. I know it’s making her a better speller, more focused, etc but for now, really it just makes her happy, and that’s enough.
  2. Appreciate what you are good at, but accept what you aren’t and be ok with it. Remember you aren’t going to be the best, or even good at everything. It’s ok, nobody expects you to be. It’s better to know these things about yourself than to be blindsided when somebody else tells you. My daughter is extremely mature. She know she’s not the best or the most at everything but she knows it doesn’t define her. She is excited when others are good at things even when she isn’t, and she knows the fact that Taylor did 60 push-ups in a row and Anna only did 8 is worth celebrating. Acknowledging what someone else can do well, does not ever take away from your worth.
  3. Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s difficult when you are working with or competing against others but it really is the thief of joy. You are you. If you can focus on improving something you want to be better at, or overcoming a personal challenge you will be miles ahead of most people. Someone will always be better, so if your focus is on being better than one person you could be surprised when the person better than her or you shows up to the race. The only competition you can control is your own.
  4. Challenge yourself to be better by trying new things, or a variety of things even if they seem similar. It would have been easiest for Anna to say,” I stink at running/sports, so I’m not doing any of it.” But she tried other sports and also learned there are two kinds of running. Even with her artwork, she paints (which is much more difficult for her) and does sculpture. She learning structured writing which “isn’t as fun” as creative writing, but is important to learn because it’s how we communicate effectively. She is constantly looking up new ideas or ways to draw on the Internet. She wants to get better at it, and she knows time, practice, patience, and increasing the difficulty is what will make her better.
  5. Know who you are. This is probably the most important thing to remember and one of the hardest things to accept. But, your worth doesn’t fluctuate based off someone’s ability to see it or not see it and it certainly isn’t defined by your talents or gifts. You are you and I am me and we all have something to offer. Find what you love and enjoy it. If you have a talent, share it. Being passionate is contagious and it encourages other to find their own passion.

I’m a firm believe in self-discovery and self-improvement. The two go hand in hand. One of the first steps to self-improvement is discovering your talents, because once you do, you can focus on excelling at that talent. Then you have a base to discover other things that you excel at and love, which can only lead to a longer list of a accomplishments on your life resume.  Your talent(s) may not become your life work, but they will at the very least, give you an outlet when you need an escape. But, you never know where they may lead. Every pro was once an amateur and every expert was once a beginner, so dream big and start now.