I spontaneously made a painting, which shall be my first and only I decided after seeing the result. I obviously don’t have a talent for painting. Same goes for singing, if I can trust the look on people’s faces at karaoke night. No talent for ice skating either, judging from the colourful bruises spread along my legs. Clearly lacking an eye for fashion as well, based on the unsubtle critics from my friends. What talent do I actually have? Nothing comes to mind… What is talent anyway? It is something people are born with, like a gift from God? Did He simply forget me when He was handing them out? Or did I turn out to be talentless because I’ve been too lazy to ever practise anything? Athletes don’t just come running out of their mum’s vagina, they train for many hard years. And having a fine throat alone won’t make a good musician, they have to learn notes and instruments too. So which one is it? Is talent a gift from God or a result of hard labour?  

There is no denying that some people are better at math than others, and there is a reason that some kids always get picked last at sports games. It’s because some people are born with an enlarged inferior parietal lobule, which makes them good at math, and other people with extra muscle tissue, which makes them good at sports. And obviously, it helps to be pretty when you wanna be a model and it’s convenient to be tall when your aim in life is to become a professional basketball player. But being gifted with something doesn’t automatically make you talented though. Let’s be honest, out of all gifted kids being born, only few end up becoming exceptional adults. Why is that, exactly? 

When looking at my own personal life, and its complete lack of worthy achievements, I have a feeling it might have something to do with discipline… To elaborate, that my one and only painting turned out to be an offense to the eye wasn’t really the problem, the problem was that I thereafter decided to never paint again. I once wanted to learn to play guitar as well, but after two weeks my fingers started hurting so I stopped. And after three ice skating classes my calf muscles were stiffening up, so I terminated the course. I once bought a cooking book as well, and right after I opened it I lost interest. The only thing I ever really finished was my study, but only because my parents had to pay for that shit. It helped me find a job that I was somewhat good at, but my accomplishments are still insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and I can only admit that I’m a far-cry from what can be considered talented. 

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about real talents rather. The first person who comes to mind is Freddy Mercury. And then there is Mozart, Vincent van Gogh, Michael Jackson, Albert Einstein, name it. Though talented, there is no denying that most of them were somewhat odd, socially awkward if you will. Mozart had a severe personality disorder, Van Gogh cut his ear off, and Michael Jackson behaved as if he were still a little boy. Professional athletes also often end up having cognitive impairment, anxiety or depression. Being successful ain’t for sissies. I also can’t help noticing that most of them died quite young. There is a whole 27 club of talented people who died under miserable circumstances. Was it because of their talent, or could it be that it was the discipline that eventually wore them out? Being talented clearly takes a toll.  

I also noticed that when we think of talented people, we often think of men. All great minds in history appear to be men: Galileo, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Dickens, and so on. The reason that women never made it to the charges is because they were simply never given the chance to be talented. Throughout most of our history, women have been denied of education and weren’t even allowed to access libraries. The same goes for black people. And it’s safe to say that kids born in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or slums of Bangladesh don’t stand much chance of exploring their talents either. So the time and place in which someone is born is clearly of influence… Who knows how many talented people and influential intellectuals we missed out on just because the world wasn’t ready for them yet. 

The concept of talent confuses me even more now. There seems to be no such thing. Having talent is nothing but a favourable set of genes and fortunate settings at birth, which end up being useless in the lack of discipline. Some gifted people might even choose to be undisciplined because they simply have no desire to become an athlete, artist or scientist. In the end, whatever talent is only becomes relevant when someone actually gets successful at being good at something anyway. But that’ll take years of inexhaustible determination, if not a life-long dedication, commonly at the cost of that person’s own health. Being born with talent is bullocks, you gonna have to work for that shit. So when you achieved little, it’s for a reason. You might live a successful life, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you are talented.   

If this theory holds true, we should stop convincing our kids that they’re special and talented, because they most likely aren’t. Rather we tell our infants that we love them for being so average, and that being talented is a very dangerous thing. Like smoking, and drugs, and fatty food. When your kid is unfortunate to be born with a gift, it can simply be acknowledged but then best be ignored. Because once you become successful at being talented there is no turning back. It will wear you down. I’m thankful that my painting turned out to be a shame to all arts, because at least I still got both of my ears. And I’m grateful that my voice could crack a glass window, because at least I made it past the age of 27. And I’m happy that I could never get a ball to go in the direction I wanted, because at least I won’t be ending up with some kind of brain disorder. I’m gonna live a long, happy and utterly talentless life.