They say talent is a responsibility. I've had several of my friends applaud me for my determination to my craft. Just the other day, one of them Facebook messaged me out of the blue to tell me when she thought about creative people, I was at the top of her list. But instead of a warm glow of pride bursting through my chest, I couldn’t help but feel like a phony.
I feel like I never actually put enough time and effort into “being creative,” whatever the hell that means. When most people think of creative people, they envision slightly disheveled writers scratching away at a notepad while sipping hipster coffee. There’s a sense that they’re always frustrated, always searching, always groping for the next line. There’s a sense that they’re dedicating all their time to this never ending pursuit. And quite frankly, I’ve never done that.
Sometimes I blame the fact that I have "other serious responsibilities" like a 9 to 5 job. Sometimes I blame the fact that I’ve always struggled with the whole “Your talent should be shared” thing and that to hide it would be a sin. For a long time I never permitted myself to think of my writing as anything more than a passion project, mostly because I always felt like what I did wasn't good enough, but also because there were simply writings, drawings, things that I wanted to just keep to myself.
After a while though the unsatisfied itch always came back and my 9 to 5 job ceased to feel fulfilling. It wasn’t until it shoved its big, persistent face in front of my windshield that I realized, this whole time, my goals have been about getting into a good college or getting a job that would sponsor me, and that I’ve been using my writing as a tool to help me bullshit my way through essays or cover letters. My talent has always been an afterthought, a tool, in my periphery and it was now telling me “That’s not enough.”
So after griping about how I don’t feel “successful” for the 75th time to my boyfriend, I realized, I’ll never feel successful unless I make my talent my 9 to 5 job. Despite my many fears of inadequacy and the haunting uncertainty, I was beginning to understand that at some point I’m going to have to invest in my talent 100%, go all in, put all my eggs in one basket, stop these asinine maxims, and just try. Instead of using my writing as a tool to do other things as I have all my life, I need to turn around and say, “Hey talent, what do you need from me? Do you need me to go back to school or read five books a day so you’ll be better?” Because if I don’t believe that my talent is worthy of it, how can I expect other people to believe it?
Of course, after this brief moment of enlightenment came an onslaught of worries and self-doubt and fear. Ask any brave soul who’s chosen a career in a creative field and they’ll tell you they’re no stranger to that feeling. But I guess there’s a naivety in anyone who dares to be great, a foolhardiness involved because it means putting all your proverbial eggs in one basket even when it’s ill advised. The euphemism for it is "being committed" and it sounds so good and all, but it really is more like recklessness, ignoring all the things that could go wrong. Sometimes I think of my mother, and how there’s almost an ignorance to the consequences of some of her bold actions that I know for a fact is also the very impetus for her success. It's kind of like entering into a relationship with someone when all your friends and family disapprove of him/her and only you know and love them and believe (or rather, hope desperately) it could work out. And the only way forward is to prove them wrong. In this case, those disapproving figures are the voices and adages that say you're too young, too inexperienced, too poor, too whatever, and you just have to revert back to your naive 8-year-old self, plug your ears and go “blah blah blah.”
I’ve been taking my talent for granted and so far, it's been good to me. But like every relationship, it takes two, so it's time to invest back into it, give back to it, believe in it, believe that it can take me places if i just set it free.