Multi-Talented Nonsense

I just think that being considered “multi-talented” is, in itself, a load of something bad.

Earlier today, while I was having a chat with my schoolteachers (I do tend to foster a good relationship with my teachers, which shouldn’t be crazy at all because it makes them more approachable), one teacher suddenly sparked the subject of talented students in our school.  After discussing several “case studies” (I think it’s something adults call “gossip”), the same teacher stated that “there should be more multi-talented students like [me],” to which the others nodded in agreement.

I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be a compliment or an observation.  What I was sure of, though, was that this term “multi-talented” started to bother me a little bit.

When I asked for clarification, the teachers threw out a list of “major accomplishments that have yet been attained by the students of the school,” such as being a female and Asian breakdancer (something I’m not particularly good at yet), a “musically gifted” vocal singer for both a cappella and rock band (something Mom, a musician, usually thinks I’m not completely capable of), a “natural student leader and public speaker” (or “chatterbox”), good student (but not one who gets straight-As), among others.  In my head, I was thinking, “Damn, that is an awful lot…” but as I thought on a deeper level, I came to realise that I’m being called “multi-talented” for things that anyone could do if they gave it their best shot.

Let’s address the point of being a “good student” first, because that’s something many people probably obsess over.  Anyone, and I mean anyone, is capable of getting good grades if they get their mind to it.  When I was in primary school, my grades were never fantastic — in fact, they were all in Cs and Bs.  I consistently failed Math and Science through primary school, and teachers often saw me as a “hopeless student.”  But I guess that when I told myself that I wanted to prove something to not only the adults, but also myself, I started doing more revision for Math and by eighth grade, I got my grade up from a C to an A in Math.  Since then, many teachers withdrew their thoughts of me being “hopeless,” and silently realised my potential.  This was the case for many of my other classmates too when they were preparing for their GCSEs: many managed to improve their scores from Ds and Cs to As and A*s, which is an impressive feat.

And now this other point about being “musically gifted” — I doubt that one is born with perfect pitch…unless you’re some sort of music prodigy.  Indeed, I believe that there is a line between “musically gifted” and “music prodigy” because I was not born with the innate ability to play multiple instruments and compose my own pieces.  Sure, I do have some musicality, but I don’t think it’s necessarily talent; instead, I think it’s something that was influenced by my mother.  She’s a musician (and by musician, I mean that she has a PhD in Music.  She’s awesome) and I cannot picture a day when she’s not listening to classical music or playing her piano, getting ready for some upcoming recital.  She taught me music before and we both decided to give up due to the unnecessary pressure of the expectations influenced by her being a musician, and my being a musician’s daughter.  I think if anyone were to be musically gifted or talented, I’d point at my classmates Justin and Charles, who are both avid members of the music community.  The former can play almost all the string instruments, the piano, and is now learning to conduct an orchestra; the other is a pianist and is now composing his own pieces.  Sure, like the previous example, all this really takes time and practice, but one’s talent can only shine through if you let it.

One’s talent can only shine through…if you let it…I guess that’s it.  Maybe I am multi-talented, but that’s probably not the most appropriate way to say it.

Growing up in Hong Kong (which is, as you may now notice, a driving force of my psychology), many people tend to restrain themselves from “going too far” — they don’t want others to know about what they’re capable of because of pressures of being labelled a “show off” or “seeking undeserved attention.”  I used to be afraid of expressing myself for that very reason, but I soon realised that it’s not like me to do that.  There are so many areas in which one’s talent can truly be taken advantage of, so why waste it?  Everybody has multiple talents in side of them; they just need to step out of their shadow of introversion and let it go.

Because at the end of the day, it’s not about talent; it’s about expression.

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3 thoughts on “Multi-Talented Nonsense

  1. “I came to realise that I’m being called ‘multi-talented’ for things that anyone could do if they gave it their best shot.” As you pointed out, anyone can be good at anything if they give it their best shot. Being well-rounded, on the other hand, is a lot more difficult than you give yourself credit for. I have absolutely no talents outside of chemistry. None whatsoever. Even if I gave it my best shot, I doubt that I’d be anywhere near as well-rounded as you are. Don’t sell yourself short.

    1. I think it’s a matter of whether or not you recognise your multiple talents. I doubt that people are in denial of what they’re capable of; instead, they don’t totally realise that they have a particular hidden ability. Thus, they can never exercise their full potential in that field. For instance, you mention that you have “absolutely no talents outside of chemistry,” but I think many people would disagree: I think that you can be well-rounded too, such as your ability to debate, your knowledge of horse-riding, your singing and even writing skills…just a few that I have observed.

  2. As a long-term Instructor of the “arts,” I have come to realize that “talent” means something altogether different than the common definition.

    Talents are survival skills. Some need only a few. Some need several.

    Some feel that they are given to those who need them – for their future, and for their present.

    I have many “talents.”

    And, I have needed every single one of them…

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