“K, there are students who are naturally talented at this. But unfortunately, you are not one of them!”
As I listened to him, tears began to well up in my eyes; I was determined not to let them spill. I was quiet as I stretched my hands to him to take my artwork back. As I returned to my desk, the statement echoed in my mind, I am not talented. I don’t know where I found the courage, but suddenly I stopped, turned, and spoke, “You may not think I am talented, but I will complete this course.”
My teacher looked at me with surprise and admiration before finally smiling. He nodded and said, “There is no limit to what you can achieve if you dare to keep going.” Those words about my lack of talent and about persisting stayed with me.
With hard work and determination, I found that I could create functional—though not beautiful—artwork. It was precisely the capability that my employer had been searching for. So, I started work as an artist for an urban organization.
When I began my position at the company, I was competent at creating art for clients, but my ability to communicate with them was even more impressive. I realized that my special gift was understanding customers’ wishes. I could express those needs in a way that enabled artists to precisely deliver great work to the clients.
“K, you have a way with our clients that is so powerful,” my boss said one day. “You make them feel at ease and tease ideas out of them that allow us to create amazing work for them. I want to take you off the design team and move you to client strategy and program development.” I couldn’t believe it. My teacher was wrong—I was talented, after all!
Interestingly enough, I had fun working with clients and found it delightful to be part of creating unique pieces for them, even if I was not the artist producing the final product. That realization inspired me to help others find their talents and never give up on themselves. So, when I participate in mentorship programs with college sophomores, I carry that message to them.
I believe every person has gifts and abilities that are unique. We should be fearless and take chances on ourselves because it will be worth it in the end. We never know what opportunities could arise if we believe in ourselves and never give up! I needed to hear the teacher’s message. He was right. Other students created much better, highly inspired works. Though challenging, his message was a blessing because it opened me to what else I could do and what else I could be.
I had to let go of what I had envisioned for myself. My teacher’s comment that day made me keep looking for something new even as I worked as an okay artist. It was a powerful reminder that sometimes things that hurt could be the best for us.
So, if someone tells you, “You are not talented,” take it as an opportunity to find out what you’re good at and use it to your advantage. You never know where this journey of self-discovery could lead you. With commitment, hard work, and a little faith in yourself, the sky is the limit! So don’t give up—keep going! It’s just a matter of believing in yourself and taking steps to make it happen.
Years later, while leafing through a magazine for creators and artists, I stumbled upon an article featuring one of my former classmates. Her work continues to be simply fresh, vibrant, and unique. I could see and appreciate that we are talented in many different ways.
Reflecting on that moment in my classroom, I realize how much it taught me. My teacher’s words motivated me to dig deep and discover something else I could do—something that contributed to society while also providing me immense satisfaction.
I am living proof that you should never give up on yourself. On the contrary, each step and misstep bring us closer to what is suitable for us. We all have something unique to offer the world, and it’s just a matter of believing in ourselves and continuing to take steps toward our destiny.Leave a Comment