Jealousy for talent, and how to deal with it

If you’ve ever thought you’ll never be as good as the most talented artist you know, this article is for you! It helps to feel inspired rather than intimidated by others’ talent.

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If you’ve ever thought you’ll never be as good as the most talented artist you know, this article is for you! It helps to feel inspired rather than intimidated by others’ talent.

The other day I came across a video from a recent America’s Got Talent casting, where Darci Lynn, an incredibly talented ventriloquist girl of 12, performed Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald. She stunned the audience with her beautiful, powerful voice and a very out-of-the-ordinary performance. If you’re curious to see her sing without opening her mouth for a second, check out the link at the end of the post. (No endorsement, sharing only)

The first surprise for me was, of course, how talented the girl was, and how she expressed her emotions so sincerely and freely while performing in front of a huge audience on national TV. She totally deserved that Golden Buzzer!

And the second surprise came after I’d rewatched the video a few times and looked through the comments. Most of them were kind words of encouragement and hope that the girl wins. But besides that, at least a dozen of viewers wrote something along the lines of “I couldn’t do this in a million years” or “And I’m sitting here, with no talent.”

Though these comments still acknowledge the fantastic talent the girl clearly has, they also (albeit jokingly) focus on the negative – how the people writing them, supposedly, can’t perform nearly as well. And truth be told, not many of us can, so they may well be right!

Moving on from that story to why I’m writing all this. It’s just that all these comments have reminded me of every time I make similar remarks in my head while reading an outstanding book. It’s difficult to acknowledge even to myself, let alone to all of you reading this, but sometimes when I enjoy the works of truly talented authors, like Ray Bradbury, I can’t help but compare myself to his standard of writing. Needless to say, my work always comes light years behind, and feeling a bit insecure from such an unfavourable comparison, I want to put away the book for a while.

I’ve never even talked with anyone about this, because I thought this was not at all a common, relatable problem. And I’ll understand if after reading the previous paragraph you think I’m nuts (comparing herself to a Pulitzer Prize winner, seriously?!?). But the comments showed that actually many people jump to comparisons when they see real talent. Think about it – if you’re a creative person, you love your craft and you want, with all your heart, to be great at it, haven’t you ever slipped into thoughts of how you may never be as good as *insert talented artist’s name here*?

If you have, you know how terribly demotivating these self-imposed guilt trips can be. It’s so easy for the mind to slip from that to “If I’ll never be as good as him/her, why bother?” And that’s exactly why we’re talking about this – so that hopefully you and I don’t stop creating because of this silliness.

It really is silly. What’s the point of comparing yourself to an incredibly talented young singer who has probably spent years studying in music school or practicing at home to achieve such amazing results or to one of the most gifted and wonderfully prolific writers? They may be light years ahead of you in your chosen craft, but they have worked hard to find their unique way of getting there. They’re on their own track, as you are on yours. Even if they are born with an innate talent for their art form, they have carved their own path to perfect it, little by little. They get to enjoy acknowledgment for their work because they have already put in a tremendous amount of effort into developing and creating.

I think, it’s way healthier to see accomplished artists as heroes and inspirations. They show us their own ways to grow and the results that can be achieved. They demonstrate by example that it’s more than possible to be appreciated for what you do, if you work hard enough for it. There’s no need to repeat their specific path of artistic growth – I believe, creativity is the highest expression of our own uniqueness, so it can’t be copied or developed by following someone else’s mould – but we can all learn from them.

So, when we catch ourselves thinking we’ll never be as good as someone, it’s better to switch the focus to what exactly can be learned from them, and how. For example, if you are an aspiring author and you like the narration skills of a particular mature, renowned writer, maybe it’s worth finding expert advice or taking lessons on telling an exciting story to a reader, and then practice, practice, practice. Or, if you’re a musician and you are drawn to artists who sing in front of a live audience, maybe you can offer your musical skills to a local bar and try performing yourself. You never know where this step, albeit a small one, may take you next!

Most importantly, this approach can prevent you from thinking you may be lacking skill or talent, and rather show you how much you have yet to learn in order to become better at your beloved craft and possibly reach your own heights.

As promised, here’s a link to Darci Lynn’s performance.

I want to finish on a quote from a different video with great advice to young people. Remember this next time you think you may not be talented enough:

What you have, no one else has. So, there will be a place for you. Don’t think that because someone got something, you’re not going to get something else. There is room for everybody.

Chelsea Handler

Enjoy your journey!

2 thoughts on “Jealousy for talent, and how to deal with it

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