After taking a semester of one-on-one guitar lessons many years ago, my instructor decided to be brutally honest with me. He said, “Barb, some of us have it, and some of us don’t. And you don’t.”
When I tell that story, a lot of people are outraged at that teacher, but actually I appreciated his comment. Deep down, I knew it was true. I am no guitar player. I would much rather that someone tell me the truth, rather than waste my time and my money and fill me with false hope.
The brutal reality is that we can’t all be good at everything we try to do. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want me to sing, either. Or weld. Or skateboard.
We live in a society that tries to tell us that we can do anything that we set our minds to, but that’s unrealistic. Yes, some things we can all learn. Facts and figures. Those things just take effort. But others, the things that take a certain level of talent or skill, you will either do well or you won’t. Eventually you’ll figure out where you stand. It may take time. Some things take years to learn. By all means give things a try if they are important to you.
But there’s usually a point, and deep down you know it, when it’s time to focus elsewhere if you haven’t risen to a level that you are content with in a given field. You don’t have to be the best, by the way. But you do have to be satisfied with your level of proficiency.
I’m perfectly okay with the fact that I can’t play the guitar. I mean, it would have been cool to be able to do so, but I am quite good at other things. I would like to think that writing is one of them.
If we were all uniformly good at everything, this would be a monochrome world. There would be no challenges. There would be no reason to go to concerts or art galleries or sporting events. Nothing would be special or outstanding or amazing.
I like being in awe of people. And I like being proud of myself. I like knowing that there are things I do better than others, but for that to work for everyone then there has to be, purely from a mathematical standpoint, things that I do worse than others. If that means I won’t be playing Greensleeves on a Gibson any time soon, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.