Sunday, December 4, 2011
I woke up feeling crappy again today. I think being sick and then going to bed at 3 am played a part in that. I couldn’t leave a going away party for myself early though. I had lunch with my extended extended family, meaning I had lunch with my grandma’s cousin and her daughter and her husband. Leila, my great cousin (?) gave me a Christmas tree ornament with LA sights on it. It was perfect. You need little mementos from your experiences.
This afternoon I got medicined up and did my Level 3 improv showcase show at UCB. This was the point that I negotiated with Michelle way back when, when she said it was time to come home. We said I could finish this improv class. For the showcase we split the class on two teams, and lucky for me, there was an odd number, so I got to perform on both teams. All time quarterback. The show went great. I did great. It felt really nice to be going home with a confidence boost. From Level 2 to midway through Level 3, about 6 months, I was convinced that I had no idea how to do improv anymore, and maybe never did. Then, something clicked and it became fun and doable again. We did a show in the form of a Harold, the classic long form style. We had done a ton of them in class and a ton of them were not good. Yet, somehow, we pulled it together and did great stuff.
LA has so many talented people, it’s crazy. Little shows that I’ve been a part of in little theaters, with little attendance, have enough talent for big places with big audiences.
Let’s talk about talent.
I’m 33, I know the ways in which I’m talented, and the ways that I’m not at this point. I’m a horrible singer, I can only dance well in my own head, I have a hard time remembering to do adult things in a day. I’m good at comedy, I’m good at writing and improv. I’ve often felt torn about those being some of my talents. I’ve often wished, in the grass is always greener sense, that my talents were more practical, toward things that rewarded you with money and health insurance. On the other hand, I have talents for which people are often recognized. Like many in LA, those talents all involve an audience, and if you do well, the audience tells you en masse and individually, “Wow, you are so talented.” It’s great to get that feedback. Ultimately, I can’t picture myself being talented in numbers and working a 9-5 for forty years as a CPA or something. I’m happy with what I have, and, I’m happy that I’m talented in generally recognized areas.
Here’s my theory. I think that we’re all fairly equally talented, but people that are talented in one or two things, and are talented in recognized areas are seen as the talented ones, while people that are talented in a wide variety of ways, and in unrecognized areas often wrongly feel that they aren’t talented. Does that make sense?
Then, it can snowball, because if you’re talented in agreed upon ways, you get a lot of encouragement and pursue those things hard, however, if you’re talented in unrecognized ways, you don’t get same encouragement, and don’t pursue the same cultivation.
I’m good at comedy (arguable). After a stand up show, people will tell me, “You’re really talented.” Great, I like that.
I have a friend, Robbie, who I knew when he was in high school, when he didn’t feel special or talented in the least. Robbie is really good at listening, making people feel comfortable, caring about his family, being encouraging, and is a pretty funny guy.
In most people’s eyes I look talented, but Robbie does not.
I think that’s wrong.
Robbie is talented in way more ways than I am.
I know the feeling of wishing I was more talented. In college, my good friend, JJ, was also funny, but he was funny and could sing. I felt like I paled in comparison. I think people are hurt by these comparisons. I think that it’s time we broadened our idea of what a talented person looks like, because we beat ourselves up thinking that we’re not talented, when in fact we are. This is my encouragement, if you’re talented differently, it doesn’t mean that you’re less talented.
Old Talent List:
Sports, singing, acting, comedy, speaking to large groups, playing a musical instrument, performing surgery, writing, editing. The end.
New Talent List:
all of the above, listening, encouraging, punctuality, cleanliness, niceness, reading, cooking, multi-tasking, driving, integrating ideas, creativity, thoughtfulness, compassion, etc.
Honestly, that second list could go on and on. The first list is all about performing to audiences, the second list is more about relational stuff. You don’t get the same acclaim, but that doesn’t mean that it involves less talent. In fact, I would say the second list is more sustainable.
I just wanted to clear that up.