Asperger's,Autism Spectrum Disorder

Skill vs. Talent

If you had to choose, would you choose to have an inborn talent or developed a skill yourself? Optimally, I would want both to have been born with an innate talent that I had since developed through hard work making me both talented and skillful. Sadly, I am neither talented nor have I developed a skill to a high level. I have, all my life, been stuck with being average in almost all that have done. I had neither the innate talent for something, nor the patience to develop any skills. I am the proverbial jack of all trades – I can do many things, but I have never become very good at anything.

In my younger days, and I say that knowing I am only 35 years old at this very moment, I was very heartbroken by this realisation. I felt sure I would find my talent if only I continued looking for it, and when I did find it, I would develop my talent and become truly skilled as well.

At the young age of I don’t even remember, I came to the conclusion that I had no abilities and no prospects and when I turned 30, I hoped it would bring me some modicum of freedom. It did, in a way, because I felt I was by then old enough to accept my lack of talent or skill. I could enjoy my life and simply be happy with a quiet, simple life.

I had also gotten over the trying age of believing I could develop a skill in anything as long as I worked hard enough. Years of struggle didn’t bring me happiness, nor did it bring me any closer to becoming skilled in anything.

You know why that didn’t happen? Money. Yes, I had none and just like everyone else, I need money to have a roof over my head and food on the table. In other words, I had to get a job and now that I have one, I would very much like to develop the skills needed for me to keep it so that I can continue earning money.

I am not sure why I wanted talents or skills before, but perhaps only for my own sense of worth because I had felt certain I had no value. Developing a skill, or finding some special talent, would give me value.

Now, and I know this is odd, in spite of a complete lack of skills and talents, in fact I am barely able to do the minimum of what is required of me at work, I feel I have value. I have value because I am me and that, unexplainably, is valuable to me. I like me. In fact, I love me. I don’t want to be anyone else, even if it was a very talented and skilled individual with lots of money and family and maybe a private island with house on the beach. It does sound good, and I would like to have some of it, but not if it meant giving up on who I am.

Being a jack of all trades has great value as well. I think I am more comfortable knowing a lot of different things instead of being very highly skilled in just one thing, so in the end, I am probably lucky, wouldn’t you say?

I do, however, need to develop my skills at work. I want to. I hate struggling to simply do the bare minimum, I want to do my work well. I don’t mind if I never become the greatest of all time – I just want to do my work well and without the amount of stress and anxiety that I now deal with on a daily basis.

How does anyone really know if they are talented? Are you? How do you know that you are? Or, if you feel certain you are not, why do you think you are not?

I think, perhaps, that we all focus a little too much on skill and talent. I am not saying that it is not important. I am aware that the level of skill or talent we have can radically change the chances and opportunities we have in life, but neither skill nor talent is so important that we cannot live a life of meaning without it.

What about finding joy in what we do? If we are happy with what we are doing in life, would it not over time lead to some level of skill? Perhaps we might even discover hidden talents within ourselves one day. The essential thing here is that while we are developing skills or finding talents within, we are enjoying ourselves and even if we never develop the skill we wanted to or find some wondrous hidden talent we are still having fun along the way.

I have made this mistake so many times in life. I forget to have fun and focus only on what I can or cannot do. Like when I practice guitar these days. I am still not very good – in fact I have neither skill nor talent. I want to learn though, but for a long, long time I’ve barely had the time to practice and when I do practice, I feel annoyed that I have not improved further than I have. In my early days of learning to play guitar it didn’t matter at all, because just the process of learning was fun. I didn’t expect to be able to play anything well, I was just having fun. Not only was I having fun, I was also improving little by little – I was actually learning!

So, what happened? When did learning become frustrating instead of fun? Why? Maybe I should ask, when did my focus change from having fun to what I can do? I am not sure any of those questions really matter compared to this: can I improve myself while focusing on enjoying myself?

Because I don’t want to not improve. I want to develop my skills at work, and I have not entirely given up hope on maybe one day finding something I have a talent for, I just don’t want that to be the focus of my life because if I never develop a skill or find talent within myself, would that not make my life meaningless?

Perhaps it is greedy to want to have fun while I learn, but I feel like I learn so much more when I am having fun instead of merely focussing on learning because I have to. It’s just really difficult to find that enjoyment again once we let it go in exchange for the need to have developed a skill or a talent.

You see what I did there? I don’t want to learn to play guitar, I want to have learned to play guitar. I don’t want to develop the skills needed for work; I want to have developed the skills I need for work. My focus is all wrong. If there is something we want to be able to do and cannot do, we need to first want to learn it – at least if we are to learn it without force, but with flow.

My main challenge is the constant worrying. Will I be able to learn this? Can I improve fast enough? Am I completely useless? Why am I struggling so much with this? Of course, such thoughts generally lead me down a path of negative self-talk and when that happens, I am not learning anything nor am I having fun.

I am going to think on that and write a post about this in future.

Learning while having fun, even when we struggle the most, is something worth working for – some may have been born with a natural talent for enjoying themselves while learning, but I wasn’t. I won’t give up working on it and who knows? Maybe it’s a skill that can be developed. If it is, I am sure it would make life a lot more enjoyable.

What do you think?


Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not always easy, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Since I was diagnosed myself, I have been trying to raise autism awareness and share my own experiences and thoughts about life as well as my search for a happy and fulfilling life.

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