I work at a business college of sorts when I’m not gallivanting off to take people on vacations, so I’m around a lot of 20-somethings. And these 20-somethings are the might-still-be-18 or just-turned-20-somethings. Young is my point. Sometimes they seem really young.
But as I writer I think it’s supremely important to eavesdrop on as many conversations as you can, more especially when they occur in your vicinity and you didn’t even have to seek them out. This particular conversation wasn’t hard to eavesdrop on, not only because it was happening behind me prior to the beginning of a forum, but also because they were loud talkers.
It was a girl and a guy. The girl spoke of her high school years, which happened waaaaaay back in 2013. She was the star athlete of her tennis team. She had actually transferred to that high school, but because she played tennis so well, they put her on the team and she was the top player.
She mentioned how her school probably, like, totally sucked. Like, they just wanted her because she knew how to play and that made her look good in comparison.
I truly believe she believes she wasn’t that good at tennis in a general sense, but she was probably hamming it up a bit to feign modesty for the guy she was trying to impress.
But it was something she said that really struck me that almost made me turn around and correct her, but a) then they’d know how much I’d been eavesdropping and b) I doubt they would have cared what I had to say anyway.
She said something like:
I’m honestly not that talented. I just worked hard. I practiced like 4 hours a day and practiced really hard and that’s why I was any good at playing. But I wasn’t born with talent like some people.
I won’t do the all caps on you, so just imagine this next bit is me yelling passionately, but I wanted to say to her: talent is nothing without effort. Do you really believe someone like Serena Williams got to where she was today because she picked up a racquet and discovered she was suddenly a pro tennis player. She may have had a natural ability to learn quicker than most, but I can guarantee you she was out there busting her butt, probably harder than anyone before her to get where she is today. True talent comes from hard work. You’ll never be very good at anything if you don’t put in gut-wrenching effort!!!
I know this is an attitude prevalent among our society. That anything you have to make effort doing means you lack that talent. I know for a fact there are many aspiring writers out there who believe they just write and liquid gold pumps out of their keyboards onto the screen. We probably all still have that attitude a little bit when we scoff at editing our work. Even though I know editing has made my writing a bajillion times better than before, both then and now and in the future, sometimes I still just want to be lazy.
But even to get as far as I am today, I had to work hard at it. And the thing is, if you put in efforts to magnify whatever talent you have, you increase the amount of it.
So my dear 2013 high school graduate, the fact is you are talented at tennis precisely because you worked at it.
You’ve gotta work at it. You’ve gotta work at anything you want to be the best at. Many articles say it takes about 10,000 hours to master something, which means unless you’ve already spent 8 hours a day for 5 years of productively doing something, you can’t call yourself a master.
Sure, there are people who haven’t put in this time who get far or in a writing case, get published. But if they truly want to master their craft (and they should) the improvements should continue on. My own personal goal is to always do better than my last project, which is honestly why Book 2 is killing me. But I’ll get there, because I’m working hard.
Hard work is the answer. Hard work gets us there. Hard works makes our talent shine.
Have you noticed an attitude of ‘born gifted’ around you? What would you have said to Miss Tennis Player? Have you noticed your own talents improve because of the hard work you put in? Anything else you would add?