Talented or not? Thoughts on identity
The other day I had my palm read. I didn’t go looking for a palm reader mind you. A friend of mine just offered up randomly that she could read palms and she read mine. She told me that I would live till I was about 110 (no thanks, at least not that long and definitely please let me be healthy until the bitter end!). That I would have one more child, a girl (um… Don’t you need someone else to procreate?). That my career ended (my singing career did end about 9 years ago). And that, by the curve (or lack thereof) of my thumb, I was only moderately talented. She also said that I would never make money with my sewing.
Ordinarily I don’t take this kind of stuff seriously. But I have to admit those last two things have stuck in my craw the last few weeks. I know I have mentioned my past foray in singing, but I don’t think I mentioned that at one point at a very stressful time, I lost my voice. I couldn’t sing in tune if my life depended on it. My larynx felt like it was stuck in lump in the throat position for months. That lump feeling, which in small doses is annoying, was so painful when experienced 24/7. It was draining. It was demoralizing. And it was humiliating.
I was a singer who couldn’t sing.
I was 28 and just about to finish my Masters degree in Voice. I had been a singer for most of my life at that point. I started voice lessons at 12 and had pursued singing ever since then. That’s 16 years people (for those of you doing the math). 16 years of singing. 16 years as self-identifying as a singer. There was no Plan B should Plan A fail. Because Plan A wasn’t going to fail.
Needless to say the next two years were humbling. I had not only lost my voice, I had lost my identity as well. What would I do now if I couldn’t sing anymore?
Fortunately, I did rebuild my voice from scratch with the help of some great teachers and I was able to sing again, better than before. Not only that, but I knew how to teach it too. Of course I was happy to regain my voice and to sing again, but one of the curious side affects of the whole experience was that of liberation. I didn’t have to identify myself as a singer anymore. The experience taught me that I wasn’t just a singer. That I could do other things if forced to do so or even if I wanted to do so. I think that’s why it wasn’t as hard as one might expect to leave singing when I did. I knew I wasn’t just a singer and that I could do other things. My identity didn’t depend on that one talent any more.
After that life lesson (and years of auditioning), I thought I would be impervious to comments about my talents. But I have to admit that palm reading rankled me. It gnawed at me. Could I still be identifying myself as a singer after all these years? It was like, with that one comment, she had pushed my button.
Today, however, I had an epiphany while ruminating on my moderate talent. I realized that I am actually not talented at all. In fact, I’m a creative. I like to create things. Whether it’s music, mosaics or sewing. The term talented sounds so 1996. It’s archaic and quantitative where numbers shouldn’t ever rear their ugly heads. Now “creative” is a term I can get behind. It seems limitless and positive. Positively limitless in fact. It wouldn’t matter to me if you tried to quantify my creativeness, because any amount of creativity is great in my books.
So, tell me: are you talented or creative?
Here’s a sneak peek at what I finished creating last night…