Every one of us is given talents. We are naturally blessed to be able to do certain things well.
It doesnt matter who you are or where you come from, we all have the ability deep inside of us to excel at something.
Sometimes we are able to tap into our talents quite easily. Other times we have to dig a little deeper. But, somewhere in the core of us, they exist.
If there is anything that hinders us from unleashing them, it is fear. Fear can talk us out of just about anything. Why are we so crippled because of fear?
Have you ever watched small children as they attempt to work out a problem? Whether its a puzzle, a game or creating something, they are rarely afraid to try. I have watched them over the years as they constantly tried and tried again to solve what was in front of them.
They dont care what you think about how theyre handling it. Most of the time, they dont even know youre watching. They become so involved in the process they dont waste energy thinking about their surroundings.
In their minds, they have nothing to prove. They arent at all scared to try because no one has ever told them they might fail!
When exactly does fear creep into our lives? Usually its when someone around us doubts us or indicates we wont, or cant, succeed.
Thats when fear jumps in and grabs hold. Thats when we begin to doubt ourselves. It may be mean words, jealous laughter or even an eye roll that plants the first seeds of self-doubt. But once theyre planted, they tend to forever thrive inside us.
Thats why I get so upset when I read about all the bullying that continues to plague our society. You dont have to look very far to see this debilitating form of abuse taking place.
Any time someone feels theyre going to be made fun of for attempting to do something, it doesnt take a genius to figure out what happens next.
They avoid doing it for fear of being ridiculed. The victims slam doors to opportunities and talents they have been given to avoid conflict and pain. And, when this happens, many talents and gifts are forever lost.
I know all about this form of abuse firsthand. I was given talents early on that didnt fit the norm of most of the other children around me. We all know that when someone or something is different, its usually attacked.
Whether its skill, talent, appearance or opinion, if it doesnt line up with the others, it is unaccepted, ridiculed and judged. We were all created differently yet when we try to express what weve been given, our light is sometimes turned off because of people around us.
When we are younger, all we want to do is fit in when what we really need to do is shine. The fear of being belittled has cost our world many talented thinkers.
The people who helped me survive were my encouraging parents, my excellent teachers and my true friends who stood beside me when I was down.
Mark, you can be whatever you can dream, my mother said to me so many times that, even now, I use her words as a mantra to repeat to myself daily. It doesnt matter what anyone else thinks, she would say. You are unique!
Others are not as lucky to have the positive support I did. As a result, talents are being extinguished and, as hard as it is to believe, lives literally taken in the blink of an eye.
Every time I read about the suicide of someone who didnt fit in for whatever reason, it makes me sick. I personally know the effects of suicide from having a dad who took his own life. No one should ever have to go through that.
Years ago, I met an artist who created beautiful jewelry. I immediately purchased my wife and a dear friend one of his creations.
To see his exquisite work, I assumed he had always been a designer. But his story was quite different. After college, he became an electrical engineer, pursuing a career in the field that his father wanted for him. Deep down inside he was unfulfilled.
One day, he decided he really was a creative person and all he yearned to do was create. Even though he was middle aged, he quit his job and didnt allow fear to continue to control him.
He once again became like a small child, forgot about what others would think or say, focused on his goal and didnt even consider failing.
He followed his dreams and he became fulfilled and happy. He now owns and operates a store in Texas that sells nothing but his own creations.
His only regret was that he waited as long as he did to do it!
Today, the very things about me that were once laughed at are now celebrated. Maybe I was supposed to be bullied all those years ago for a reason. If I can help just one person by writing this column, it will be worth it.
Heres what I say to you: Just because you dont fit the mold of what society says youre supposed to be, please dont allow other people or fear to dictate who you are.
Each of us is given special gifts and talents. Follow your dreams and be who youre supposed to be!
Dr. Seuss said it best: Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind dont matter and those who matter dont mind.
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