Have you ever been, or known someone who is just naturally good at something? Because if you have, then you can relate to the content of this post. If you can't, I question whether or not you are a human being.

In general, any given individual has something that they are innately good at. It can be anything from memorizing data to juggling flaming bowling pins. It usually takes a bit of experience to realize a talent, but once you've figured it out, it's pretty clear to you. So there are a few things that I'd consider myself to be good at, and only a few things that I'd say that I'm talented at. I have an easy time dedicating myself to things, I'd say that's a talent. My time management skills are pretty dang good, and I find ease in having ideas. Sure, some weird things, but I'd consider them to be talents of mine.
One thing I do not think that I am talented at is athletics. Never have I ever been good at a sport. Nor has anything about athletics really come naturally to me. Ever. Baseball, I mean, T-Ball? I hit the tee, and was the kid in the outfield playing in the sand. Basketball? If I ever actually scored, there is a 50/50 chance that it was my own teams basket. Soccer? Parents made me quit because they told me  I really wasn't any good at it. (I really only played because my friends played.) Track? I could kind of do longer distances. Nothing else though.

And then there is swimming. I really wasn't good when I started. I actually wasn't any good until my third year of swimming year round on a club team. At that point I was almost 14. At this time in my career I actually started to be a competitor. Like top five in my age group in Washington. I remained decent throughout High School, and definitely was at my best at 16. Then my coach at the time left out of the blue, and our team was in a purgatory for a while - completely coach less. It wasn't until my freshman year of college that I got any better, but I honestly just believe that was due to the excitement of something new.

Because honestly, I'm not a talented swimmer. I work hard, and something clicks when it comes to technique but I'm not talented. It doesn't come easy.

And honestly it's getting so difficult to continue to motivate myself to do something that doesn't really come easily. I'm not really sure why this is surfacing now. Perhaps it's been my poor performance this past season not only in meets but also in practices. Perhaps it's the fact that I see others who are talented and don't think I can keep up any more. Perhaps it's the fact that although it's a part of my life now, I can see that it might now be detrimental to my academic load, which I've always viewed as more important, but especially now that it's directly correlating to the future of a career. Perhaps it's my coach who I can't seem to get motivated by, or honestly trust with the well being of my swimming.

It's been weighing on my mind lately, what if I invested my time towards the things I am actually talented at? School has always come fairly easy to me, with all of my extra curricular activities in addition. What if I just focused on school itself? Would all of my efforts that have previously been spread concentrate into one thing? Do I dare answer my own, what if?
Lizzie said...

I had a similar dilemma starting tennis. I grew better and better the more I practiced, but I was never going to just kill the competition. As a senior last year, a freshman walked onto the team and had a perfect undefeated record. Don't think she lost any games, and certainly no matches. It was discouraging because I was supposed to be a co-captain and I was clearly an inferior athlete. This really bothered me.

I've also viewed my academic load as important and my talent to connect even the most unlikely people and to get along with everyone.

Anyway, all that to say I support your decision to stick with what comes easier in this instance, but to still never be afraid to venture out in the future.

You're a smart guy and I don't think I'm telling you something you don't already know.

mayte. said...

I think (and this is just my opinion mind you) that if it's taking a lot of effort and you're questioning your effort on it, then it's probably not something you should be doing.

personally, I've never really had that problem, but we have very different personalities. I only put effort in things that come naturally to me or that really really interest me, luckily it's memorization and learning which come in handy, but I've never been good with time management or studying.
also, focusing on school is kind of fun, especially when you're good at it.
I'd probably have better grades if I knew how to manage my time though...

Kayleigh said...

It's an interesting question you ask yourself. I suppose only you know the answer. If you like swimming, but you're not talented at it, why not keep going?

A brief example is someone who is naturally intelligent vs someone who is simply studious. The natural talent will take that person far, perhaps they will always score better on tests than the studious person. But if the studious person studies much harder than the only banking on their talent, eventually, the studious person will surpass them. I think talent has almost very little to do with things in the long run. If you enjoy it, do it.

I love drawing and writing. I always have. And I stink at it! But that just means I need to practice more, or, hell, I don't have to practice at all. If it makes me happy, I'm going to keep doing it.

I guess you must ask what makes you happy.

Natalie said...

I felt similarly about cross country. In high school I was pretty good if I do say so myself, but I'm just not cut out to be a collegiate athlete unless I devote way more time and effort to it. I didn't think that I would have enough time to focus on academics and that, and while sometimes I think that I probably would have and wish I'd stuck with it, I like not having to worry about it anymore and just running for the fun of it. But that's just me.

You've balanced your time and excelled thus far, but when you said how little sleep you were getting and still pushing yourself through all of those swim practices I was like... damn, Dillon. I think if the stress that swimming causes you outweighs the enjoyment, maybe it's worth considering investing your time differently. Just my two cents. I guess you just have to figure out what works best for you.

shelbyisms said...

I don't have a lot to say other than mimicking what the others have said, but one thing: Choose happiness. If swimming doesn't bring you joy, don't do it. If it does, do. It shouldn't be a battle between you deciding if you like it enough or not to continue. You can always pick it back up later.

▲my• said...

Here are my thoughts:

You should always pursue what you're talented at if you can. Even if only in the manner of a "hobby". Talents are something that, as the definition states, come naturally to you, and I honestly believe that we should do those things that come naturally to us because they are a part of who we are. I mean, supposing your talent doesn't harm anyone. If you have an incredibly talent for pushing people off cliffs I highly suggest you don't pursue it, and also, that you invest in therapy.

I also believe that one should do what they enjoy and love doing regardless of whether they have any talent for it. I love reading about physics, but I can't say I'm very good at it, or retain all of what I read. So, I'm not going to grow up to be an astrophysicist, but I'm still going to indulge in my love for the subject. See? If you truly enjoy swimming, or anything, you should continue to do it regardless of whether or not you see a talent for it. You don't have to be the best at something to gain pleasure from it. Working at something for the love of it, can also help develop a talent you may not have known you had. On the other hand you could be like this opera singer I read about, whose name I can't remember. Anyway, she wanted to sing opera all her life, because she LOVED it, but she had an absolutely awful voice. Everyone told her, and she knew it, but she continued to sing opera because it brought her a great amount of joy. She even ended up performing at a really famous venue. I want to say Carnage, but Im probably wrong. Anyway, she was asked if she regretted pursuing something she was so obviously awful at, and she always replied "no", because it made her so incredibly happy.
Do what you take joy in doing.

So, really: do what you love, regardless of how talented you perceive yourself to be at it, and pursue your talents because they're a natural gift.

Lizzi said...

I get this post. So much.

That feeling--- I don't quite know how to label it, but that's how I felt when it came to debate. I ended up quitting it for publications because designing and editing was just easier. And it wasn't easy in a lazy sort of way, but easy as in I produced better quality work without having to kill myself mentally over it.

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