Paying the Price

Okay, I’m back for a bit with this little rant.

A young lady said something weird to me on Sunday at my church’s women’s dinner. We were doing this ice breaker where we had to find people who did certain things, and add their name to our list. An introvert’s nightmare. Well, anyway, this young lady I am acquainted with made this weird comment about me being a “jack of all trades.” It was the way she said it, like “You’re so good at everything.” I don’t think she meant that as a slight (“Jack of all trades. Master of none.”), but you never know with women. Well, look, I’ve acquired quite a few skills over the years. To best of my ability, the things I care about, I perform to excellence. I don’t do things half way–unless it’s card making. I’m definitely not a master at that, although I could be if I put my mind to it.

One can only do a handful of things well. I concentrate on dancing, singing, and sewing. I like to dibble and dabble in other things. There hasn’t been anything, recently, that I care to master. If I did, I would put forth the effort to make it happen. I really wondered what this woman was talking about. She’s uber-talented! She’s an artist. She paints, draws, makes pottery, plays guitar, sings, and leads a home group. I mean, the girl is fierce! Maybe she’s just missing the confidence. (See, this is why we women are in so much bondage, constantly comparing ourselves to one another. But that’s another post.)

For example, when it comes to guitar, I just have not drummed up the wherewithal and discipline to sit down and learn that instrument. I’m thinking of going back to the piano. But there’s no reason for me to feel jealous and insecure because someone else is skilled in playing that instrument or has mastered it. He or she obviously put for the effort to learn that particular skill. They paid the price to be able to do it well. I’ve tried learning a few guitar chords, and believe me, it’s harder than it looks. It hurts your fingers! You have to continue playing through the pain and build up calluses so it doesn’t hurt any more. Honestly, at this point in time, I am not willing to pay the price to learn that instrument. So I can’t be mad/jealous/insecure because someone else is better at it than me. I’ve got other things to focus on, and maybe if my life slows down, I’ll take another stab at it. But I’m not jealous of someone who plays the guitar with skill. I appreciate the pain and the awkwardness an individual had to go through in order to become proficient.

It’s the same way with dance. People compliment me often on my dancing skill, sometimes with a bittersweet wistfulness. Well, I didn’t start yesterday. I’ve been dancing for over twenty years, and I strive to improve my skills. I love it, and I’ve invested a lot of time, effort, sweat, pain, sore muscles, scraped feet, and mental determination to become a good dancer. Not a great dancer, but a good dancer. I was not willing to pay the price to become a great dancer. But most people are not willing to pay the price to even become decent dancers, yet are frustrated when they can’t do basic movements. There is also a level of boldness you have to have as a dancer. You have be confident in your abilities and, at times, be willing to look like a fool. Some people don’t want to look foolish because they care too much about others think of them. These people will always teeter at the edge of mediocrity.

It takes work! It takes determination! Dance, playing an instrument, singing well, being a artist, sewing, etc., is not easy if you want to be any good. There are no short cuts to brilliance. Talent helps, but work, determination, and persistence are what get you over the humps.

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  1. Hi, I know I’m responding to an old post but maybe I can still add to the conversation. In regards to the “Jack of all trades” comment, I honestly never realized there was a second statement (“master of none”) that accompanied the first. I don’t presume to know your age but I’m wondering if it’s a generational thing? I’m in my mid-thirties and wondered how old this young woman was? In any case, now I know I should be more careful using the expression “Jack of all trades.”

  2. Hi, RiAnge Creations. Ltd. ,

    I hear what you are saying. I’m sure my being on the sensitive colored my interpretation of the lady’s comment.

    It was just a strange comment to me, because the ice breaker questionnaire had nothing on it about finding people with talent/skill/hobbies (except for the poetry writing question). It was mostly questions like “Are you from another country?”, “Have you gone on a missions trip?” and “Are you the youngest in your family?” Questions like that. I figured it was a compliment of some sort on her part. It probably came out wrong. Not saying she’s jealous of me in any way. She has no reason to be. Just a topic I wanted to throw out there. Thanks for your insight.

  3. Hi there. I wasn’t going to respond, but felt that both sides should be addressed. I don’t think your acquaintance meant to be derisive. Perhaps, she really does see you as being good at everything you do within that particular environment. I gather she doesn’t live with you, so she can’t know what you’re not good at. And frankly, I don’t think she would care. She just sees you as someone who is super talented. Sometimes, we as human beings fail to express ourselves in the manner we want. Sometimes, what is suppose to be a compliment, is taken the wrong way. And it is hard to talk when you have a foot in your mouth. I guess that’s where accountability comes in. Last night as I was paying for my dance class with one dollar bills, a dance-mate made a comment about my “dancing money”. I asked her what did she mean by that? Of course, I knew exactly what she meant. But I wanted to hear her explanation and reason for saying that to me. I was not angry or upset. I queried her again. She actually meant to pay me a compliment but because of her own issues it came out ugly. Anyhoo, being a jack of all trades is not necessarily a negative thing. One is seen as spontaneous, open-hearted and open-minded. A bit daring, reachable, knowable and fun. To be the best person I can be, while on this journey is the only thing I truly desire to master. So the next time someone says something that rankles you, be gracious. Smile and ask “Whatever do you mean?”

  4. You are so right. I can tell that you’ve been embracing your talents by reading your wonderful blog. 😀 Thanks for doing that and I will continue looking for your wonderful creations in the future. You’re an inspiration to me. 🙂

  5. I would also add, I don’t try to compete anybody. I just try to be the absolute best I can be, because there are some areas in my life in which mediocrity is not acceptable–to me. God gave me a voice, so I sing to the fullest. God gave me dance, so I dance my heart out–for Him. It’s when others are not comfortable with themselves that they accuse you of showing off/being a ham/trying to be better than them.

  6. Libby, I feel you. Yes, I also believe everyone has some sort of talent or gifting. The point of my post is that not too many people take/make the time to develop those talents. And then later they may come to regret it or resent others for excelling in areas they wish they were good in.

    When I stopped comparing myself to others and fully embraced who God made me to be, I began to blossom in the things He made me a steward over.

    Overall, I think you have to know who are in the Lord. Only He can point us to our true purpose and help us to excel in those areas He has gifted us in.

  7. Let’s just say this, everyone has talent. It’s just takes some people longer to find out what theirs is. Some people have a gift. Those gifts generally will supercede the average person’s talent any day, but whichever one you have (or both), it takes time, discipline, and diligence to master or even to be halfway decent. When we truly realize that God has left none of us without one or the other (talent or a gift) and we learn to truly appreciate the one that He has given us, then we won’t have room for jealousy over someone else’s talent/gift.

    I commented about something similar on my blog. ( For a long time I didn’t really pursue some of my talents because I always felt in the shadow of others, every time. But now I’m realizing that it really isn’t about them at all. I can enjoy crocheting or sewing or playing the piano or photography WITHOUT being the best photographer, crafter, etc. And that’s perfectly fine. Now I enjoy my talents more each day and I am able to learn from people who share my interests because I’m not trying to be them or be better than them. It’s makes comradery so much sweeter.

    I also realized that when you have a lot of things you’re interested in, it is often difficult to truly master them all because just mastering one will consume a great deal, if not all, of your time. For me, that would be a nightmare.

    I appreciate you for coming back from your hiatus to post this. I hope that your church sister will be thankful for the talents she has and be able to work in union with you in the future. I also hope you didn’t mind this super long post!

  8. You are right about having boldness to do dance! I had to praise dance at my church for women’s day that practice alone got me! I didn’t get the total dance until the day of the dance. Let just say thats my last praise dance in front of the church!LOL

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