Dear Rachel,

This might sound stupid, but I feel like there is nothing that I am good at. I have friends that are great writers, or singers or cooks, yet I can't think of anything that I can do that is unique. Is it possible that I am just completely untalented at everything?


Dear Untalented,

There is no such thing as being completely untalented. It is, however, quite possible that you have yet to discover what your talents are. It is also quite misleading to think that we all must excel in particular areas to have talents or unique abilities. More important than finding what you are amazing at is discovering what you have a passion for. And everyone has something they can greatly love doing, even if they don't do it so well.

I remember as a kid contemplating the debate between nature vs. nurture. I was given gymnastics lessons and clarinet lessons. I always wondered if perhaps I would have been the best golf player in the world if only I had been given golf lessons. Was it really that I loved doing gymnastics or was it simply that those were the classes I was offered?

As I grew older, and especially as I started raising my own children, I became convinced that it is a combination of both. Definitely we are more prone to connecting to the things we are exposed to; however, a true talent is not something that will remain hidden. My youngest runs around the house composing songs and singing at the top of her lungs. She loves music and turns everything into a melody. My oldest doodles and draws constantly. She has been doing it from the time she could hold a crayon. My other daughter is always creating plays, speaking in different accents and role-playing, while my son uses Lego to build a vast array of planets, worlds and realities. Those abilities can be enhanced or developed through lessons, but they are my children's inherent interests.

Think back to what you loved doing as a child. Were you constantly exploring in the backyard? Making arts and crafts projects? Singing or dancing around the house? Sometimes, ironically, when as children we were made to take lessons or practice something we loved doing naturally, we then lost our love for it, as it turned into work. What a shame when a child who loves to play music stops after being told over and over that he is not playing the "right" way. So possibly your passion was somehow quashed years ago, and now is your opportunity to try to think back and see if you can resurrect something you loved as a child.

It is also time for you to try new things and expose yourself to interests you might have been hesitant to try. See what is being offered in your area and try out some classes. Maybe you would love cooking or sewing or training for a marathon. We can surprise ourselves. Sometimes the very things we never thought we would like or want to do can become things we both enjoy and are even good at. If you try something and it doesn't work for you, you don't need to stick with it, but at least you will know you tried.

My suggestion would be to start writing in a journal and jot down the things that look interesting and exciting to you. Write down what you enjoy and work back from that. If you love having flowers, you might really like doing floral arrangements. If you love music, you might enjoy learning to play an instrument.

Another area where you can never go wrong is investing your time in helping others. Give food out at a soup kitchen, volunteer in the children's ward of a hospital, visit an old-age home, etc. There is no question that your time, effort and involvement will be most appreciated and are definitely needed. Helping others will help you feel fulfilled and will give you a sense of purpose that you seem to be lacking. And you might just find that you are quite talented at doing wonderful things for others. What a great talent to develop!

Again, stop focusing on the idea that you need to be an expert at something and try to focus on what you will enjoy adding into your life. I have no doubt that once you find new outlets, you will simultaneously discover things you have real talent for.