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There are some things I'm really good at and some things I'm just so-so at, and some things I totally suck at. They even out, and that's how it should be. It's funny, though, when I think about it, how people in my life who know I'm good at one particular thing, have no idea about the other things at which I excel. And they may know, or suspect, some of the things I am not so good at, but it's pretty rare, because I am nothing if not good at winging it.

I wonder how much of our lives are lived with different facets of ourselves turned to different people. The people I work with might know I'm in a choir, but they have never heard me sing, and they don't know if I'm any good at it. The people in my choir know I'm good at layout & design because I've done programs and posters for our concerts this past year, but they don't know I can draw and paint and write calligraphy. My kids don't know I write poetry, and my husband may know, but I don't think he's ever actually read any of it. My friends don't know I suck at math (well, maybe a few of them do) or that I can't mimic accents without a prompt. My neighbors don't know ANYTHING at all, really.

It's likely that no one ever knows us as well as our first family. As well as our parents, especially if they're loving ones, watching with delight and chagrin as we find our way in the world, learning what we can and cannot do with ease. I can hit a ball really hard and really well with a bat, but I'm not much of a runner, and catching is, hit or miss proposition. I don't think anyone knows that except my college roommates and the rest of the gals on my Sophomore year MSU dorm softball team.

Did you know I'm really good at spelling?* That I can remember names but not numbers? My dad, if he were alive, could probably testify to the fact that I'm a pro at diffusing tension with laughter, an ability that I honed growing up with him. I'm not good at resisting food. I'm not good at resisting sarcasm, either. I am, however, really good at thinking up names for things. I'm not so good at logic problems but it doesn't matter most of the time. I suck at keeping a straight face, but I'm actually pretty good at lying, although it's a skill I rarely use.

I think the things that I'm really good at make me special, even though I don't think they make me BETTER. I confess I'm glad that I can paint and sing and write and draw and type really fast and read really fast and think really fast. For me, that's better than being able to do math in my head or having a good "ball" sense when it comes to sports, or instinctive mechanical skills. I think it's cool that there are other people who are really good at the things I really suck at. I'm really glad that I'm married to one of them.

I've worked really hard at getting better at some of the things I'm not very competent at, especially math, but man, if you ain't got it, you just ain't got it, at least not at this point in my life. It seems like it's awfully easy as children, and as teenagers, to both embrace and reject the labels we are presented with, as well as the ones we instinctively reach for, and settle for. I wonder if I'm skilled at artistic things because I was praised for them as a child, and not just because I was good at them. I see my children already veering off into very decisive choices of what they think they are and are not good at, and it's hard to figure out sometimes how to motivate them to try new things and to keep trying things that they either aren't very good at, or are not good at, at all. "Practice makes perfect" may be a cliché, but it DOES help if the thing you are practicing is something that you have some natural intuition or proficiency for, to begin with.

*In English, not Swedish.
mood: thoughtful
music: Shawn Colvin—Something to Believe in

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

You are a darling dear. I wasn't fishing for compliments, truly, I wasn't :)

I bet you are also good at lighting up a room with your smile. You always seem to have an intense glow in every picture I have seen of you. I bet people are always drawn to.

Ha! That intense glow works when I'm mad, too. :P


The most telling statement here for me was your remark that no one knows us as well as our parents, especially if they were loving ones. Jeezalou, my Dad wouldn't have a CLUE as to what I'm really like. He's held on all these years to his perceptions of what I 'should' be like. It sounds like you got quite a lot of positive encouragement for creative pursuits when you were a child. Your kids are lucky to have a Mom who sees the value in those pursuits and encourages them...not to mention that she values them for HERSELF. :) ~Marilyn

You're right, and I think it's such a major loss for your dad, that he views you through such prejudiced blinkers.

Excellent post, made me think a lot about my childhood and some of the directions I took. Funnily enough, I'm a mathematical moron (oh really? Yes, REALLY!) and yet I grew up in a family with a father, who was an economist, a brother who wanted to go into engineering, another brother who ended up doing statistical analysis, a sister who made it through med school and another sister who works at architectural drafting now. It was very hard for my father to realize that I just didn't get it, despite the hours and hours he sat with me, trying to help me with homework. And it took him decades to realize that as long as I could balance my checkbook and do what I had to do in life, that was enough math and that was okay.

It took years for ME to realize that, too. That being able to do math in my head, even simple kitchen math, isn't all THAT important in an age when we have calculators. I used to be really ashamed of it, but now I think it's not that unusual, and it's also balanced out by the things I DO do well.

my dad and i never had a close relationship. he was an emotionally closeted drunk who never let anyone in, and because he always drank i didn't want to be let in. i really did not know him and i never really bothered to get to know him either. the only thing i knew for sure was that he was awfully proud of me.
but of all the people around me he was the one figuring out by himself that i was in love with F, my girlfriend from NC (now my ex). he woke up from a coma (!) in the hospital once and the first thing he said to me was "you're in love with her, aren't you?" (and he was fine about it.)
there are many ways in which we know each other, some of them are more obvious to us then others...

very true :)

Great post

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