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 a...er, 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.