Professional Headshot — credit Margo Vann Studios

All those other talents and an actress too!

The title and story is a writing prompt from Mike Essig, who commented on this Facebook post:

Growing up, I was frequently told I was talented. And it was true that when I took lessons — piano, voice, acting, tennis, ice skating, dancing, skiing, gymnastics, and many more, I frequently heard “I’m sure you’ve done this before!” and “How many lessons have you already taken?” and “Wow you’re a natural!” I felt special being the best, and I enjoyed the attention, but eventually the other students passed me by because they worked at their skills. They would say to me “You could be a star if you’d put in the work.” I couldn’t. I lacked confidence.

Everywhere I went people noticed me. When I was three, Marilyn Monroe gave me a kiss on the cheek in Wil Wrights Ice Cream Parlour in Beverly Hills and told me how beautiful I was. Maurice Chevalier stopped me on the street several years later, took my hand and said, “To kiss the hand of such a beauty is a privilege.” I lacked confidence.

The stress of living up to my natural abilities was overwhelming for me. The pressure to maintain my looks was an enormous burden. I was complimented on my appearance and my talents by my father. These two things were my only assets he ever praised and accepted me for. I got bad grades. I acted out in the classroom. The boxes on the right side of my report card were filled with check marks — “Doesn’t get down to work on time.” “Talks in class.” “Disturbs her fellow classmates.” “Doesn’t participate in classroom discussions.” “Doesn’t keep her eyes on her own paper.” And I’m pretty sure I’m leaving out a few. I got mostly C’s and D’s with B’s in English and grammar and A’s in spelling and P.E. I lacked confidence.

My point is that I never did anything that required effort. I started things and stopped, never completing anything. It wasn’t until my father told me it wasn’t necessary for me to go to college and that I should get a job as a receptionist in a law firm and find a husband, that I took college seriously enough to graduate. I still didn’t put my all into it. I lacked confidence.

I spent my entire life up until now ignoring my natural talents and potential. For all that time it was safer for me to just think I could be great at all these things if I’d only put in the effort. I was so anxious that I could fail that I wouldn’t even attempt to try. I lacked confidence.

It is inexplicable that I could ignore the creative side of me for half a century until a Facebook friend, whom I had never met, mentioned last December that she liked the way I wrote a reply to her, encouraged my writing and told me about Medium. So this is for you, Fredde Duke. I will never be able to thank you enough for supporting my new and exciting journey. This is my 100th story.


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You can find more stories by Danna Colman here.

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