Piano Cat / manooze @ sxc.hu / http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1431250

Why can I not be talented?

An unlikely occurrence of YouTube comment profundity.

When is the last time you found yourself scrolling through YouTube comments, the human embodiment of an oscillating fan, sighing eternally as you shake your head back and forth, carrying the weight of shame on behalf of all humanity?

We all fall down that rabbit hole at one time or another, repeatedly. There’s just something irresistible about how revelatory those comments can be. Misinformation, vitriol, outright stupidity. Don’t even get me started on the grammar and spelling.

Yet again, grammar is exactly where this story—rather, source of self-realization—begins.

One of my favorite things to search for on YouTube is piano covers of rock songs. Having taken lessons when I was younger, I admire other pianists’ ability to rearrange rock instrumentation for solo piano, many simply by ear while I find myself incapable of playing without sheet music. It’s safe to say my admiration comes paired with jealousy and a smidgen of self-pity.

On one video, a YouTuber shared their sense of self-pity, “Why can I not be talented?”

“Why can I not be talented?”

Hang on a minute, I thought to myself. It’s obvious what they meant, but their phrasing was just unusual enough to warrant a no-B.S. response.

Choice. Talent is very much a choice. The choice to put into practice and develop a skill that fulfills.

As I pondered my own choices to focus on developing skills other than playing piano, I happened across this marvelous GIF on Imgur the very next day. Who could have thought Bob Ross, a man who embodies talent, shared a similar take on the issue as me?

“Talent is a pursued interest. In other words, anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.” — Bob Ross

So, dear YouTube commenter, you can not be talented because it’s your choice to be so. Additionally, while the superior ability of others may make us feel like a hack in one respect, no one is completely talentless. Perhaps it’s just a matter of identifying and applying a different personal strength.

And although I succumb to wallowing and self-pity over one small incapability or another once in a while, I know I can still celebrate my choice to spend my efforts and commit myself to developing skills that I enjoy applying as part of my job and my hobbies every day. I’m fortunate for that to be the case. And as I get better at my job, time may allow me to the chance to tickle the ivories the way they deserve—of course, only after they endure my clumsy bludgeoning.

If we come to know how to recognize our talents and commit ourselves to always improving, we too can be like those YouTube piano players, inspiring others.

But that’s a choice we make on our own.