celebrating our talents

A friend of mine on Facebook recently posted this question:

“If you ask kindergartners who is a good singer, or good at anything, every hand in the class goes up. Why do we devalue ourselves so much when we grow up? C’mon–what are you good at?”

HOW TRUE IS THAT. It reminded me of another article that Torrie linked to a while back about something called ‘Imposter Syndrome‘ It’s not an official disorder or anything, but basically it’s the phenomenon (particularly among overachievers, which, oh HELLO THERE!) where we are in complete denial of our gifts and skills- too wrapped up in hoping nobody finds us out as IMPOSTERS, so filled with self-doubt that it often clouds our ability to do our jobs well, even if we are truly talented and good at them.

And just a couple of weeks ago, Casey posted about her winning photos at the Indiana State Fair. She is an amazingly talented photographer, and that’s not just my opinion- I mean, she won AWARDS! But still, as she wrote on her blog, there is doubt in her mind as to if she really deserves the credit. And it can take some of the joy out of doing what we love, you know?

It seems we all do this, myself included. But why? Why do we insist on being humble (either genuinely or as an act- which, I’m willing to bet most people aren’t just acting, we really DO have trouble accepting praise for our talents and skills)? And how do we lose that from childhood? How do we go from being unashamed to dance around the room like a complete goofball in front of strangers saying “LOOK MAMA! LOOK AT ME! I’M A GOOD DANCER!” even though we maybe look like we’re having a seizure to hiding in the corner at a party, afraid of making one awkward move (in a room full of, let’s face it, about 30 OTHER people making many awkward moves on the dance floor!)

I say we embrace our skills. Whether it’s dancing or singing or cooking or cleaning or being really, really good at plucking eyebrows. So the question: What are you good at? SEVEN THINGS. (Why seven? Because that’s how many I came up with quickly and it’s my blog so I make the rules!) Toot your own horn! Post it on your blog if you want! Then come back here and leave a comment with a link to your post.

It’s time we all start celebrating our talents, however minor and silly they may seem.

THINGS I ROCK AT (besides ending a phrase or sentence with a preposition. HOLLA!)

1. I’m a good cook (also a good eater… does that count? ha) I mean, I’m not making gourmet dishes over here, but I do pretty well. Dan’s not starving, is what I’m saying. And I get more brave and independent in the kitchen every day. This week? I might even make up my OWN RECIPE.

2. I am very very good at managing (and saving) our money. I do all the banking and bill paying. Though I do clue Dan in now and then for what we have in savings, checking, major bills that popped up, etc.

3. I am good at being a mom. Even though my three-year-old sometimes acts like I’m trying to make her life SO. MISERABLE., I know that I’m doing a good job.

4. I can sing! Not like, super-star level or anything, but I can sing on key very well and my voice is decent. I sang the National Anthem a few times in high school and college for sporting events. (Ask me about the time I got SHOCKED- like 4 or 5 times!- by the microphone on my MOUTH while standing on the ice, singing at a hockey game. AND I JUST KEPT GOING.)

5. I’m great at keeping up with emails. I see horror stories on Twitter from people with literally HUNDREDS of unopened messages and I start to sweat just thinking about it. It comes mostly from my tendency to get a bit twitchy if I have something hanging over my head. And really, I get a lot of email (at least I think so- during a normal weekday, I get anywhere from probably 30 to 100 emails between work, friends, and my blog. Is that a lot? It seems like it is.) I keep my inbox as a ‘To Do’ list and that helps. If something needs a response and I can do it in less than 5 minutes, I try to do it immediately. If it will take some time on my part, I star it and come back later when I have time to focus on it (but not TOO much later!) If it doesn’t require a response or action on my part, it gets labeled and archived- boom! Done. If I have more than 10 ‘needs attention!’ emails in my inbox at any given time… I’ve been slacking, yo.

6. I have a very good sense of direction. I’m typically The Navigator when we go somewhere new, and I’ve only misdirected us a few times (and honestly, IT WAS THE STUPID SIGN THAT WAS WRONG, MAN. NOT ME.) Also: I love maps. Not a skill really, but a related tidbit.

7. I am an excellent speller. (I may have typos all over the place, but trust me- it wasn’t because I didn’t KNOW how to spell it, I SWEAR! Stupid keyboard.)

Okay, your turn!


  1. Jason from Cranberry

    August 17, 2010 5:33 pm

    I am extremely calm, with a sharp focus, in emergencies. Give me time to get stressed about something and I usually will, but fast, decisive action? I’m on it.

    Also, I can cook a delicious 120 pound hog.

    • Jen

      August 17, 2010 7:31 pm

      ooh that’s a good one. I’m actually not sure how I’d react in a true emergency… I am thankful that, so far, I haven’t had to find out. I’ll put you on speed-dial!!

  2. emily

    August 17, 2010 5:49 pm

    I think we’re taught that humble is good, and that any type of pride is bragging and hubris. I know I was taught that from day one. Not to mention that any compliment I received from my parents- particularly my mom- was given with conditions. “That’s beautiful! Why don’t you [insert some major change here]?” Or “That’s nice, but if you would only…”

    I admire people who appreciate their own talents and embrace them. Not enough people do that.

    • Jen

      August 17, 2010 7:35 pm

      Funny you say that, because TTG (on Twitter) and I were talking about just that- the fine line between being proud of our talents and using them fully, and being obnoxious and snotty about them. And how to teach our kids (especially girls, as it seems to be a very common problem among females) that it’s okay to realize and acknowledge when you are good at something… without being braggy. It’s a tough balance, for sure.

  3. Claudia

    August 17, 2010 6:53 pm

    This is so awesome and I’m really glad you posted this. It makes me happy :D

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  5. AndreAnna

    August 17, 2010 7:28 pm

    This was so great to read! Maybe you inspired my own post on it! Thanks!

  6. Erika

    August 17, 2010 7:57 pm

    I stole this for my blog’s most recent post.

    It’s true that society makes it a bit tough to be proud of what we’re good at. I think we’re sometimes viewed as egotistical or boastful if we don’t at least appear to think we aren’t that good at something even when we’re awesome at it. It sucks.

    • Jen

      August 19, 2010 1:37 am

      There is such a fine line between confidence and arrogance, for sure! I guess that’s the trick, isn’t it? Finding that perfect balance :)

  7. san

    August 17, 2010 10:02 pm

    Totally loved this post – so true!

    Even though I doubt that I EVER had any time in my life – even as a kid – where I was totally unashamed to sing and dance in front of others, I definitely feel that most people don’t give themselves enough credit later in life (there are still those ones that keep bragging, even though they don’t know anything at all, but that’s normal ;)).

    Things I am good at…

    … like you, I LOVE maps and I am a very good navigator and good with directions.

    … I am a good listener. I don’t know if that is actually a good thing, because people have taken advantage of that before, but mostly, I think it’s a good thing :)

    … I am good at keeping up with people. Email, mail, phone, you name it. I am also good at remembering peoples’ birthdays. I don’t know how many “OMG, you’re such a loyal soul to remember my birthday” I have gotten in the past.

    • Jen

      August 19, 2010 1:38 am

      ooh that’s another one for me- good at keeping up with people. Not so much the birthdays (though Facebook helps with those reminders! ha) but I’m almost always the one who randomly emails someone out of the blue to say hello. Thankfully the internet makes it a lot easier these days!

  8. C @ Kid Things

    August 17, 2010 10:07 pm

    I can not tell directions to save my life. I’ve lived in the same city for pretty much my entire life and I can still get lost just going around the block.

    I am a good speller, though. And I’m good at making people laugh. Usually at me, over something stupid I’ve intentionally done, but it works.

  9. Laura

    August 18, 2010 2:40 am

    Hm, I gotta do this one. I share a lot of yours, but I never would have thought of them on my own.

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  11. bluzdude

    August 18, 2010 5:48 pm

    I totally identify with Imposter Syndrome. Any second, I expect someone to come in and go, “What are YOU doing here?” and whisk me away…

    I think we deflect praise in order to appear humble. Since I was a kid, I hated being around braggarts. I figure, if you’re good at something, I’ll notice… if you have to tell me about it, you must not be that good.

    But I know I often get told I’m a good photographer (of anything but people). I always feel funny about that… I usually point out that the sunset (or forest or flower or pond…) was already there looking beautiful and I just snapped the picture.

    But OK, some things I’m good at:
    I can write things that make people laugh.
    I’m good at finding flaws in logic and picking apart an argument.
    I can reach things on high shelves.
    I take a nice landscape picture.
    I don’t usually hold a grudge, unless it’s reeeeeeeally earned.
    I’m easily amused and can entertain myself within my own head.
    I’m good at coming up with ways to do things efficiently.

    Now, the things I need to work on… much longer list.
    And it starts with “brevity.”

  12. Dave

    August 18, 2010 5:48 pm

    This is a great one. Many of us suffer from it. And I share a lot of the ones you chose; I think I’ll do this in detail when I get a chance, and if I do, I’ll link to it from here.

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  15. red pen mama

    August 18, 2010 6:24 pm

    This took me a surprisingly long time to do. I’m not the most humble of chicks so I’m not sure WHY it took me so long. But, here ’tis:


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  17. Melissa

    August 18, 2010 6:46 pm

    Awesome post. Maggie is lucky to have a mom who is so down-to-earth but also self-aware of her own talents–that’s a great example for her to grown up with.

    It was horribly painful, but I made my own list. :P

  18. jesser

    August 18, 2010 9:54 pm

    So so SO true! And such a great idea … here’s my list: http://jesser.org/index.php?pid=1607

  19. Lisa

    August 19, 2010 2:31 am

    I love this idea!
    Here’s mine!


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  21. Priscilla

    August 19, 2010 2:02 pm

    I finally decided to add my list. http://lifeofmine.net/2010/08/19/look-what-i-can-do/

    I actually breezed through six of them, I’m not sure why because when people compliment me I do the same thing as most people. “oh thanks, but it wasn’t that great” etc.

  22. Cassie

    August 19, 2010 6:50 pm

    Great post. So true!

    I like to believe that I’m good at teaching my kids the meaning of respect. Since my mother taught me, and the military beat it into me, it’s high on my list of priorities. My kids (being 2 1/2 and 15 months) will say please, thank you, no thank you, I love you and ‘this was delicious meal, Mama.’ (well the 2 1/2 year old does.) My MIL used to say that I was too tough on Claire, but now she says it wasn’t how she thought it to be and that my kids are the most polite and respectful she knows. Boo yah!

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