I’ve realised that it’s not that I’m a loser who’s no good at things. It’s not that at all. The problem is, I’ve been searching for my hidden skills all this time in the murky and predictable waters of Commonly Accepted Talents. WRONG! Nope, my delicately honed aptitudes belong in a category that would be better described as “different” or perhaps “other”. Anyway, I’ve come to realise that I am not, as certain dance teachers have suggested, “devoid of talent”, no, I am simply talented in under-appreciated areas! Niche Skills, if you like.
So, in celebration of the lesser heralded knacks, I am going to toot my own horn here and now. Toot toot. If you’re someone who excels in any of these areas I salute you! Bravo! Ours is perhaps an underrated set of abilities – but they’re abilities nonetheless! And important ones at that.
Things I am awesome at:
1. Making easy tasks look both difficult AND embarrassing.
2. Loudly and obnoxiously declaring my loathing for a trend, way of life, or pass time, only to take it on years, months or even weeks later and then rant on and on about it as though I discovered it. Not only will the thing I swore I’d never do be the only thing I engage in, but I’ll be telling you what an idiot you are for not doing it too. (Examples include, but are not limited to: taking drugs, ceasing to take drugs, living in the inner city, moving away from the inner city, talking about pets as though they’re children, taking up running, and wearing fashions which are borrowed directly from the 1980s – All of which were once the sole preserve of losers if you listened to me at the right time, and all of which, became “how I roll” not that long after I defamed them.)
3. Being the kid that’s a minute or so behind the others and has to have someone explain what I missed.
4. Trying to look like I’m thinking when it’s clear that I just have nothing to say, or I have no understanding of what you just said.
5. Forgetting the important details, like the name of the place/person/cure, almost immediately after I’ve heard them.
6. Causing an unnerving end to a conversation that seemed to be flowing enjoyably until I entered it.
… I could go on, but I don’t want to outshine anyone – you get the gist anyway. There’s a list of skills, and they’re mine.
The real clincher with these talents, was that I was ALWAYS flabbergasted when I pulled one of them off. You could hear me exclaiming, “I can’t believe I did it again”. Yes, each and every time I’d find myself surprised at my skill in these areas. As though I thought that my kind of talent was something that might disappear, I’d wonder aloud, “Why do I always do that? Why is it always me?” … Well, now I can answer that self-directed question: Because I’m the freakin’ best at it – THAT’S why!
In his thoroughly enjoyable “Life Lessons from an Ad Man”*, Rory Sutherland explains that, “all value is subjective” and “persuasion is often better than compulsion”. Behavioral economics my friends – that’s the ticket! Choosing what it’s worth, and letting everyone else know the price tag … These elements of my personality are not liabilities, but strengths. They’re not handicaps, they’re selling points. It’s not a bug you fool, it’s a feature!
Now that I’ve realised that my special skills were simply a matter of incorrect branding, I can stop getting frustrated about their presence in my life, and start admiring my own work. “Look at that, I deftly managed to make that simple task look difficult and shameful! – Wow! That’s quite an art!”.
I couldn’t be more pleased with myself really! These are talents, true and real. Unsung talents until now perhaps, but certainly treasures of character and skill that I have mastered.
If Apple can sell millions of totally defective first generation iPhones and iPads, then I can be an Artisan of Character Features, damn it! … From “Social Awkwardness” to “Clumsily Timed Jokes” I’ve got the corner office in my segment of the skills market … And I’m just about to add “Personal Rebranding” to that long list of lesser-valued talents. I reckon if I play my cards right I’ll be able to start selling jewel-encrusted knuckle-dusters with the word “blundering” across them. Inappropriately cut frocks sewn from tasteless cloth could become the next designer “must have”. I’ll build an empire on spilled drinks, dropped pies, and foot-in-mouth!
… You can’t see me, but I’m currently doing double guns and blowing the imaginary smoke from the tops of my finger-pistols … That’s just one more proficiency in my cache of tricks found under the heading of “Mastery of Dorky Gestures”… You don’t have to say it, I know you’re impressed. Well, me too. Bang bang. Toot toot!