Top Shelf Column: New year, new you, new talent

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It’s a new year to learn a new talent…like art! (Intaglio print by Carly Zaleski/The Daily Campus)

It’s a new year to learn a new talent…like art! (Intaglio print by Carly Zaleski/The Daily Campus)

Happy New Year! You survived the fall semester, so congratulations. Now it’s a new semester and a new year, and it’s time to kick start all those “New year, new me” goals. 2019 is the year to go do what you want and not let anyone stop you. And I’m serious about that. If you want something, work for it and go get it.

As I’ve stated in this column again and again, I’m a writer. But I’m also an artist. I don’t talk about it as much, because for years in high school that identity was forced upon me. My name and my talent went hand-in-hand, and I struggled to separate myself from it. I also hated the comments I’d get about it. For some reason, “compliments” for people who are skilled in the arts usually come in the form of the complimenter insulting themselves.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard lines like, “I would kill to be as talented as you are” or “If I had an ounce of your artistic talent, I could do so much… But I can’t” or “I wish I was this talented at something, but I’m just not.”

I know so many people who want to learn a skill, be it art, a musical instrument or something else, but the fear of failure and being “bad” prevents them from ever pursuing it. It’s heartbreaking to watch people put themselves down and be miserable that they’ll never be good at something when the only thing standing in their way is themselves.

Because here’s the truth: Talent is a lie. Maybe some of us are born with an innate liking or slight skill in something, but believing that that is the only reason an artist is good at their craft completely erases the years they’ve put into practicing and improving their work. I’m not good at art because I was born amazing at it. I showed an interest in it as a kid and was forced into years of art classes that made me practice and create something every week.

If you want to be good at drawing, then just start drawing. You might think you’re terrible, but you’ll start improving the more you draw. And if you ask any artist, no matter how good they are, they’ll all tell you they’re terrible or that there are things they want to improve in. It’s okay to recognize you’re not perfect at something. That’s how you improve.

If you want to learn guitar, then buy one and start working out the chords! We’re super lucky to live in a time where there is endless knowledge available online. If you want to learn something, then there are thousands of YouTube videos seeking to teach you that thing.

Our generation has been conditioned to be so afraid of failure that we are terrified of trying new things and not being immediately good at them. But forget that! Fight through it. It’s a new year. Don’t let fear guide you this year. If you want something, then go get it! If you’ve always wanted to learn how to do something, then get out there and start doing it! You’ll thank yourself for it later.


Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at courtney.gavitt@uconn.edu.

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