Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Talent" vs. "Skill"

Just a few thoughts that have been roaming around the last few weeks....
There have been a number of folks who have complimented the costuming, making remarks about me being a 'talented' seamstress. That's struck me as odd, because, according to my perception of 'talent', I am none of it. 'Talent' has always denoted to me a God-given ability, so that it is something that comes very naturally and needs only to be focused and directed in order to be remarkable. That's easy to see in something like art...there are people who have sufficient eye/hand coordination to draw a recognizable picture, while others (including me) can't even draw a straight line without a straight edge to help. I think sewing is the same...even as a 10-year-old kids in 4-H, there were a few who seemed to just naturally sew a straight seam, who could manipulate the fabric as desired without frustration, who could tell what fabric would work for a garment and what would not. I was not among those. As I grew up sewing, my seams wavered, my corners knotted, my fabrics were so cheap and ugly (well, it was the 70's) that my clothes screamed 'homemade'. I never noticed that the green-and-white poly doubleknit gingham with the daisy print superimposed on the checks, from which I made a skirt, pants, and bolero jacket that I wore for years, had no equivalent in any Ready-To-Wear. At least I was a pretty standard 8/10 in those days so fit wasn't an issue...but I would've been oblivious on that, too. I was a solid red-ribbon seamstress all the years I was in 4-H. Nothing remarkable.

But I did have one thing that I suppose was not common and that was an interest in making my own clothing. Frustrated with RTW prices, I just kept sewing, even though it was only so-so. It was the year I turned 30 (16 years ago, if you're keeping score) that I decided I needed to sharpen up my sewing skills. I actually went through a bit of a personal identity crisis...hey, I'm 30 YEARS OLD! I should be GROWN UP now!...that motivated me to do some personal growth reading. One of the books I read was Anne Ortlund's Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman. That book rocked my world and even though I've come to disagree with it in places over the years, it still ranks very high on the 'Words that changed my life' list. In the book, Anne wrote that everyone needs to have one thing that they are good at/knowlegeable about. Something they have highly developed. I decided I was going to study up and develop my sewing/fashion skills. So I subscribed to Sew News and began reading, learning, and trying more. That, my friends, is when I began to sew in earnest. Just 16 years ago. That's not talent, that's skill aquired through study and practice. Which is available to anyone who has the interest to pursue it.

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