One of the things I've heard from people my entire life is how talented I am. And no, this isn't some arrogant post about how awesome I am or how great my work is, toot-effing-toot of my own horn kind of thing. I'm not like that, and anyone who knows me can attest to that. However, when it comes to actually achieving anything, it was never my "talent" that got me much of anywhere (although it did play a part). It's always been a struggle, and my inner child often asks, "Well, if I supposedly have all this talent, then why am I still struggling every single day?" It's relatively simple, but a little anticlimactic.
Talent is phenomenal. It's a beautiful, wonderful thing to find something you adore and are also good at! That's what life is all about for each of us... finding what we love to do so that we can utilize it to make money and feel like we're not actually working a day of our lives =). Unfortunately, money is an important tool for helping things move along, and I have been sitting well below the poverty line for the last 12 years or so.
Granted it isn't necessarily "bad." Good and bad are human perceptions, not factual. I will say that life has been pretty different for me and my kids versus more "traditional" families. And money has always been tight, especially with the girls' dad only paying the bare minimum of child support ($25/month), and his support debt is well over $50,000 at this point.
The thing is, that puts power back in the asshole's hands, so it isn't what I'm pursuing. With the history of a loaded gun in my face and other abusive and horrible scenarios, that's a can of worms I would much rather avoid (although I wouldn't be surprised if he came after me for money or some other nonsense if I start making anything significant with my books and courses).
What does this have to do with talent? Quite a lot, actually.
Have you ever loved to do something and been discouraged or, at the very least, unsupported in your endeavors by those closest to you, so you give up because just doing the thing you do causes more problems than it solves? I have. My songwriting inspiration was severely cut short by comments from my ex-husband and his weird jealousy that I was doing something I enjoyed (when my first book got published, he was upset because my words were immortalized). Now, 12 years after fleeing the abuse, I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere and that is ALL ME. No one else.
That's not to say that I haven't had a wonderful support system... without my parents, my kids and I would have been homeless countless times by now, I might not have been able to escape my ex-husband if my dad hadn't made the police on my entire route from TN to WA State aware of my situation. There's a good chance I might have been detained simply because my ex reported me as missing, said I kidnapped the kids, and that I took "my" gun (registered to my ex) with me even though none of that was true. After the girls and I got here, a friend of mine from high school contacted me to let me know that she saw me and my kids on TV as missing people. I haven't been able to find or verify that, but why would she lie about it?
I've also lost 50 pounds over the last four months or so. That is also all me, although a certain other person played a huge role in that, too, by introducing me to quinoa and getting me into the habit of doing yoga every day. Total lifestyle change. Not completely, but I will say this: "weight loss" hasn't been a focus AT ALL. My focus has been health and being a better version of myself today than I was yesterday. I try to do this within every aspect of my life, but I also recognize that I can't do everything all at once, and bad days happen.
I'm sure you've had bad days, too. Everyone does, and when there's a huge risk with a potentially massive long-term reward looming over your head, things can get overwhelming and scary really fast.
That's where I am right now. For the first time, I am focusing on only three things for the entire year: my next novel (Numbers, book 2 in the Infiltration Trilogy), recording and publishing the audio book of my first novel, and my online courses for No Bull Self-Publishing.
This idea for creating courses came to me two years ago, and I am just now focusing on it because things never lined up properly for this before. I also have a lot more knowledge about marketing, and I've perfected my process for self-publishing, which is what I would like to teach other authors and business people so that they can use books as part of their business or as a main source of income.
The thing on my mind lately is that I wouldn't be able to overcome fear as easily as I can now (or just do things anyway, no matter how "scary" they seem) if I hadn't battled with daily PTSD symptoms and a gripping fear of dying at the hands of my ex. For roughly two years, I spent my life in fear. Panic attacks, constant paranoia, constantly looking over my shoulder, and scared as hell that he would make sure my kiddos became orphans.
But then nothing happened.
The fear was all in my head after a while (unless he's still plotting something, but how crazy would that be, especially since he has a new family? Fuck us, focus on them and not being a dick. Much more constructive use of your time and energy, thanks).
I ended up in another 4-month abusive relationship that ended when he hit his head and suddenly came down with selective amnesia. I still don't know if that was true or him lying his ass off, but it gave me the out that I needed.
One day, I went over to grab a couple of things he had found that were mine and he tried to keep me from leaving. By this time, I was fed up, angry, and generally intolerant of manipulative bullshit, so when he said, "THIS is how things are gonna happen," in a forceful tone, I drove away just as he stepped away from my car. He tried to claim that I ran over his foot in about 25 back to back calls that I let go to voicemail, and I called the police.
Since I wasn't in any danger anymore, the officer agreed to meet me to have a conversation about my relationship with this jerk. I told him what had happened and he looked at me and said, "The only person who can give anybody else control is you. That may not be as easy to understand as it sounds, but it's true, and if you think about it, you'll understand."
Wherever you are, officer... thank you for that beautiful nugget of wisdom.
Having experienced that, I began to realize that if I don't take control over my own life, then I open myself up to others trying to take control over my life. This isn't just about domestic abuse or standing up for yourself, either... this is about realizing that the magic of life, the accomplishments, the love, the joy, the peace, everything... it all happens more inside your mind than any other "place." Your internal work influences your circumstances, whether you believe it or not.
Negative people tend to complain about their problems but they don't necessarily want to do anything about them because it's "too hard." Positive people laugh off what they can, solve one thing at a time, and realize that this is what life is... a series of moments, challenges to overcome, obstacles to move past, and reactive emotions we shouldn't act on or cater to right away.
Alright. Back story is covered; hopefully you aren't getting bored at this point ;).
Back to talent.
You can have all the talent in the world, but it doesn't mean diddly squat without several other key attributes, which can often be developed or simply committed to.
What do you need besides talent?
There are a few things that help when you're working toward something, and oftentimes talent just gives you the right direction to go in. Talent is like a compass to let you know what to focus your efforts on. Having said that, I'd like to quote one of my clients: "Decide. Commit. Act." (Her name is Chris Makell; check out her book, Courage is the New Green.)
The moment this clicks for you, your life will begin to change dramatically.
Last but not least, I'd like to end this post with an amazing and awesome song that may encourage you if you find yourself doubting your journey.
Thanks for being here and reading my drivel ;).
Exactly by Amy Steinberg
Twisted yet positive coffee enthusiast with an appreciation for blood, mystery, and Root Beer floats.
All content © Jennifer-Crystal Johnson.
For inquiries about speaking engagements, freelance work, or consulting, please email jen (at) brokenpublications (dot) com.