#BeReal,  Blog

When Modesty Forces You To Eat Your Own Words

Remember these?


Buttons/lapel pins/whatever you want to call them, they were popular back in the day. I had a few. Still have some of them. One of my favorites was this one that said “My charm, beauty, and honesty are only exceeded by my modesty.” It was my favorite because it was funny, and kind of true. I was often told that I was too modest because I had/have a hard time accepting praise for my accomplishments.

Yesterday I posted to Facebook a picture of the sweater I made for myself. I’ve been working on it most of December and I finally finished it this past weekend. I had to unravel it when I was halfway through because when I tried it on it turned out the size was much too large. (For some reason, I still think I’m bigger than I really am.) Here’s the picture:


I received many compliments on it. “Beautiful,” “gorgeous color,” “very pretty.” “Thank you so very much,” I replied. But then someone invariably commented about how talented I was. And that stopped me dead in my tracks. It always does. I don’t feel talented. In point of fact, whenever someone tells me to list my talents I’m always stuck for what to list. Reading isn’t a talent. Cooking? No, most people can cook. Oh wait! I’m kind of funny. Oh, well, I’m sometimes funny. Okay, maybe I’m not so funny? I can write poetry but is that really a talent? Besides, it’s not very good, is it? Well, I CAN clean and do laundry but I’m thinking it doesn’t really take much talent to pick up clothes and put them in a hamper, or to put dishes in the dishwasher. In fact, my four year old can do that, too. He must be really talented. Oh, and I can knit. I taught myself over seventeen years ago. But that’s really not a talent. It’s just a skill. Anyone can do it.

Can’t they?

Apparently not. One friend, *coughGINGERcough*, seems to think that she can’t. My niece thought that she couldn’t because she’s left-handed. Lizzi was taught but it didn’t stick. And it did take me a while to figure it out. But I still learned, and I taught my Southpaw niece by having her mirror me until she caught on. I even taught myself to knit left-handed at the time so I could show her some tricks. Recently, I taught her how to knit a sweater and use her right hand to knit. And, really, knitting is an ambidextrous skill. I have to use both hands to knit, never just one. Yes, it takes some getting used to. You have to retrain your brain to think in terms of both hands. It’s like playing piano or any instrument. Even blow drying your hair. But is it a talent?Β It really made me think last night. What exactly do they think I’m talented at?

I didn’t design the sweater. I used a pattern someone else designed. To me, that’s talent. To envision an unmade object and then create it in a physical form requires abilities I don’t have. Could I learn them? Probably. But do I care to learn that talent? Not at the moment. So, I’ll use the pattern a talented designer created. Oh, wait. I get it now.

Just to be safe I decided to look up the actual definition of talent because to me, I’m still not talented. I just developed a skill.

According to Merriam-Webster here’s the definition of talent:

Simple Definition of talent

  • : a special ability that allows someone to do something well

  • : a person or group of people with a special ability to do something well : a talented person or group

  • : people who are sexually attractive

  • Full Definition of talent

  1. 1a :Β  any of several ancient units of weight Β b :Β  a unit of value equal to the value of a talent of gold or silver

  2. 2: archaic :Β  a characteristic feature, aptitude, or disposition of a person or animal

  3. 3:Β  the natural endowments of a person

  4. 4a :Β  a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude Β b :Β  general intelligence or mental power :Β  ability

  5. 5:Β  a person of talent or a group of persons of talent in a field or activity

synonyms: gifted, skillful, skilled, accomplished, brilliant, expert, consummate,masterly, adroit, dexterous, able, competent, apt, capable, deft, adept,proficient;


Well, damn.


Jesi Scott is an aspiring writer of novels, a poet, and blogger. She has guest-blogged over at The Well-Tempered Bards, and has a post featured at For Love Of…. Jesi has two poems published in Memories of Mist, a literary anthology, and one published story in a newsletter. She is currently working on releasing her first poetry collection as well as writing her first novel. When not writing, Jesi can be found getting lost in bookstores, singing and dancing around the house, experiencing culture with friends, and generally having fun with her four sons when they aren’t driving her weeping into her closet, which she calls her Padded Cell. She loves to rescue stray bookmarks, as well as books, and has opened her heart to any and all stories needing a home. Archery is her current favorite thing ever but you might want to stand back a little as she still has a tendency to drop the bow occasionally.


  • Dawn D

    Well, you ARE talented. It’s hard to accept, isn’t it?
    In some ways, I am glad I went into a psychiatric hospital more than 15 years ago… there I was told that I was talented. I didn’t see in what. I mean, yes, I’d knitted and embroidered the sweater I was wearing, but so what? Everyone could do that. And yes, I’d picked up a game I’d never played before and was actually able to win. But… surely, it didn’t take that much talent to do it, anyone with a mathematical mind could do it! Yes, I could sing. So what? Everyone has a voice, so… no talent there either. I know how to cook. So what… I could speak a few languages, so what? It’s given to anyone who tries hard enough, isn’t it?

    The list goes on. Like yours.

    But then it dawned on me (yes, no pun intended!): they really couldn’t do it. The fact that my abilities weren’t recognised by others (namely my now ex) didn’t mean that what I could do was not ordinary!

    So I got to learn that lesson 15 years ago. It took a while to really seep in completely. I’m pretty sure there are still places inside of me where it’s not caught on, but now most of me accepts that I have abilities that are special, not given to just anyone, and yes, that is a talent. Do I need to shout out from rooftops how talented I am? No, I still tend to denigrate it. But… most times now I can say thank you.

    Accept this took hard work and expertise. It is a beautiful sweater, and suits you very well. A beautiful sweater on a beautiful and talented lady πŸ™‚


    • Jesi

      Thank you. I appreciate this so much. You have no idea. And truly, I never think I’m talented. It isn’t really modesty or humility when you believe it to be true. I guess it’s like you said, when no one recognizes it you don’t either. So, that’s something I think I’m going to work on more this year. And you, my sweet, are definitely talented as well. In several ways, but mostly, for always making me smile. πŸ™‚

  • lrconsiderer

    Would you say that a world-class concert pianist wasn’t talented because someone else built the piano, and Rachmaninov composed the tune?

    Call it a skill, if you prefer – an ability/interest you’ve honed and expanded your capability with, through hours of practice and involvement, until you’re able to make beautiful things.

    I do a lovely basic stitch as long as someone casts on and off for me. I just keep going, though. Can’t change colour or do fancy stitches. Not even!

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