the myth of effortless gift

Every success article begins with the success, then the fact that their beginning is a rather humble one.

That it needs a lot of hard work.

But you know, the only hard work we’ve seen from their success is the one written in an interview at an article somewhere. ‘I’ve worked hard on it,’ the successful people say, which, doesn’t really show how hard they’ve worked.

Do they work on it for sixteen hours every day for twelve years? Do they go broke in the effort of pursuing their dreams? Do their nightmares involve failing, wondering if their art will ever going to take off?

Here’s the thing: deep down, we don’t want to do hard work – we all want to be the cool girls. Let me explain.

The cool girl phenomenon is hardly a new one. Definition: smart, pretty, successful, perfect hair, lovable, effortless. Yes, the cool girl is the perfect girl who loves sports, excels in studies without really studying, goes out to have fun every week, and just gets along with everybody.

And she does all that without stretching a muscle.

We all want to be the cool girls (or cool guys). We all want to achieve success without seemingly working hard on it. All other successful people suddenly land into their fortune! Why can’t we?

The flaw to this logic is that we’ve never been to their backstage.

We’ve only seen the end result, and no interviews would ever convince us how hard they’ve worked for it.

The novel that won that Pulitzer? It has 167 failed first drafts. The successful blog that made hundreds of thousands dollar a year? It took seven years in the making. The amateur cooks who made brilliant food on MasterChef? They’ve been cooking since they could walk. (Maybe.)

There’s no such thing as an effortless gift. Talent will only get you thus far, and you need to put in the rest of the hard work yourself.

But it’s just not that easy.

Sometimes, I find myself reluctant to put in the hard work. It’s not because I’m lazy (okay, probably procrastination does play a part), but more often than not, I find myself not wanting to commit because I’m scared. Committing means investing, and that means if this doesn’t turn out well, I’ll get hurt.

Committing to hard work means I no longer have an excuse – a fantasy that once my first novel is finished, everyone would just love it. But committing means that my work is produced, and the world could see whether it’s genius or crap, or somewhere in between. Committing to hard work means getting criticised; it means the reality might be different to the one I’ve pictured in my head.

But we’ll never find out what our reality is until we try.

You know, there’s no such thing as effortless gift. Perhaps it’s time to let go of the fantasy land.


Photo by Chris Ford, Creative Commons