Everyone is talented at something. It may be sports, drawing, playing a musical instrument, or writing. Some people discover this almost instantly, while others do not realize it at all. Either way, everyone is talented at something. But what’s worse than finding out you are talented at something, even if at a late time in your life? However big or small it may be, the saddest thing in life is wasted talent. I discovered my talent, unintentionally, I suppose, when I was 12 years old.
And I am constantly being reminded to never let it go to waste.
My mother and grandmother always told me I started singing before I could talk. I would always laugh it off and blame it on the television shows I used to watch. My mom would shake her head and argue that it was not Barney and Disney Channel, that I had natural talent. As far as I can remember, music has been a main factor of my childhood.
In fact, music is really the only thing I can vividly remember of my childhood. I always tell Mama that every memory I can recall has its own song to go with it, and that I could make a soundtrack to my childhood if I could. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true.
We would always have the radio on full blast– in our home, the car, outside– and without hesitation, I always sang along. The only time I would really belt out, however, was when nobody was around. I never paid any attention to how I sounded, in fact I didn’t even know I had a “good” voice, I was just like any other little girl singing in front of the mirror with a hairbrush as a microphone and a dream. Nobody knew of this dream of mine, or know the talent I possessed, until one day. It was a weekend, I believe, and Mama and I had just finished cleaning the house, as usual.
She told me she was going to the grocery store, so I hopped into the run-down shower in our too-small bathroom. Before getting in, of course, I popped in my favorite CD: Aaliyah’s “One in a Million” album. Thinking that I was the only one in the house, I started to sing along to every track that played. After about half of the album, and about 20 minutes in the shower, I turned off the CD and walked out of the bathroom, and into my room. I continued to hum to myself while I got dressed, with a few words added in here and there.
When I came out of my room, Mama and my grandma were sitting, pretty contently, on a chair in the kitchen. They smiled at me the instant I walked in the kitchen, and although I was confused, I smiled back. “Vivi,” Mama said grinning, “Why didn’t you tell us that you had such an amazing voice! ” As soon as she said that, I could feel my face getting hot. “I don’t have an amazing voice,” I quickly replied. “Do you not listen to yourself as you sing? It’s wonderful! You are so gifted, how could you saw that? ” my Grandma added. They gladly informed me that they had been “ear hustling,” or listening, to me while I was in the shower.
I was pretty embarrassed, but soon brushed it off after I reassured myself that it was just Mama and Grandma who had heard. Mama continued on to say that she knew I had a good voice, but was far more talented than she thought. She said as soon as she heard me, she ran and told my grandmother to go to the door and listen. My grandma said that as soon as she heard me hit a high note or two, she knew I had the potential to do something about it. She said that I should learn to write my own songs, and start singing to people I know, and that it would pay off and better my voice.
They also said that while I was in the shower, Mama told just about half of our family about her daughter’s “amazing vocals” like they really cared. The entire time they are telling me this, I was really wondering how long I could have possibly taken for them to have done all of this. She went on to say that she told whoever she could in the family that they should really listen to me, and that they would be amazed at how talented I was. So sure enough, everyone she called came over. When they arrived, I was in my room, with no clue as to what was going on.
Soon, Mama came in the room and asked me to come to the living room. Once I got there, all eyes were on me. By the look of confusion on my face, Mama could tell I was I did not know what was going on, and told me excitedly that she gathered everyone around the living room because they wanted to hear me sing. Still, I was confused, and asked her why. “They want to hear that incredible voice of yours! We are all so proud of you, Vivi! ” my Grandma said. I looked at everyone, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Then I looked at Mama – her face was priceless. She looked so happy and eager to hear me sing a song, even a note.
There was so much pressure, and soon my family began to push me to start singing, and began requesting songs. I felt my face getting red again, but this time, it wasn’t going away. My knees started to shake, and I could not look up from the ground. I opened my mouth, and felt my throat dry. I couldn’t swallow, let along say a word. It was so much at once for me, so I ran back to my room. I could hear the living room fill with a disappointed crowd, but I didn’t care. I was scared, embarrassed, and shaking. A few minutes later, my mom walked in and asked what was wrong.
I was so angry with her, for calling everyone, for putting me on the spot, for pressuring me to sing, and most of all, for not telling me. At first she was confused on why I was so angry, she didn’t understand that I was scared, so that made me even more angry. I began to cry and told her that I was scared to sing in front of all those people, regardless if it was family. She nodded her head and apologized for not knowing I had stage fright. After a few minutes of hugging me, she let go and asked me if I liked to sing. I hesitated, but told her I loved it. Everything about it, and I told her how much I loved music.
She nodded her head and asked me if I would ever consider pursuing anything with my talent. My talent. I didn’t even know I had a talent, but I guess singing was my talent. I liked it, I was good at it, but I was afraid to let anyone else see it. I admitted to her that I wanted to be the next Selena or Aaliyah, and she laughed but assured me that it was possible. I shook my head and told her that dreams don’t come true for people like us, at least not big dreams like becoming a famous musician. She looked at me amd reassured me that I was too young to worry about problems, and that children should have any ambition they desire.
She told me that as long as I go for what I truly want, I could do anything I want, and that I will always have her support. She said a few more things, but they are all a blur to me. Before she left the room, however, she said something to me that will forever motivate me to accomplish everything and anything in life. She told me, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent,” kissed me on my cheek, and walked out of the room. I sat in my room for the next hour and pondered on that sentence, repeating it in my head over and over again, and came to the conclusion that she was absolutely right.
If everyone wasted their talent, we wouldn’t have the doctors, lawyers, actors, artists, or athletes we have today. They didn’t waste their talent, so why should I? With that, I promised myself that I wouldn’t allow myself to throw away something that others wish they had, and work hard to get. I may not become a famous musician, but I can try. Because even if I don’t get a record deal, or perform at the Super Bowl or win a grammy, I can at least say that at the end of the day, I didn’t waste my talent.