My circle of friends includes some very talented people. I was thinking about how you could ask me "Do you know someone who _____?" and chances are I could say, "Yeah!" and name at least one person who not only could do ____, but could do it phenomenally well.
I started making a list. I know people who sing, drum, do yoga, dance, hoop, spin poi, garden, build their own furniture, reupholster furniture, do their own auto repair, paint walls, paint pictures, cut and style hair, sew, make soap, wrap stones, make mead, make jewelry, raise horses, do mendhi, read Tarot, and fix things. I know massage therapists, metalworkers, teachers, web designers, photographers, writers, advocates, hospice workers, midwives, artists, musicians, sign language interpreters, and interior designers.
All of this describes about ten people. If I were to expand my parameters to everyone I know, the list would go on forever.
Being the sort of person I am, I was starting to feel like an underachiever, when the part of my brain that isn't crazy said, "Wait a minute...you have a boatload of talents too!" and started making another list.
Here are some of the things I can do, from the awesome to the silly. Sit down and make your own list--what are your talents? Your skills? What can you do, either through innate ability or acquired learning?
I can write fiction/nonfiction/a bit of poetry;
lead guided meditations,
hang pictures level and write straight without a ruler,
create dance mixes,
pick things up with my toes,
kick ass at Trivial Pursuit,
build gorgeous altars,
type 85 words per minute,
sing (My BFF insists I include this even though I disagree),
shag like an animal,
make people laugh,
and probably more that I can't think of off the top of my head.
Then of course there are things you'd like to learn or do, but haven't managed to yet--languages to learn, hobbies to take up, places to go. Websites have sprung up all over the Internet to help people keep track of their life lists and to-dos.
I started a list on 43Things.com, and I'm hoping to get started on at least one of the items this month (I haven't decided which yet). I'm planning to keep 20 items on the list at all times--I don't want it to get so long I give up on the whole idea, but I want to keep it lively. You're welcome to look at my list, and have fun starting your own if you like; I think it's important to be proud of things you can do and have done, but also important to keep challenging yourself to grow and do new things.
To me this is different than my old habit of making yearly goals I never met--these are wider plans, and I didn't force them on myself in order to keep a tradition. Some are things I've always wanted to do, and some have arisen in the last year or two as life has unfolded in its ass-backwards, sublime way.
Keep in mind the following quote from one of my media heroes, Stephen Colbert, made during a graduation speech he delivered:
Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don't learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying "yes" begins things. Saying "yes" is how things grow. Saying "yes" leads to knowledge. "Yes" is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say "yes."
Even a cynic like me has to admit there's wisdom in the idea of saying "yes." So think of all the things you'd like to do but have been putting off until you're thinner/richer/whatever. Consider saying "yes" to something that you've been denying yourself, something that will make your life more full and more authentic.
First, though, look over the list of "I cans" you made, your present fulfillments, and say it out loud: "I'm amazing!"