Natural Talent is Bullshit

I've accomplished a lot in the past 5 years. From a musical perspective, I got my music on a national tv show; I played every major venue in Cleveland, and was an opening act for some of my favorite musicians; I built up a small (about 3,000) following of fans online. From a personal perspective, I completed a master's degree in a year;  I changed career paths and nearly doubled my salary in 6 months.

I accomplished these goals with sheer stubbornness and hard work. I knew what I wanted and went after it.

I'm currently training for a dance competition, so I'm tapped back into my discipline. And that's left me reflecting a lot on this whole idea that a person's natural talent determines their success.


I took a five year detour to becoming a web developer. In college, I began as a Computer Science major.  I was the student in high school who didn't have to try for good grades, so when I found that I struggled to understand programming concepts and actually had to study, I took that as a sign that I wasn't smart enough to become a developer.

After a BA in English and a master's degree in Education, I couldn't shake my dream of becoming a developer. So I joined a coding bootcamp, and remembered something I should have realized chasing after a music career.

I think the concept of natural talent is bullshit. I think our talents are crafted by the hours we spend studying and experimenting, and influenced by the other skills we choose to polish.

When I first started playing music as a teenager, at points I felt entitled, as though I deserved more than what I was getting because people told me I was a "natural musician." As though there was some fate destined for me and my stardom was supposed to show up any day now. Later, in my early twenties, I realized that the more effort I put into my music, the more attention I got.

My coding bootcamp experience really solidified how much hard work I need to put into a skill in order to accomplish my goals.

Moving forward with my creative goals, I need to keep this in mind. I wonder about your goals, creative or otherwise. What's holding you back? Are you "too stupid," "not talented enough"? How legitamite are your excuses?


Carrie Ryan