Copyright © 2012 Shahema Tafader
For people who know me, they will remember me to be a shy individual who didn’t like talking about the different talents that I have, and their common question today is: why have I suddenly changed my tune to showcasing my artistic ability on social media ? That’s a valid question, and the simple answer is – to show respect.
My ability to draw was first recognised when I was 6 by my year 3 teacher, Chris. I had drawn a duck and he immediately noticed its accuracy. It was only when people started to react adversely towards me that I realised my ability was more than the average persons’. I would constantly meet people, my own age and older, who so openly boasted about all the things they could do; the whole while being so open and casual with me. However, the moment I felt comfortable enough to show them what I could do, suddenly things would change. They avoided my eye-contact; looked uncomfortable; if they complimented me it sounded tense and false; and soon enough – always the same – this would be the last time they ever made an effort to warmly communicate with me again.
These adverse reactions were a common thing with me, and they had a negative impact on me. Being a person with immense empathy, I felt guilty that I could make a person feel that uncomfortable around me just by showing what I could do. In fact, I was so concerned with their feelings that: 1) I never acknowledged that I am not doing anything wrong. Their reactions come from their own insecurities; and 2) I stopped wanting to share my talents because I wanted to spare people from their feelings of insecurities and inferiority.
In school, however, it is my job to attempt to do well, so I couldn’t not show my skills, but in doing so I was branded a “show-off” even though, if anyone was fairly assessing the situation, they would see that I wasn’t paying attention to anyone except my work. I wasn’t asking anyone, except my closest friends, to take a look at what I was doing, and yet despite this, I was branded a show-off.
As a result of both the adverse reactions from people seeing my skills, and the actual positive attempts at making me feel bad for simply doing what I was good at, I started to feel like I wasn’t allowed to show my skills. I felt like my talents could exist but they were not permitted to be expressly acknowledged. However, being a human, I had my limit, and eventually, when I turned 19, I realised that I was being too considerate towards people who are actually happy for me only when I am “beneath” them.
The truth is, the people whose feelings I was protecting did not ever hesitate to show me how much “better” they think they are to me because of all the wonderful skills they have; and frankly, they wouldn’t react adversely to me in the first place if they assumed I was their equal from the beginning. In my opinion, the only reason a person would react negatively to something as beautiful as a human skill, is if they never wanted or expected another human to equal them. The truth so often is that people don’t react adversely to another like this if they are not threatened by them.
Naturally, I lost patience with these people, but at the same time, I still wasn’t showcasing my skill, because I was suffering from a mental block ongoing since the age of 17. Fast forward to 2014, and after a brief conversation with my long lost cousin, I suddenly had a breakthrough. For the first time it really dawned on me that having a skill is temporary. I could lose my artistic ability through human illness, like arthritis; or, more certainly, I could die. Whichever one of these may happen first, the consequence is the same – I will lose my chance at using what I have; and as morbid a consideration as it may seem, what happens when I die and I meet my Creator ? What am I to say ?
“I did nothing with your talents God. There is nothing on earth which shows I was there, all because I cared more about sparing another person’s selfish, negative emotions than I did about respecting what you had given me.”
That is not the way I want it to end. So again, why am I suddenly showcasing my skills ? It’s simple: to show respect for what I have been given before it’s too late.