A few years ago, a friend told me “I could never do what you do. I could never write every single day.” The comment changed how I think about myself. Writing is as natural to me as walking or talking. Often, in fact, it is easier than talking. Before my friend’s comment, I’d through of writing as an “everyman’s endeavor”: of course, some writers are better than others, and practice helps, but, at the end of the day, it is a mode of communication that can be learned by virtually anyone. The notion that my friend was actively afraid of — shy of! loathsome of! — writing startled me.
I don’t know what brought this conversation to mind the other day, but it made me think —
There is probably something that you naturally excel at that terrifies other people.
That thing is a superpower.
Maybe you are naturally gifted at mathematics. You are always the friend to calculate the tip and split the bill. You can easily estimate the number of attendees in a given venue. You can quickly scale complicated ingredient proportions. You know immediately when the bill is wrong and you are rarely taken advantage of because of it. You handily solve numerical problems other people languish over or avoid.
Maybe you are naturally athletic. You can sprint to let someone know they’ve dropped their cell phone, or get to the door of the bus before it departs from the stop. You are that gal who can grab the falling ketchup bottle before it hits the ground thanks to fantastic spatial awareness and quick reflexes. Your “easy gait” is another person’s “impossible.”
Maybe you are naturally outgoing. You make friends easily and keep conversations flowing with grace. You’ve never met an awkward pause. People lean on you in social settings.
Maybe you are naturally physically strong. You can help friends move heavy furniture and carry all of your suitcases or grocery bags without buckling under the weight. You can make one trip instead of four. You do not need to call in back ups to rearrange your furniture or shift your rug. You do not feel pain as intensely as others — headaches, injuries do not nettle as much as you’ve observed they do others. You are self-reliant in a unique way.
Maybe you are a natural at public speaking. You can stand up and deliver thoughtful remarks at a moment’s notice. You can kick off the toasts at a wedding. You can step in for a colleague who is flustered at the dais. Your gift in this area is essential to providing a “there” — a focal point, a place in which to gather — for any range of occasions.
Maybe you are intrinsically competitive. You can lean into intense, high-stakes moments with aplomb. You have the drive and confidence to not only perform well under pressure but outperform. You are aware of how others are doing and agile at edging them out. (As a corollary, I always watch professional sportsplayers and marvel at how they can stand up and swing/kick/run/throw perfectly despite the thousands of eyeballs on them. If even one person is watching me at the driving range, I will get the yips.)
I could go on and on, but will close with a very specific example. My husband’s cousin is a naturally outgoing guy, and a confident public speaker as well. He is always first in line to give a toast, or to make a quick remark in front of a crowd. While we were at the beach a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law stood up to make a toast to the family. She did a lovely job, although I knew based on previous conversations with her that she’d been rehearsing it carefully, and had been consumed with its logistics: which night should she deliver it, and at what point in the dinner? Just as she was wrapping up, my husband’s cousin quickly, seemingly without thought or contrivance, chimed in to say: “Beautifully put — hear, hear” and it was at just the right moment. He galvanized the crowd into a chorus of “hear, hear” and “well said!” while reassuring her that she’d done a fantastic job. It was one of the kindest gestures I’ve seen in awhile. And he was capable of that generosity because of his natural confidence speaking in front of a crowd. No doubt about it: that is a superpower. I worked my way into being a passable public speaker after years of practice and formal training, and I can already feel the skill atrophy with misuse. At my sister’s wedding in May, I spent days rehearsing my couple-line-long toast and my stomach was in tumult as we approached the toasting hour. I managed to get the words out, but my God! The internal angst was wildly disproportionate with the actual length of the toast, and its overall importance. For me to call out “beautifully put — hear, hear” in front of a crowd is about as unnatural to me as walking on the moon.
What about you? What’s something you are naturally good at that intimidates other people? If you need to get the creative juices flowing, let me share a litany of small things I dread that I’ve observed other people are naturally good at (and that gesture at their underlying superpowers): asking for a different table in a restaurant, meetings that are over thirty minutes long, explaining a problem to a customer service representative, any sport in which other people rely on me to return a ball to them, getting in trouble for a trivial infraction, heading into a group outing with no plan, making small talk with a hair stylist (I usually enjoy it but I hate figuring out when and whether it’s appropriate to read my book or let the conversation die out?), last-minute invitations, being asked to “say a few words” about something I’m not prepared to, cooking while carrying on a conversation with guests. There are many more. If you read any of these and thought, “Huh. I’d never have thought to dread that. That seems easy to me.” — that, m’am, is one of your superpowers.
Please share in the comments!
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+LOVE these oversized shades in the unexpected navy color!
+Speaking of navy, have already worn these Manolo-inspired navy suede flats. So chic.
+A perfect dress for meeting the parents/dinner with in-laws. Tasteful, elegant, but has a perspective.
+This bag reminds me of Hermes, but is currently on sale for under $200.
+Ulla vibes for $150.
+Digging the logo on these Gucci loafers. Would be so fun paired with simple basics — white tee, jeans, navy sweater.
+Adore these inexpensive boxwood motif napkins!
+Is this the fall I finally take the plunge and buy a Stutterheim rain coat?
+Fall apple picking and wine tasting vibes.
+Cutest scalloped bath mat.
+I had to order this dipping bowl set. SO cute and so fun!
+Good quiet activity for children in church/at restaurant!
+These Halloween jammies for littles made me smile. My daughter wears glasses and I think she’d get a kick out of them!
+CUTE gingham jacket.