As a little girl the preschool game of duck duck goose made me feel uncomfortable, and sort of nervous. I sat in the circle, terrified that the hand would be on my head when I heard the word "goose", but also almost wishing that it would. Because, then obviously, I would get to actually play. The problem is that I am not fast. So, instead of catching the person running around the circle, I would inevitably end up having to choose the next "goose". This was the source of all my troubles. I would eye each head warily as I placed my hand upon it. Should I say goose now? But that kid is next, and he hasn't been picked yet. But then that other kid is after him and she might get her feelings hurt if I don't pick her. Oh my, but after her is the new kid from down the street and I don't know him so maybe I should pick him to say "welcome to the group". Or maybe he will think I'm strange and so I should just pick the girl after him. And around and around the circle I'd go. Terrified of making the wrong choice. I've changed in a few ways, but in my core I am still exactly like that about a lot of things.
I've thought a lot about potential, like I said I would, and I have come up with a whole slew of reasons why I am afraid to be all I can be. I have decided to list them in number form, because otherwise I will ramble on and on and none of you signed up to read this as if it were a book.
1. Pride. Remember pride? My main question as I started this whole thought process was, "How do we develop talents, strive to reach our full potential and refrain from becoming prideful?" So the thing is, I am far far galaxies away from my full potential, and I am chock full of pride. Bursting with it. I know I am each time I am selfish, or petty, or easily hurt. So how do I keep myself from becoming more proud when I actually have accomplished things that are worthy of being proud of? Do you see how much I need your help?
2. Where to start? Some people are blessed with extreme talents that once discovered cannot be denied. Watch the Olympics folks, you'll see what I mean. Or people like my sister in law Rachel who can make beautiful things out of anything. Or my sister in law Mindee who is writing her own cookbook because she's that fancy in the kitchen. Or my sister Michelle who sings like an angel and spends every waking minute serving others. (Please note: all of my sisters have many other talents, they are all delicious in the kitchen, and probably could form an angelic choir, but I have picked out what I notice most about each of them. See, here I am still afraid that maybe one of them is insulted by my having chosen the wrong talent to display. Duck? Goose?) So, I am really grateful to have such wonderful people in my life (because please, don't even get me started on other family members and friends... Remember, we didn't want this to be a book.) The only thing is, I am not really "good" at anything like that. I mean, I can get by. I can hold my own. So in which direction do I pursue my potential? How can I be the best I can be if I don't have something concrete to work on?
3. This is all I've got. I'm afraid that maybe this is as good as it is gonna get with me. What if I am already maxed out, potential wise? What if I try, like in the old saying, "to reach for the moon, at least you'll get the stars" or whatever, and my rocket sputters and dies and never makes it off the ground? Because we all know I can't build a rocket.
I mean, let's say I think I'm good at playing the piano because when I was seven years old my deaf in one ear tone deaf in the other relative told me I had great talent and huge potential. And I listened to her even though my piano teacher fired me and my younger siblings cried whenever I practiced and yet I carried on, doggedly, for weeks, months, years, before realizing that I would never advance beyond the Blue Book for Beginners? (This is a fictional account meant to represent what might happen were I to decide I had a talent and tried to start developing it.)
4. Focus. I have a hard time focusing. We are supposed to do so many things with our time. We are to serve others, keep a clean house, be a missionary, be a good wife and mother, study the scriptures, magnify our callings, do our visiting teaching, attend the temple, develop our talents, and reach our potential. Here is where I find myself going around and around ducking and goosing. Ok, today I'm really going to do some service. Goose! So I might have to duck over keeping my house clean. See what I mean? Which of course leads me to instead of doing anything useful at all, sit around and worry that I am failing at everything.
Yeee-ikes! Oy vey! What is wrong with this woman?! Maybe I have too much time to think as I wait for my two year old to go in the potty so I can help her wipe, or as I'm nursing my seven month old. Or as I'm weeding the garden, or sweeping the kitchen floor. And that's when it hit me, dear friends.
Perhaps, for the people who have startlingly obvious talents like playing the oboe then that's where they should start. With practicing the oboe. And then like my friend Heather they should use that talent to make the world a better place one performance at a time, one heart touched at a time. But perhaps, for people like me (for surely there are others out there like me?) we need to just keep sweeping, and weeding, and wiping, and bathing, and soothing, and kissing and magnifying and templing, and studying, and whatever else we do that is the best use of our time and maybe at the end of this long road we call life we'll realize that we are a whole new person, a fully potentialized person.
**Although, I am still not done with this. I haven't quite figured out the whole pride thing just yet. And I have a few more thoughts percolating. Someday I'll stop thinking I promise, and get back to just posting cute pictures.