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what are you good at?

March 17, 2011

Do you ever wonder what you are good at? I mean really, really good at? For many people the answer is obvious as they were born with the ability to sing, to model, to invent, to pioneer…

I was born with the talent to…bitch and complain? Make fun of Ali and Maya? Clean obsessively?

This question consumes me. Especially lately as I get older and have yet to figure out what my point in life is. Because really, as much as I love creating works of art in Excel, I’m not exactly changing the world with my spreadsheets.

That’s not to say that I’m not good at things, because I am. After all, I am a super talented when it comes to:

1. Nodding appropriately and interjecting filler words as I pretend to listen to Maya’s numerous and lengthy stories.

2. Pulling together fabulous Power Point presentations, complete with fade in transitions, SmartArt and animation.

3. Squashing my smart ass comments as I pick up Ali’s dirty clothes from the top of the hamper and put them inside the hamper. Again.

4. Keeping Bloomingdale’s in business.

5. Reading everything I can get my hands on, including important literary works of art like Mini Shopaholic: A Novel.

Thus far Maya excels in socializing and in golf. And in driving me batty.

So tell me, is anyone else feeling slightly useless as they watch the amazing people with Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross deploy off to Japan to save lives?

74 Comments leave one →
  1. Erika permalink
    March 17, 2011 1:03 am

    Have you ever volunteered? Looked into volunteering with ( I bet you would be great at it. ( If you don’t have to work with baby teeth) 🙂 with your great language skills. You don’t have to be in the medical profession either. It would be something different. A learning expierence, and lots of other things of course..

    Have a great day!

  2. March 17, 2011 1:05 am

    I totally hear ya! But we can’t all be amazing doctors, right? It takes all kinds of incredible people to make the world go round! For one thing, think of all the people who have jobs thanks to your love of Bloomingdale’s! 😉

  3. spiceandmore permalink
    March 17, 2011 1:27 am

    Yeah I hear you too and often find myself thinking along similar lines, wishing I had some really useful skills or knowledge. I do have a ‘hardly used’ engineering degree so in theory I could do useful stuff like helping re-build…but I would not inflict my useless engineering skills and lack of knowledge on anyone, let alone those in real need!

    I can cook and I can join you in the reading department. If watching TV was useful I could probably enter that category as well. Hmm…that may well be about it.

  4. March 17, 2011 2:05 am

    Oh God I never thought about it like that. Now I am depressed. Yeah my skill set is similar to yours.
    Why can’t they get the clothes in the hamper – it is so annoying!

  5. March 17, 2011 3:37 am

    I am really good at keeping Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus in business. Nordstrom shoe salesman knows my name, size and picks out things I may like for when he sees me next…Bloomingdales will call me when something of my favorite brand comes in and they will hold my size for me until i come in. Now i feel pathetic. I must volunteer this week!!

  6. March 17, 2011 3:58 am

    Interesting subject. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think I’m great at anything. I don’t feel that I have any particular talent except for persistence (and I don’t think that counts). That being said, I do think I am good at lots of things, just not great at any one thing in particular. Do u think its better to have lots of things you are good at, or one thing you are great at? I’m never sure.
    *kisses* HH

    • March 17, 2011 8:13 am

      What do you mean you aren’t good at anything?? You are totally forgetting that you are an amazing writer, photographer, and cook/baker! Among many other things I’m sure.

  7. March 17, 2011 4:40 am

    Ah, this happens to me all the time! I just remind myself to worry about just focusing on myself and not minimize my gifts by comparing them to others’ 🙂

  8. March 17, 2011 4:43 am

    Lol, I am completely right there with you!! I feel as though the things I”m “good” at are virtually useless.

  9. March 17, 2011 4:54 am

    So I have this power point presentation coming up on the social groups of primates…can you help me out? Haha kidding!

    And book reading seems to be a dying art, so that is definitely something to be proud of.

    Haha don’t sweat it about not being into the unsweetened dark stuff. I still think you are very hardcore ; )

  10. March 17, 2011 5:10 am

    I definitely think about this sometimes, especially since I have no idea what I am doing with my life.

  11. March 17, 2011 5:24 am

    Hey, we can’t all be part of Doctors Without Borders. So might as well excel at something else, like shopping at Bloomies!

  12. March 17, 2011 5:30 am

    I feel you on this one too! I think about “my purpose” all the time. I do believe that we all serve a purpose, it’s just the finding it part that’s hard. 🙂

  13. March 17, 2011 5:37 am

    I hear you Ameena. “as much as I love creating works of art in Excel, I’m not exactly changing the world with my spreadsheets.” pretty much sums up my great life’s work. I might even steal that quote.

  14. March 17, 2011 5:51 am

    If on balance, you’re kinder than not, more compassionate than callous and forgive more than you’re vindictive, you’ve made the world better. Leave it at that until you’re inspired, As to your “calling” start a wish list of things you hope are your hidden talents and try a few. If nothing else, you’ll have some adventures and blog fodder.

  15. March 17, 2011 5:53 am

    Ugh– as someone whose main source of income is ADJUNCTING (re: below the poverty line), I feel this way all the time. I feel like it’s too late to make a “career change”– plus, I don’t know what I would even want to do. But at the same time, I really think the idea of a “career change” is hilarious, because I feel like I have no career at all!!

  16. March 17, 2011 5:57 am

    I think we all have our special talents and it’s what makes us unique. I could never be as good a shopper as you am, I’m sure. 😉

  17. March 17, 2011 6:07 am

    I’m good at being ridiculously early and making others feel guilty for it.

    I’m good at consuming massive amounts of food.

    I’m good at nagging my hubby.

  18. March 17, 2011 6:12 am

    Ha! Another post that hits home with me. I still have no clue what I’m good at except I can clean like no other. I would surly win a ‘worlds best maid’ award if I were one.

    I’ll admit when I read the title of your post I rolled my eyes and thought ‘great’ haha! My immediate response was NOTHING!

    After thinking about it a little while, I remembered that I AM the air hockey master AND free throw champion of this family of 3. Thats something to be proud of, right??

  19. March 17, 2011 6:27 am

    I really liked the latest shopaholic book!! I listened to it all the way through my commute the month of January 🙂

  20. March 17, 2011 6:42 am

    I’m still trying to figure out 😦 I would love to back pack the world…but um that aint gonna happen

  21. March 17, 2011 6:43 am

    Hahaha, I am creating a work of art in Excel right. now!

    I am also really good at telling people what they should be doing. Normally, I am really good at having this conversation in Silent Mode inside my own head, but I am thinking of transitioning into management consulting in order to get paid for saying it out loud.

    Also, you and I could maybe both benefit from Do What You Are, which I just took out of the library.

    Also, you are good at writing and at brightening my day with your entertaining musings on family life.

  22. March 17, 2011 7:39 am

    #1. sometimes I don’t know if kids talk just to hear their own voices and really care if we’re really listening.

    2. At least you know how to do Power Point. How did I get through university without giving at least one power point presentation?

    3. The hamper thing I will never understand. Men can score three pointers, but can’t seem to get their clothes into the hamper even if their marriage depended on it.

    4. A girl’s gotta shop to stay sane after hamper incidences.

    5. I don’t even read unless it has something to do with food. Just shows you how much I love you and your writing.

  23. March 17, 2011 8:03 am

    I still wonder what I am going to be when I grow up… While I am good at many things I can’t figure out exactly what my passion is and how to apply it to a profession….

  24. March 17, 2011 8:07 am

    I would say you’re also VERY good at writing/collecting a readership/making others laugh through your witticisms! I definitely know what you mean- i look at all these kids I’m graduating with who are all going into Peace Corps and Teach for America etc, and what am I doing? Well…I have no idea but I DO know that Peace Corps/Teach for America etc are just not my thing even though they are great organizations and might be for others. It’s taken me a while to accept that my passions/talents lay in other areas 🙂

  25. laviza (eclectic gourmet) permalink
    March 17, 2011 8:14 am

    I hear you…. I am good at a lot of different things (same stuff as you, ie. absentmindedly listening to hubby and kids, and shopping, finding great deals, + other stuff like interior decorating, gourmet cooking, makeup application, entertaining … which I think is no big deal, but some of my friends think I am awesome + talented – whatever ) ….
    since I think I have adult ADD, I never really focused on any ONE thing, to get really GREAT at something. Jill of trades, so they say.

  26. March 17, 2011 8:20 am

    OK, to be fair, you are ridiculously good at making just about anything humorous. Which is a skill that should not be overlooked. But yes, in light of Japan, everything seems a bit trivial.

  27. March 17, 2011 8:35 am

    I love this post because I often wonder the same thing. The hubster plays music. He’s good at those ridiculous logic games. He’s great at basketball. I, um like to bake cookies? It somehow doesn’t compare. But I’m gonna keep baking (and eating cookies) until I figure out what I’m really good at!

    PS: You’re a great mom. I’ve seen your skills in action, my friend!

  28. March 17, 2011 9:55 am

    This question has been hitting me from morning i have no answer left, possibly i can been good at baking and photographing, which is still in baby stage, God knows! and you are so good in writing and bringing a smile on our face wat can you ask for?

  29. March 17, 2011 10:19 am

    I have been feeling pretty useless lately too. While I’m good at school and cooking (sometimes)..I don’t have any “talents” like playing an instrument or singing or running really really really fast. Nothing I could show off. I could always invite people over to see how fast I could speed read Mini Shopaholic (it was really good, right?!) but that’s not the same as having people watch you play the piano or run a marathon…

  30. March 17, 2011 10:25 am

    I’m good at cursing and sleeping. So you can imagine the only thing I’m good for is being a Jerry Springer guest or a mattress tester.

  31. March 17, 2011 10:30 am

    You need to start writing books. lots of books =) I think you’d be really good at that too! =)

    I’m good at…… hmm… MAKING A MESS!!!!!!!!! Thats where I really shine. But then I have to clean it.

    and that sucks…

  32. March 17, 2011 10:55 am

    Same here. My husband is an architect and always wanted to be one and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I think most people are not sure we only do things that fall on our lap and may have never even tried things that we could be good at. I am with some other commenters, Writing/Writer. That is what you are great at, you can bitch you can moan and We Will Read it. So put another entry on that “THE BOOK” tab.

  33. March 17, 2011 10:56 am

    You’re a good writer!! Actually, youre a GREAT writer. So there you go. 🙂

    Me, Im still trying to decide what Im good at. Does spoiling my dog count?

  34. March 17, 2011 11:23 am

    Im good at picking boogers and cleaning ear wax. I SUCK at clipping finger nails.

  35. March 17, 2011 11:43 am

    I am good at….(long pause)….still thinking…..still thinking…wait the system crashed. Honestly I think I am good at nothing, all I can do is complain about the world. I am really thinking of doing some voluntary work it will really change my outlook about people, I think and make me less sensitive.

    • March 18, 2011 2:39 pm

      “wait the system crashed” … I love it! This keeps happening to me too…

  36. March 17, 2011 12:14 pm

    oh man. A-freaking-MEN. this is the hardest question EVER. on any date i’ve ever been on the question of…so what do you do when you’re not working? always stumps me. ALWAYS. i mean, there’s only so much time that running takes up during my day. or on job interviews: so what are you good at? ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

    no wonder i’m single and, after my vista year is over, unemployed hahah

  37. March 17, 2011 12:29 pm

    I totally feel ya!! I am GOOD at a lot of things but GREAT..hmm, now that something I really got to think about. But that is just me, I am not an overachiever, I am very easy going and thats a good thing, right?!

  38. March 17, 2011 1:37 pm

    I’m good at finding the downside of any situation. I’m good at feeling guilty (I’m Jewish, so I guess that is a talent I was born with). I’m good at washing dishes. I’m good at spending more money than I have. Oh, this is a sad, sad list.

    You, on the other hand, are an amazing writer. That is a true talent.

  39. Anver Emon permalink
    March 17, 2011 1:47 pm

    hey, don’t forget the volunteer stuff you’re doing for me. Already passed the word around and my colleagues are wondering what sort of genie you are.

  40. March 17, 2011 2:04 pm

    I find that whenever I try to focus on what my purpose it, the further it takes me away from finding it. It forces me to try to categorize/box myself into a label, and takes me away from just ‘BEING’ in the moment, and thus takes me away from enjoying/living life. It makes me focus on the negative – why can’t I find my purpose, what am I good at, why am I not happy, what should I be doing (implying I am NOT doing it NOW). When I am just allowing myself to “BE”, the more I find I navigate towards the things I love to do/ have a passion for. I find it tends to be something I am emotionally connected with, identity-wise, and have developed the skills for naturally, through learning/interest. It usually isn’t what society/I think I should be. For example, I gravitate towards all things Nutrition/Health/Diet/ International Relations/Politics/Humanitarianism/Human Rights/literature and reviews. When I am stressed and procrastinating, these are the topics I end up unconsciously ‘googling’ instead of what I should be doing. You have so many skills and are great at blogging and voicing your opinion (on top of a myriad of other things!). Blogging seems to be something you love to do, versus have to. So just let it flow, and maybe by using this as a stream of consciousness/medium of expression, you will find your calling by NOT looking for it? Does that make any sense, or do I sound like a “New Age-y” person? Incorporate what INTERESTS you into your daily life, and this will inject your day with passion and point you towards what you were meant to be!

  41. March 17, 2011 4:13 pm

    hell, i do that medical stuff but i’m not so sure i’m good at it. and i’m not off to japan. oh well.

  42. March 17, 2011 4:41 pm

    Maya’s twin was on the airport shuttle this morning in Vegas. I couldn’t think of who the little girl reminded me of, but reading your blog now I realized it was Maya.

    I love your talents on this post. I’m pretty good at Power Points as well. And the reading one…I can obviously agree with that. ^_^

    Happy Thursday! 😀

  43. March 17, 2011 5:26 pm

    I’m with you! Sometimes I feel so average, it’s suffocating.

  44. March 17, 2011 6:54 pm

    Ah, les medecins sans frontieres. Oui.

    Lady, this is totally another we could be sisters moment.

    My life-skills to date:

    1. Drinking wine.

    2. Cooking elaborate dinners for two.

    3. Shopping the J.Crew online sale-rack.

    4. Keeping the print journalism industry in business with my stack of magazine subscriptions.

    5. Addressing my mitts and paws.

    Oh, I have a nice phone voice too. But that’s where it all ends.

    The only thing I’ve become more certain of in the last two years is that I have absolutely no idea of where my life is going. You know, besides that whole with-Marcus thing.

  45. March 17, 2011 7:23 pm

    I could have written this. What am I good at? Actually a lot. But do I excel at anything? No. I just try and take pride in being average. My husband on the other hand is so talented it’s insane. I guess I am excellent at marrying huh?

  46. March 17, 2011 8:24 pm

    This will be a weird world if we were all doctors and firefighters…there must be people in need of these “amazing people’s” services in order for there to be “amazing” people in this world…if that makes sense at all. So, in theory, we are ALL amzing. Haha!

  47. March 17, 2011 9:57 pm

    maybe you are a good human and thats what you are best at being :D…

    Pulling off excel sheet miracles is no mean feat either ……Ask me I am a software engineer and EXCEL still boggles me :(….especially the new layout.

  48. March 18, 2011 12:46 am

    I struggle with this too, wanting to do something meaningful with my life but not knowing really what that is… volunteering is probably one way of doing something that leaves a tiny bit of impact in someone’s life…
    I do think though that you are great at blogging about real stuff and making others feel like they’re not alone in their thoughts:)

  49. March 18, 2011 1:45 am

    I just found your site and can I say I just love it! I find it incredibly refreshing!

    This post is especially poignant for me. In the last year I quit my job, sold everything and moved to Spain to be with my boyfriend. We are moving back to the states eventually (read: my career will resume) but I find it hard to have an identity here. I am good at yoga and grocery shopping. Win!

    ALSO… children! Ahhh! Such a topic of discussion between the Spaniard (bf) and I … we don’t have any… but he wants them. I have no doubt I will have a zillion confessions to add.

    I look forward to reading more!

  50. March 18, 2011 1:48 am

    Sometimes I get those sorts of reality checks where I wonder if ‘stuff’ I can do is really worth while….., but then I figure its what I do & what the hell…. I do it & its who I am & I kinda like it & it makes me happy & at the end of the day being able to pull together awesome spreadsheets & powerpoints with all its bells & whistles., putting on events or saving the world from the latest killer disease. I mean really…. its what we do that defines us huh. I’m cool with that 😉

  51. March 18, 2011 2:37 am

    Wow, who knew? I am good at many of the same things you are. I think it’s harder to define when you don’t have a clear cut passion. I am good at my job. I love to write but don’t know if I’m good at it yet. It’s a good exercise to figure this out. I could easily rattle what I’m not good at.

  52. March 18, 2011 6:52 am

    I wish I could figure out what I’m good at, too. It’s never been glaringly obvious to me either!

  53. March 18, 2011 8:10 am

    So you’re the one I should go to next time I need to use Excel or PowerPoint? Noted.

    But, you’re so wrong. You’re awesome at making me laugh every time I read your blog. And you’re a terrific writer.

  54. March 18, 2011 1:53 pm

    Great post. It is humbling to see these brave people impacting the world. I’m good at making lists, hitting the snooze button on my alarm, and making delicious microwaveable popcorn.

  55. March 18, 2011 8:21 pm

    About twice a year, I seriously consider ditching everything, going to nursing school (because I really am too old for med school) or something like that…
    I’ve decided that I’m good at being competitive even though I’m not enough at anything to BE competitive!

  56. March 19, 2011 6:53 am

    Once again, too funny! Also very real…I wonder the same thing. I can think of more things I’m lousy at than good at. And as far as Japan goes, I feel pretty good about donating money to the relief organizations that stick around the longest. I’m waiting a couple of weeks so when Red Cross ducks out of there I can figure out which charity to give to.

  57. March 19, 2011 12:50 pm

    Just another reason why the news makes me depressed. I’ve felt really good about my work a few times in my life, like when I’ve done social work and environmental work, but certainly nothing’s like doing charitable work during a natural disaster.

  58. March 19, 2011 2:15 pm

    yup. i do feel pretty silly blogging about dieting when there are much more important things happening in the world. you heard of the flooding in Australia a few months ago? (the size of Germany and France combined…) well, my husband has been doing flood assessments of people’s houses for weeks and it really puts things into perspective. life can change so quickly, hey?

  59. March 19, 2011 2:32 pm

    i don’t know what i am exactly good at…lol…but I wish i was a doctor or something..i just i just gota push myself even more to find out!!!
    great post! maya will So beat tiger woods!

  60. Kath (My Funny Little Life) permalink
    March 19, 2011 5:47 pm

    I have quite the opposite problem. I’m very good at several things, so I actually needed a long time to find out what I really wanted to do. I’ve sometimes wished I had just one talent because then I had known what to go for, but this situation has often felt paralyzing in a strange way – I have a decision problem, so I end up doing nothing or completely overworked. Still, many people don’t understand. I don’t know how often I’ve heard, “I would love to have “problems” like that!” Then I felt bad because I know that many people wish to be as good as I am in some area. (I totally suck at others, btw. Practical intelligence, for example, and sports. ;))

  61. March 19, 2011 8:11 pm

    Wow. You don’t even see what your good at Ameena – you are talented. Your good at just being YOU.

    You will be a published Author one day. If that’s what you want. I know it…..and maybe a stand-up comedian…actually you just need your own TV show as the smart-alek chick 🙂


    Really though, I have been thinking about this lately too – reading books on prosperity and stuff…and how to “make it” and succeed and get rich, etc etc etc…and they all require you to have a plan, a dream, something you want…

    But what do you do if you don’t really even know what that is? I don’t even know what I want to write about…let alone if I even can…



  62. March 20, 2011 7:44 am

    You are good at being funny!

    I know the things I am good at (namely knowing a lot about science), but I seem to be stuck in getting the chance to use them in any useful way!

  63. March 20, 2011 6:24 pm

    Well, I gave up my accounting career to pursue a career in dentistry because I didn’t think creating spreadsheets and reports that people barely looked at was very important. But at this point, as a student, I don’t feel like I’m very good at dentistry. I’m good at procrastinating with regard to schoolwork, though! LOL

    I dunno, does anyone really feel like they’re good at stuff? There always seems to be someone doing it better. Don’t sweat it – we’re pretty much all in the same boat. 🙂

  64. March 20, 2011 7:18 pm

    Ameena, you’ve just described how i feel to a ‘T’…except I can’t even figure out Excel and I don’t have to pick up Ali’s clothes from the floor.

  65. March 21, 2011 10:25 am

    Oh yes. I could have written this, although for me it’s more – what do I want to do. I’m happily delusional with whether or not I have the talent. I’m very happy for and insanely jealous of those people who know what their mission in life is early on – bastards 😉

  66. Samantha permalink
    March 21, 2011 6:11 pm

    Well, first–you are a mom to your beautiful daughter and that is the most important job ever! But, I totally understand what you mean–I often wonder the same thing about myself. Not to be conceited, but I feel like I have more to offer than what Im doing sometimes.

  67. March 25, 2011 3:44 am

    donate a huge sum and then feel better. You entertain hundreds of us…lawyers, drs, pharmacists so you are keeping US sane. Which makes you…superior? 🙂

  68. March 25, 2011 10:18 am

    You really would not want to see my idea of a spreadsheet…:( I know one thing you are amazing at, and that my dear is the ability to make me laugh and put a smile on my face every time I stop by 🙂

  69. March 31, 2011 9:06 am

    Thank you!!! I too always have trouble coming up with things I am really good at that I can brag about or fill out a survey question. I am good at studying and taking tests. Not very useful in this country… Other than getting your drivers license.

    Yes. People of Doctors without Borders curb my cynicism towards the medical profession. There ARE doctors who are in this because they care! And of course I feel guilty for complaining about anything. Luckily that lasts about 5 minutes…


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