Talent: Now and Then

Izzy Miller, Arts & Leisure Editor

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As I sat in the middle school’s auditorium, which was somehow smaller than I remembered, awaiting the start of Central’s Fifth Grade Talent Show, parents mingled around me while their children ran up and down the aisles, always scurrying somewhere. Upbeat, whimsical music played as a slideshow flashed pictures of Central’s current fifth graders during their years at the elementary school. There to see my sister, who was in the show as an emcee, I could only ask how the time has passed by so quickly.

The show began. A girl, dressed as a gorilla, danced ballet to a song from the Nutcracker. An emcee joked, “My teacher told me to walk straight home, but I live around a corner.” A boy solved a Rubik’s Cube, scrambled by a member of the audience, in a minute and four seconds—his personal record. A group of boys dressed as colorful ‘blobs’ danced to songs ranging from the Haarlem Shake to the theme song from the show Little Einsteins.

For many of us, those days were only a few years ago. Yet, elementary school, a time when we could make mistakes, when life was not so serious, and when we could freely express ourselves, still seems a lifetime away. Talent shows are a thing of the past. Nowadays, instead of participating in such events for the joy of it, much of the ‘talent’ students devote time to is for the sole purpose of college admissions. Save for a few spare hours on weekends, those true passions and obscure talents that were celebrated in elementary school are confined to nonexistence. Instead, hours are devoted to mainstream activities that students, parents, and counselors hope will look good on college applications.

However, this belief that it is necessary to relegate such talents to the wayside and focus more on those now celebrated mainstream activities appears to have inherent flaws in its philosophy. How can high school students learn to celebrate their individuality if they are put on pre-set paths and unable to get the time to focus on what they truly love to do?

I can offer the following advice to other students: take time out of your busy schedules to go and see the other upcoming talent shows of the local elementary schools. Doing so will provide a new, or rather old and long-forgotten, perspective on what talent means. Whether you currently believe it means succeeding and being a star at something that will be a positive for college admissions or that it means succeeding at something that provides you with joy and a sense of accomplishment, the concept of true ‘talent’ for many of us has undeniably shifted throughout the years, perhaps for the worse.

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