Passion Versus Ability This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
In all of my many endeavors—music, dance, art, and, of course, schoolwork—it consistently comes to my attention in every instance that there are two very distinct ways to “be good” at something. There are those who are excessively fond of what they do, whose souls flutter passionately at the thought of doing what brings them joy, those who have a ravenous and all-consuming hunger. And then there are those who often receive more praise and attention, those who simply have a remarkable amount of innate talent but an overall nonchalant mindset. But who is really to say that one type is superior? I’m often left wondering—which musician is better: the boy who can whiz through thirty-second notes without extracting any personal excitement from doing so, or he who struggles with simpler rhythms but awaits each new chance to try with earnest, lusting eyes?

This disparity between the passionate and the gifted is probably most prominent in the world of schoolwork. It breaks my spirit to take note of which type of student is emulated, noticed, and acclaimed as “smart” by peers. The number of overachieving high schoolers, all of which remind me of worker bees aimlessly completing tasks to gain popularity with the queen—or, in this case, colleges—is truly alarming. How much does a perfect SAT score mean in terms of intelligence when there is no depth behind the mind of the person who achieved it? The anti-intellectualization of America, surprisingly enough, is perhaps most evident in these perfect test-takers. What happened to a genuine thirst for knowledge? Does the ability to appreciate the profundity of a poem now count as less than being born with a lucky I.Q. that translates into success but not into true enjoyment?

These acrobatic personalities are present in every field, be it business, sports, or even the arts. But how can we—as teachers, judges, or even as humans—really take on the right to measure how “good” somebody is at something? Our society becomes more and more robotic as the percentage of American college graduates radically increases, the pressure increasing at an even quicker pace. Somehow this competitive mindset has managed to extend itself across the board beyond academia and into activities that were once based on the pure thrill of taking part in them.

Again I ask you, who is the better artist: the man whose technicality and ability to capture his subjects realistically are astonishing but tainted with apathy, or the man whose passionate soul is fueled by his artistic musings even when his skills leave a lot to be desired? It’s a true puzzler, one that I can’t seem to figure out. What I do know is that happiness—not test results or monetary accomplishments—is what determines the true success of any scholar, artist, or performer.





Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Thesilentraven This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 15, 2010 at 2:04 pm
I am again surprised by your extraordinary ability to articulate. I enjoyed reading this article, giving thought to a matter which I had not given thought to before. Thank you for writing it!
 
LondonEye This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Thank you so much! Your support is greatly appreciated.

(I've read your work and you have quite a way with words too!)

 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback