No one wants to be afraid, as normal and as natural as it is. We want even less for the rest of the world to see that we’re afraid. We see fear in such a negative light, and it’s not without reason. Fear can feel shameful. It can make us look weak. It can even be debilitating. So we’d sometimes rather pretend it didn’t exist. We hide it from the world and even from ourselves to avoid the negativity that comes with it. But it doesn’t go away. We still feel it and it still bothers us, sometimes more because we wouldn’t acknowledge it.

We fear a lot of things. We fear for the future. We fear for our shallow pockets. We fear for our reputations. We fear for our safety. We fear for those close and dear to us and for their wellbeing. We fear what people will think of us. We fear that we won’t be good enough. We fear that we won’t be liked or loved. We fear that we won’t be seen as worthy, as having value. We fear being ridiculed. We have phobias, some more widespread and common like arachnophobia and others as idiosyncratic as trypophobia. Sometimes those fears keep us from danger in its many forms, but sometimes they can keep us from things that will ultimately prove beneficial for us. They can keep us from doing the things we really want to do.

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Sometimes we don’t do what we really want to because we fear what may happen if we do. We fear people’s reactions. We fear what they will say. We fear how it will make us look. We fear what people will think of us and how they will treat us. We fear that what we do may not be good enough or appreciated. We fear embarrassment and ridicule.

So we do nothing. We continue with life as it were, with the safe and conventional path that we’ve been on. We pursue our passions in privacy or as hobbies. This happens to a lot of people, but perhaps ironically it seems to happen a lot with very gifted and talented people. They fear showing that which makes them special. Why?

Renowned tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou has a reason for it. On his episode on the Netflix series The Playbook he gave his theory on why talented players tank and throw games. He explained that such people are unsure about many things (as we all are), but one thing they are sure of is their talent. But what happens if they lose? If they don’t perform or execute as expected? What does that then mean? Maybe it means they aren’t as talented as they thought. They prefer not to take that risk. They tank, and they can say they didn’t try.

This may not be exclusive to gifted people. In our own lives we often do the same thing. We espouse excuses and safety for risk and possible reward. Yes, the risks are very real and sometimes very high. But we shouldn’t let that keep us from pursuing greatness.

That’s not to say we should be irresponsible and carefree. It’s not to say either that we should pursue glory and acclaim for selfish gain, even if that drives a lot (if not all) of us every now and then. But we should make the best of the talents we’ve been blessed with and in turn bless the world with them. The value they bring to the world can be monumental.

The world isn’t a charity case though and we can’t pour from an empty cup. We need to take care of ourselves first. As much value as the world gets from experiencing and enjoying our gifts, we may get more out of them for ourselves.

We can become happier, more whole people through our talents. We can heal ourselves through them and be a source of healing to others. We can bring joy to ourselves and radiate it to the rest of the world. Also, if it wasn’t obvious already, we can become great in ways we can only imagine. We can become ridiculously famous and fabulously wealthy. We can be revered and wield power that no one person should.

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However, that can only happen if we take the initiative and expose ourselves (so to speak) to the world. Nothing comes of doing nothing and in this context sometimes little comes of playing it safe. High risk can lead to an epic fail but it can also reap huge rewards. It’s not fair to oneself to go about life and be asking “What if?” when there was something you could have done. It’s not fair to the rest of the world either.

There is some selfishness to keeping one’s gifts to oneself. See, a talented person is a blessing to the world and not just to themselves. There’s the potential impact they could have on humanity. There’s the denial of pleasure, enjoyment, and joy that people may have through interacting with someone’s talent or the product of their talent. Simon Sinek, a popular motivational speaker and self-proclaimed optimist, says that those with gifts should make them known to the world. They shouldn’t keep them to themselves, hidden from the world. Imagine if Albert Einstein had kept the theory of relativity to himself. Or if George Lucas had kept Star Wars as a hobby film project. Or if J.R.R. Tolkien had never written The Lord of the Rings. How uninteresting would the world be?

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So to the talented and the gifted, to those who know their gift and to those who don’t yet know it, shine and let the world see you. You have so much to offer and the world is desperate for it. Lay bare the gifts that you’ve been blessed with and make something great of them or from them. Do it afraid and do it all. Go ahead. We dare you.