I spent this past Friday night by my friend’s house. An inspiring woman who makes hosting seem so easy, as a matter of fact with her insurmountable amount of talents, she makes everything seem so easy. We were having a conversation, with a baby and a toddler on her lap and a few pre-teens surrounding her vying for her attention, about her son’s recent Bar-mitzvah. Being a brilliant “non-paid” event planner, she was involved in every single detail of the occasion turning it into a magical night, from making the sushi in the shape of a Tefilin, to the napkin holders, to designing the creative benchers. She smiled at me and said “Can you believe a woman came up to me at my son’s bar-mitzvah and told me that I am wasting my talents?”
Um, actually yes! Of course I can believe that because that’s exactly what I was thinking too. After all, my friend is incredibly talented and has a knack for creating and designing beautiful work. Everything she does is blessed and turns into a wonderful creation or work of art. A Taharas Hamishpacha event turns into a secret garden, a bar/bat-mitzvah get multiple specials meanings and messages depending on the month it falls out on, the holiday it coincides with, mixed with that particular child’s name, and her friends’ vorts turns into a memorable picturesque classical charm.
So I chose my words very carefully and said “I don’t think you’re wasting your talent, I just don’t think you are utilizing it to your fullest potential. You can be an event planner, a graphic designer, a creative director…” She smiled and calmly responded “but I am using my talents, I am using it for my kids- I am creating costumes, designing jewelry, planning their special events, volunteering in their school. I am using it for my friends, for the community, for Kahllahs who can’t afford an event planner”
And that’s when it really struck me that we live in a hustle culture, that as a society we don’t value talents unless we can somehow place a financial value on it, use it to promote ourselves, or highlight it in our social media posts. That if we don’t showcase our talents or our success with 10K followers than somehow it diminishes our gifts. That if we design a beautiful piece of jewelry and haven’t shared it with all of our social media friends than we can’t possibly feel happy and content. Our society’s growing reliance on fame and fortune has really blemished our mindset and we need to stop and realize that we do not need financial success or instagram fame to validate our talents. Much like when we ask a mother “so what do you do?” when did raising a family become not a good enough answer? We now do it with talents “so what do you do with it? Why are you wasting your talents?”
My friend does not for one second think that her talents are wasted. When she walks into a vort she worked hard to put together and sees the kallah’s face light up, or the face of the ladies in the community totally awestruck by every detail of an event she put together – when she sees the happiness and joy it brings to her family and friends- she leaps for joy at the chesed opportunities she gets to utilize her talents for. Oh did I also mention she is a mom of 8?, plenty of opportunities to utilize her versatile talents!