Purely Out Of Talent

“In time you’ll learn…You must find happiness right where you are.” Moana, Where You Are. By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mark Mancina.

There’s this teacher who doesn’t really like me, and although she may not like me very much, there is this one phrase that this person says that has always stuck with me:

Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.

Now, to be quite honest with you, every single time I stepped into this teacher’s classroom, a small part of me died. But that phrase always stuck inside of me, and although I may not like this person, I’m beyond thanful for this life lesson.

A long time ago, I came into terms with the fact that I wanted to go to art school.

No, I didn’t want to go there just to play around with watercolors and paint pretty landscapes (which is more often than not, the depiction of what art school is). And also, no, my dream is not to be in an art gallery. I honestly think people have got the whole concept of art school wrong.

Despite any of this, it’s still terrifying to come into terms with the fact that you want to be part of the art industry.

If you tell someone that you want to be an engineer, they praise you with the highest regards. Saying how many job offers you’ll get, all the money you’re going to make. It all comes back to that: how much money you’ll make.

And before you start getting all technical and defensive, I am very well aware that money is important. Of course we need it to have our necessities covered, and of course it is crucial to find a balance with a career that makes you happy, while at the same time being payed a sufficient amount of money. But that thought was the one that made me the most unhappy for a long time.

That was my biggest fear: Not having a high quality life.

So instead of exploring the arts, I went on and explored engineering, purely out of fear. While it was breathtaking to learn about their job and how intricate it is, I didn’t fall in love with it enough.

I wanted to love it so bad. I tried with my everything to immerse myself into that world, and the more I did, the more confused and anxious I got. I appreciated everything engineers did, all their hardwork and their studies, and how highly regarded they were, but I started to envy all of these amazing attributes that come with being an engineer.

I envied it because the idea of art school planted itself in the back of my mind. Because that is my favorite talent, art. I am a lot of things, but art, in all the ways that it comes, has always been an intrinsic part of me.

Ever since I was a young girl, if I had a marker and paper, everything would be perfect.

So that seed grew and grew, and I stepped on it every single time. I hated it. Why? Because going to art school meant that I wasn’t going to be successful. It meant that I wasn’t going to be regarded with the same admiration that scientists, lawyers, engineers, and doctors are regarded with.

“I can lead with pride…I’ll be satisfied if I play along…but the voice inside sings a different song….” Moana, How Far I’ll Go.

But that thought of art school fascinated me, it made me feel in a way no other career made me feel when I though of them. So I let it grow for a bit, and the next thing I knew, it was all I wanted.

Not only that, my mind started to wander into more ambitious plans. What if I could work for Pixar as an animator? What if I could help Warner Brothers with CGI? What if designed video games? What if I could tell the stories that are going to influence kids the way Toy Story, The Incredibles, and any Disney movie influenced me.

I fell in love with that idea.

I wanted more of it. So I came to terms with it, and absolutely no comment ruined it for me.

I went on to a summer camp at Ringling College of Art and Design. For a whole month I learned about 3D animation, figure drawing, illustration, Film and Photography, 4D Motion, Design of Imaginative Environments, and literally everything I have ever loved.

And as I was walking in a museum with on of my teachers he told me:

“You know, just the fact that you came into terms with the fact that you want to be an artist is already brave. Do you know how many kids don’t follow their dream career because their fear of failure was bigger than their conviction? Do you know how much talent ends up encapsulated in a small office typing numbers? Personally, I think that you can outdo anyone if you work hard, if you stick to it, and you don’t mind the work load, you can go anywhere.”

And that is the moment I knew for sure, I wanted to study 3D animation.

The biggest lie that people tell you is that all these amazing scientists, all of the brilliant engineers, the gracious ballet dancers, the most angelic singers, and the fastest runners, are only at the top purely out of talent.

But they don’t tell you, about the many nights they stay up late doing things over and over until they get it right. They don’t tell you about the times that they’ve ripped their work to pieces because it didn’t work. They don’t tell you about their self-doubt, and about the many comments they endured, that all went along the lines of “you’re making the biggest mistake of your life.”

It’s not just talent that gets you places, it’s hard work. Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.

Any path you choose to take is going to be hard. Do not undermine the paths artists take because it’s just as valuable and influential as the ones any non-artist takes. Every career is going to be filled with people who are better, people who want the same job as you, people who dream the same way you do and that’s why it becomes so competitive.

The question is, how far are you willing to go? How much passion is engrained inside of your bones, that no matter what the hell they throw at you, you are going to stick . to . it .

Talent takes you far, but hard work takes you everywhere.

So stick to it.

Featured Image: Photography taken by me at the Ringling museum in Sarasota, Florida.


By Michelle Rojas

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