Karen Osborne

What is talent? In our world, talent is often synonymous with fame, fortune and entertainment stardom. Pop culture would like you to believe that you’re either talented or you’re not, and that the Simon Cowells of the world are the only ones with the authority to discover that talent.

People all over the world dream of being “discovered,” thinking they need to wait for other people to tell them that they’re talented before their lives can really start.

What makes me sad is that they often wait fruitlessly for years and years, not understanding that they are the best judges of their talent.

Maybe you can’t sing like Beyonce or Usher, do math like Einstein or write like J.K. Rowling. That doesn’t mean you aren’t talented. Everyone has a talent, and discovering and using that talent is where true happiness lies.

Many of the most talented people in my life have never been onstage or acknowledged by reality show producers, including the talented ultrasound technician who found a blood clot in my leg and the mechanic who discovered the brakes on my car were shot right before I took a road trip to Palm Beach. Without either of them, I may not even be here today.

I’ll always remember Mr. Edgar, the English teacher who took me aside and told me I had the potential to be a good writer, and Dr. Weis, who told me I’d never get there if I kept on being lazy about it. All of these people have one very important thing in common: They absolutely love their lives. They don’t need fame and fortune because they are each doing something that makes them truly happy.

If you’re not sure where to start discovering your talents, ask your teachers. They spend a lot of time evaluating students so they can give adequate feedback and guidance, and most will be more than happy to talk to you about what they feel you do best, and what kinds of things you need to work on. They might even have some helpful suggestions for you about possibilities you don’t know about or haven’t heard of before.

A second place to start discovering your talents is finding out what kind of a learner you are. Learning style will give you a few clues as to where your natural talents may lie. Learning styles are more preferences than absolute rules, of course, but they can still help you figure out what you’re most comfortable and happiest doing.

Visual learners understand diagrams, reading maps, highlighting notes and study using flashcards. They learn best by seeing and reading. A visual learner makes a great graphic designer, photographer, engineer, therapist or physicist.

Kinesthetic learners are happiest experimenting and solving real-life problems. Kinesthetic learners enjoy lab classes, field trips and small group projects. Kinesthetic learners are the people making huge steps forward in developing new medicines, and are some of the best sports stars and mechanics. Since they enjoy working with their hands, they also make wonderful farmers, carpenters and architects.

Auditory learners are great at listening and aural learning, and are among the best at learning foreign languages. Since they remember names very well and are excellent speakers, they make great politicians, foreign ambassadors and salespeople.

Don’t forget to experiment. Maybe you haven’t found your talent because you haven’t been exposed to it yet. Try a new instrument, take a shop class, start a new sport or go to a new club.

Most of all, remember that Simon Cowell doesn’t have the final word when it comes to being talented — you do.