Ever told your artistic friend they're 'wasting' their talent? Here's why that can hurt, not help.

I need good live music only a little less intensely than a caffeine aficionado needs their next shot of espresso.

And woe to the mortal who gets between me and my fix.

In fact, when I go to events with my friends, I usually have to remind myself that they’re also there to socialize, and it isn’t polite to hiss at them when they try to start a conversation with me. I haunt open mic nights semi-professionally, and I played as part of a duo in Florence, Italy, for more than a year while I lived there.


So it often surprises people when I say that I don’t want to pursue a life as a professional musician.

Although singing is one of the great joys of my life, I would never want to make a career out of it. I would get burned out in a matter of weeks, and performing would lose most of its magic for me.

So although performing live music has become an integral part of my life that I can’t imagine giving up, I’m perfectly content to jam out with a band once or twice a week and sing to myself while I do the dishes (or cook, or clean, or walk down the street, or wait in line at the Chinese place).

Creative expression doesn’t have to be serious to be fulfilling; it only has to bring you satisfaction.

Since we’re talking about musicians, my friend Derek is another good example. He went to one of the best art colleges for illustration in the US, but he’s chosen to pursue a career in music instead. At some point he realized that paid illustration work wasn’t satisfying because of the limitations that clients placed on him, but he found the gratification he was looking for in casual expression.

I often forget about his artistic background until I see him sketching, and I’m always blown away by his talent. And the thought always creeps up in the back of my mind: It’s such a shame he’s not using that talent more.

And I always have to remind myself that he is using it, just in the way that he wants to.

My judgmental, hypocritical ass just needs to take a chill pill and stay in my lane.

The musician that I know best, however, is my guitarist, Francesco. When I watch him work, it confirms everything I’ve come to believe about dedication. He lives and breathes music, not just for school or his various projects (like me), but for the sheer joy of it.

It drives him, the way that stories drive me. I have entire folders full of words that burned me up until I wrote them down. Does it bother me that almost no one is looking at them right now? Sure.

But that hasn’t stopped me, because that’s not why I do it. I write to quiet the ghosts in my head, and whether or not I publish another word won’t change that.

So what do you do when you find yourself with a talent that you don’t want to pursue?

Just let it make you happy. It never needs to be more complicated than that.

This story originally appeared on The Feed and is reprinted here with permission.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.