I’m pretty sure Maybelline has a new tagline by now, but most of us remember this one. The commercials with mysterious women, showing off their good looks and flawless complexions while we wonder, “Is that just her face or a coating of every Maybelline product under the sun?”. While I normally dislike the messages from companies that make ads designed to make women feel inadequate, this one holds a pretty powerful message, if you forget that it’s about makeup.
The discussion of nature vs nurture has a long tenure in child development classes, psychologists’ offices and parenting circles, with most people in the know agreeing that both elements are powerful yet conquerable. We’ve talked here about the things that “come naturally” because of our brains’ standard processing vs nurturing new mindsets. We’ve also explored the issue of thinking that we are going to get x illness or be such-and-such a way simply because our parents are vs deciding that we will not have those traits and learning how to combat the genes that could potentially prove us wrong.
“Nature” in this paradox only represents the genetic code we are born with and how it is expressed, and science has proven that genetics do not necessarily predestine our lives, that we have some control in the expression. Genes also determine much of our appearance, from skin color to height, and obviously those factors will have an impact on the way we are perceived and treated and how we perceive ourselves. Each of those factors can be altered or embraced, and we can nurture a respect and admiration for what we wish nature had changed. While nature creates the framework and the figure, nurture provides the interpretation. We are what we decide to be or allow ourselves to be.
From all that I’ve learned and seen and heard and experienced; very few beautiful, powerful, important things in life are the result of simple nature. The natural world of plants and animals and oceans and sky and stars; and babies. That’s my list of excellence that exists without much nurturing, and even those are debatable. Our eco-systems, the water cycle, photosynthesis, they’re all systems of nurture; and no one could claim that pregnancy isn’t a huge miracle of nurturing.
There are two points here with vastly important lessons to teach:
- The things we see and admire took work to achieve.
- We are each capable of the same achievements if we put in the same work.
When you see something that makes you shout out in amazement, what caused it to be? You bite into the most delicious dinner you’ve ever had, perfectly seasoned, fresh, exactly as warm or cold as it should be. How much effort and time and work went in to making that possible? The things that we enjoy or admire are the result of huge amounts of effort, and we do ourselves and others a disservice when we forget that.
It’s easy to look at the skills of others and wish that we too had been gifted with such talent. The painters who easily turn paint and canvas into a scene of tranquility while our canvas has a barely recognizable figure. Is that a person, maybe? Or it could be a boat… We see svelte and toned people on the beach and wish we had “good genes” like them while we try to suck in our doughy stomachs and hide our thighs. What we see in other people we assume came naturally, yet we become overwhelmed thinking about the work it would take for us to get to the same level.
Whether it be a creative pursuit like art, music, dance, cooking, and design, or business skill, math smarts, financial stability, auto mechanics, or a foreign language, you have the capacity to learn it and become proficient. Will it be easy, and “come naturally”? Probably not. But don’t let that stop you!
After thinking about this for a week I decided to keep working on improving my drawing ability. I’ve always wanted to be great at sketching, like police sketch artist great, but for years I had the incorrect idea that those people were just naturally able to make people form nothing. Like in Kindergarten, while everyone else was learning the names of colors and how to hold a crayon, they were making impressionist landscapes in the corner. Umm. No. They learned how to draw exactly the same way everyone else did. They got some supplies and started doing it. There may have been classes and mentors, inspiration and encouragement, but they practiced and worked and failed a bunch and kept going.
What skills and traits do you admire in others and wish you could cultivate in yourself? Are you willing to do the work it would take to be just that good?
If you’re looking for some ways to build skill in the following areas try the links listed!
Drawing: Draw A Box
Higher Education: Harvard Online Learning
Literally anything: Youtube
Maths: Khan Academy
Yoga: Yoga with Adriene