How to Start Embracing Your Inner Talents…Before It’s Too Late

Is there something that you are really good at? Something you can’t get off your mind, and can’t go a day without thinking about?

Everyone has that one thing, including you!

So what is it? Are you really good at sports? Like cooking? Painting? Are you a computer geek?

The truth is, your talents and the things you’re passionate about are what define you as a person. It’s your job to embrace these things and become the real you.

Now, let me tell you a story.

My Story of Lies, Secrets & A False Identity

…okay, maybe that sounds a little dramatic. But I will admit to you that I have not always embraced the things I’m good at. In all honesty, I was afraid to. And it’s easily one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life, and I know I’m not the only one.

My story starts like this:

During my freshman year of High School, I started my first business online. I’m a self-taught web designer, and I decided that this is what I wanted to do with my life at the age of 14.

I liked to think I was great at what I did, and thought that the earlier I started, the better I’d get as I got older. I remember sitting in front of the computer for hours learning as much as I could and then spend even more time applying what I learned.

You know you’re passionate about something when you pull all-nighters and lose track of time while doing it. That, and your siblings fight with you so they can get a turn on the computer…

After only a few months, I dove in and started my business as a blogger. I loved it. But, I never told anyone I knew about it.

My parents, brothers, sisters, teachers, friends, nobody knew but me, and anyone who found my blog online.

I was afraid to tell anyone. I was afraid people would think I’m a computer geek, or a loser.

I remember even ditching my friends a few times and coming up with excuses and lies as to why I couldn’t hang out with them. I wanted to work on my business, and learn more about the things I was passionate about rather than going out to party or smoke weed.

I even went as far as using a fake name on my blog to ensure that no one I knew could look me up on Google and find my blog.

Call it obsession, call it being anti-social — I call it passion and doing what made me happy at the time. Unfortunately, I just could not be honest with people about what it is I actually did.

3 Years Later…

My senior year of High School is when I started becoming open with people about my business. Yes, it took me 3 freakin’ years to tell my friends and teachers about what it was I did online.

Of course, my parents and family knew by then. And they couldn’t have been more proud of me. But what surprised me the most was that even my friends were impressed. Hell, some were even jealous.

…not the reaction I would have expected. At all.

As a matter of fact, I was never once called a “nerd” or “loser” (I have actually come to terms with the fact that I am a computer nerd, and I love it) when I told somebody about my business.

Of course, I wasn’t doing any of this to get approval from others, or to get my ego stroked. But to finally be able to come clean and stop living in a lie.

Now, Back to You

My story is not unique, and I’d bet that you’ve made the same mistake in your life as well by hiding things from others.

Even if it’s something as big as a hobby, or something small like a favorite song (it’s okay to admit that “YMCA” is a catchy song, everyone else secretly thinks so too).

The longer you keep your talents and passion bottled up, the less time you’ll have to hone in on them and actually make something of them.

Ever since I started telling people what I did, I’ve flourished. I started my second business online, don’t worry about money, I now travel to network with others who do what I do, and am preparing for my first newspaper interview in a few weeks.

But the best thing of all, is I do something that I love and I do it with no shame. I wish I had told people sooner, because maybe I’d be even better at what I do today. But I’m too happy with what I have now to let all that get to me today.

Use My Mistakes to Make a Better You

If you’re great at something, embrace it. If you ever want to get better at something, you have to be able to tell others without shame. Now, I want you to share your story with the rest of the Life Notion community. Have you ever kept your true talents a secret because you’re too worried about what other people will think? You know my story, so tell me yours. Please leave a comment below (don’t be shy!).

About the author: Alex Mangini is an 18-year-old web designer, blogger and founder of Life Notion. He has been helping people online since the age of 14, and hopes to inspire even more through the blog. Follow him on Twitter →

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam King November 30, 2011 at 10:17 am

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“You know you’re passionate about something when you pull all-nighters and lose track of time while doing it.” – so, so true.

“Hell, some were even jealous.” – of course they’re jealous… they’re losers who score themselves against you and not their own benchmarks of success… ask them what success means to them and they’ll give you a shrug of the shoulders and a blank stare… or even get aggressive.

Also, your greatness shows their smallness! …and they know it.

Great post.

Alex Mangini November 30, 2011 at 10:26 am

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Thanks for the comment Sam! :-D

I know a lot of people who don’t know what they want to do with their lives. People who are banking on college to “make them,” but still unsure of what they want to go to college for. I know people who depend on their parents to give them money, and just don’t really take control of their own life.

That’s not me, I KNOW that’s not you. And I feel like jealousy is a great motivator, so I hope that I can inspire some of the people who know what I do.

Sam King November 30, 2011 at 11:03 am

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Amen to that.

Gregory Ciotti November 30, 2011 at 10:21 am

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Since I mostly started online projects as a college kid, I was a bit more open about what I was doing, since in college most people drop the stereotypes of “geek” and all of that, but I understand where you are coming from in highschool, people can be judgemental at that stage, most definitely.

Thing is, no matter what the business may be (unless I find it immoral), you can’t hate on somebody pursuing success and expertise. Anybody that would try to bring down somebody pursuing a business is usually just doing so because it helps them convince themselves “Nobody can do that… that’s why I’m not doing it.”

It’s a safety measure for people to criticize others, that way they can continue with their own excuses not to pursue their own dreams.

Sad, but most often true.

The fact that your crew encouraged you after you told them about your endeavors means that they are legit, unless a business venture was really tearing somebody’s life apart, why would you ever tell them to stop pursuing what they want to do?

Just my 2 cents.

PS: Every good business person I’ve ever met was a “geek” when it came to their field, you can’t succeed without an abnormal passion.

Alex Mangini November 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

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Greg,

Great comment! I definitely feel that if I started in college, I would have fit right in and never worry about what other people thought. At least, I’d have an easier time explaining what I did (since most people stare at us blankly when we tell them what we do haha).

You have a great point, why would anyone hate on you for doing what you love? Why would you even care what anyone thinks anyway, especially if you’re happy? That’s something I think a lot of people miss. Hell, I know I did when I was younger.

See you around buddy.

Kian November 30, 2011 at 11:48 am

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Hey Alex,

Wonderful post and all the points so true. Doesn’t it just feel so good when you can just express yourself as you are and not have to hide something from the people close to you? The feelings even better when you can just be open about something that is your passion. I’m glad that you’ve opened up and can now reap the benefits. It’s amazing how we can hold something back thinking it’s going to be a big deal to others when really it’s not.

Okay, since we’re sharing here and being hones – sometimes I shower and get into my pyjamas at 4pm in the afternoon, then just chill around the house until bed time. Basically I’m ready for bed before most 5 year olds across the world. I don’t think this is a very good share as it’s not a secret talent of mine…. or maybe it is?

Alex Mangini November 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm

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It’s awesome, and after that experience, I like to think I’m a lot more open about my life.

Well let’s look at it like this…it takes a lot of self-discipline to want to end your day so early when there could still be things to do! That’s pure skill bro (really, sometimes I wish I could just relax like that). ;-)

Nicholas November 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm

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Hey Alex! I think it’s common for entrepreneurs not to tell people about what they do. I’ve thought about this a lot. And I think the reason is because our work is our life’s work. Normal folks don’t understand. So when you tell someone that you’re passionate about your work, they don’t get it.

Just yesterday I met my neighbor for the first time. She asked what I did and I told her my default, “I build websites.” I’m going to focus answering that question with what I’m passionate about rather than what I do for work.

Alex Mangini December 3, 2011 at 10:41 am

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Hey Nick,

Great input. I think another reason is that it’s hard to explain too! Seriously, I have the toughest time telling people what I do without raising eyebrows, haha.

I’m with you, I tell people I do “freelance web design and blog,” but when I sit down to do these things — that’s not how I’d explain it. I just need to find a great way to word it.

Ray November 30, 2011 at 11:55 pm

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Hey Alex,

Great read. It had to be an unbelievable release for you when you realized you could share the truth about your real passion. Definitely inspiring. thanks

Alex Mangini December 3, 2011 at 10:42 am

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Hey Ray,

It’s great, and I really, really wish I did sooner!

Thanks for stopping by man. :-)

Buntu Redempter December 1, 2011 at 1:11 am

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Alex, Do you think it’s possible to have multiple talents or too many passions?

Alex Mangini December 3, 2011 at 10:44 am

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Of course, you can be talented at a bunch of things. But passionate? I’m not sure.

I feel like it’s the same as having a favorite sports team and saying “I ONLY support ________ and no one else!” There’s just no room to have multiple passions, because if you did — then it’s just something you like.

Buntu Redempter December 3, 2011 at 6:36 pm

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Yeah, I think I have too many interests!

Debbie December 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm

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Love the story! When we become who we are truly meant to be that is when we find our happiness and bloom.

Life is about being and doing what we where put here to do. And you are very blessed to have learned this at a young age and had the courage to follow your heart.,
Blessing to you and thank you for sharing. You are and inspiration.
Debbie

Alex Mangini December 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

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Thanks Debbie, appreciate you stopping by! :-)

Life is too short to take things too seriously, so why hide who you are, right?

Thanks for the support as well, hope to see you around more!

Jimmy December 1, 2011 at 11:38 pm

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Hi Alex,

This is my first visit to your site.

Your story of your first set up was something similar to mine currently, except, that I want to make things public and let everyone that I know know about it but I can’t. My blog is my part time business and I am working for my government full time. Currently we do need the security of my job. There are strict rules to start businesses and things publicly. So I am threading water carefully.

But I can see, where you are coming from. Bottling our talent up is just not going to be helpful. Chances are people close to you will probably be the best people to make your business fly. Hence, I am actively moving away from my job to let this thing fly.

Cheers

Alex Mangini December 3, 2011 at 10:47 am

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Welcome then, Jimmy! Hope you like it here. :-D

Wait, question: your government has rules about starting a business publicly? Or just your boss?

Taking the plunge from employed to self-employed is definitely huge. I wish you the best of luck man, and if you ever want to talk about it — shoot me an email.

See you around. :-D

Ryan December 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm

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Hi Alex,
This is a great post. It points out great things to stop those self-limiting thoughts. To keep going, striving and build that burning desire to shift gears and get back to work. I’m really glad that you started your business ventures online. That’s where the market is and where the market will be shifting to in the future – my friend, if you keep going you’ll do well!
Until next time, adieu!
Ryan

Alex Mangini December 3, 2011 at 10:49 am

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Thanks Ryan! Welcome to Life Notion. :-)

I agree with you — it’s all about your desire. Without desire, where will you go?

The future is definitely online, and I love everything I do. Appreciate the support!

Sol December 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm

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Ah, the issue of passion!
It’s everywhere nowadays, isn’t it? I must admit, I’ve had a lot of fears in my life. Especially ones relating to education and money. My blog is my first ‘dive’ into the the world of Internetz and I’m enjoying it. I don’t know a lot about what to do, and I may lack the confidence, but I know that if I give it time.. I’ll succeed :)

I aim to make money from blogging, writing and my own services (that are a little ‘out there’ , hehe). Seeing how you’ve succeeded and how happy you look (at least from your picture), and seeing the hope and glimmering in your eyes.. well, they give me hope! Y’know what? I’ll shoot you an email!

Thanks!

Deeone December 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm

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Very awesome post, Alex!

I must admit, when I visited lifenotion for the first time on yesterday; I was majorly impressed that you were 18 and had done everything that I had read about you here. That is totally impressive and inspiring, man.

I don’t need to tell you that there are some who come up with all kinds of excuses as to why they can’t go after a passion of theirs. Here’s the thing though, I was actually one of them.

I wasn’t much into the whole school thing when I was coming up; to call a spade a spade, I sucked at it really. My life dramatics had gotten the best of me and I started my adult life like most people do; blaming other people for my troubles and my lack of enthusiasm.

Sadly, I wasted most of my twenties getting by doing that. I thought it was working… but it turned out that it wasn’t working at all. I made good and bad decisions, mostly bad, but whose keeping score.

My point is, when I was 18 finding my passion was the last thing I was thinking about. I don’t even think I even knew what passion was; I certainly didn’t know I had one.

I enjoyed writing, but I hadn’t seen anyone in my “network” at the time making a living writing.

So after years of living in denial that I had a clue, it took me losing my mother to actually tap into my passion. Even then I wasn’t going after my passion; I started writing and blogging to cope with my loss.

It did exactly what it was intended to do for me; it helped me cope. It also showed me that I was capable of going after my dream of becoming a writer. I told no one at first. I just wanted to write to sort out all of the stuff that was weighing me down, but when it started helping me sort out my own issues, as well as helping others; I knew that I had found my passion.

Everything you wrote about here has been my life for the last 9 months. I just want to learn as much as I can, and help as many as I can, by sharing my life experiences with others.

Today, I can honestly say I have embraced my inner talents, and man, let me tell you… I’m Rocking them out!! :D

Fred Tracy December 7, 2011 at 4:09 pm

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Cool man! Thanks a lot for the shout out too. :D

Hah, I’m not surprised that they were jealous and impressed. I was actually surprised that you chose not to tell them. Is blogging such a looked down upon thing?

For me, I tell everyone I know! The more readers I can get, the better, lol.

leather ipad case January 27, 2012 at 1:40 am

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To get in touch with your inner creativity, you must first admit that you have some. Creativity is often buried beneath the day to day stress of work and family. When you understand what your unique talent is, you’ll have a greater appreciation for what you have to offer the world. The majority of people in the world do not think that the secret to improvement lies in a deep understanding of their strengths.

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