Cambridge’s Got Talent

Amelia Oakley 29 May 2015

Contrary to the hypnotising dogs, ladies singing about crumble and dancing grannys that grace our television screens on a Saturday night, Britain does undoubtedly have talent. More so, Cambridge being as it is, housing the best of the best, has   undoubtedly an in-proportionate amount of talent for such a small place and population.

Talent refers to our innate predisposition to be good at something. More often than not though, it seems that our talents can only be expressed if given the chance; if our childhood lives don't facilitate for their emergence and development then they may go unnoticed and never realised. It's a bit like food allergies; everyone is allergic to something but the likelihood is that you will ever come across it is rare . By the time then we get to our age, it has been figured out if you are talented at something, but if like me, you have had no such luck, it is unlikely that you will grow into having one.

Coming to Uni, I thought it would be a great chance to find my one true calling whether this be in ultimate frisbee, rowing or salsa dancing. During Freshers' week I was seduced to promises of 'no prior experience required' or chances to 'give it a go' and ended up signing up to so many mailing lists, my inbox was permanently full.  

My hopes weren't really realised however, and despite trying out various societies and activities, I found that firstly you could only pin your hat to one thing. It was as though it wasn't possible to be talented in many areas but rather you had to specialise quickly. This is understandable due to the time commitments of each club and hectic timetable of Cambridge, but made me feel quite constrained and unable to be an all rounder, doing lots of little rather than one intense thing all the time. Secondly, it seemed that you had to either be naturally talented at whatever it was you were doing, or get good very quickly to keep up with the pace of everyone else. Ultimately talent was both a requirement and outcome and I was lacking in both.

In 'real' life and at Cambridge, talents are often limited to sport and music. Nobody ever says they are talented at academics; if so the entire University would be on BGT. It seems as if there is an assumption that there is no nativist reason as to why some people are more clever than others, but that it is just down to how hard you work. Working, trying and improving at something are simply not synonymous with talent. You have to either have it or not.

I think it is necessary that we broaden how we view talent. It should cater for being skilled in areas away from sport or music, and encompass other things like being talented at kindness, talking or generosity. Perhaps being talented should be more about what we do, instead of what we do it in, and moreover that you can become talented in something without having to be blessed with it from birth.  

They say that a talent not exercised is a terrible waste; this may be referring to football players who have the potential to be world leading lecturers but I think that not recognising a talent as such, is just a great waste. We need to make talent shows constant; something that just happens without the need for a special time or place to show off. Life needs to become one big talent show with the judges ourselves, and the outcomes devoid of materialism or consumption.