One of my favourite Saturday morning activities is a stroll over the farmer’s market right around the corner – the smell, the noise, the bustling about. One thing in particular caught my eye last week. A young man of about 10 years knealing in a corner, strumming his tiny guitar, singing a few songs and gathering pennies in a hat.
What struck me was not his passion, but two adults standing a bit farther of. I was pretty close to them so I heard them murmur things like ‚Oh, that’s cute, but he isn’t very good.‘ or ‚He doesn’t really sing the lyrics correctly.‘
I was astonished by listening to them. We tend to expect perfection, because we are confronted by it in the radio, in television and especially on the internet and social media. But we forget that we all start out like that boy, trying to earn some extra money, sacrificing his saturday morning to practising and putting himself out there.
Talent is one thing. Determination another. Go and listen to early tapes of Ed Sheeran singing – it certainly isn’t what you would expect. Knowing this, I waited for the boy to end his song and went up to him. I gave him a few dimes, because that was everything I had on me and I told him to keep it up. To practice. I tried to encourage him, because I know many people won’t.
This is not about kindness but about trying to empower people to become the best version of themselves. Every person has a talent, but if people are not willing to invest ten seconds, a smile or a dime they might never get to the point where they can actually move something. We are, after all, social beings and need feedback from others. So, when you see someone with an instrument, dancing, painting or whatever: be honest and be kind. Don’t lie, saying something is perfect if it is not (yet). But do not refrain from encouraging others and yourself, too, to get better. Maybe one day this boy at the farmers market will be on TV and I will think ‚yup, I encouraged him as well‘. Maybe he will give up on it next week. But it was worth a try.