Is Talent Always Accompanied By Eccentricity?
by Ernest Armah
Back in secondary school, I had this exceptionally brilliant friend who was my
senior. We represented our school in several debates. We disagreed a lot but still got along well, to some extent. His attitude incensed me but he thought I was making mountains out of molehills. He would get himself into unnecessary fights and suffer suspension from school. He would go round, narrating in dramatic style ‘locusts plaguing’ his family. He would without any provocation damage a school property. Just for the fun of it. His academic records weren’t flying; not because he was dumb but for the simple reason that he doesn’t care. Yet when we mount the platform to debate other schools, as a supporting speaker to him, I am awe-struck by the soundness of his logic and the confidence in his voice.
Now, I think of all the people celebrated in the world for their talent; From Michael Jackson to Whitney Houston, Virginia Woolf to Ernest Hemingway, Tim Patch to Millie Brown, Mario Balotelli to Sulley Ali Muntari, to mention a few. What do these people have in common? Eccentricity.
So are talented people strange? If so, what makes them strange?
The undoing of talented persons lie in their exceptionality. Talented people are known to attempt things; take risks, embrace seemingly insurmountable challenges ‘ordinary’ people would not do. Sometimes they pursue their vocations for the love, fun and thrill of it. But sometimes the aggressiveness of the pursuit and self-isolation in the process strips them of the social bond they need. Along the line, stress builds up which usually culminates into depression.
The extroverted types displace (transfer the stress/depression to something else) in several self-destructive ways such as binge eating, alcoholism, drug abuse, unsafe sex, self-incisions, physical violence and other high-risk behaviors. The introverted ones store the stress within increasing their chances of suicide.
Sometimes the eccentricity is induced by a grandeur delusional crave to stay relevant in the media.
It is not really difficult to figure out what makes talented persons strange. The meat of the matter lies in the life adjustment choices they make and/or is made for them. What coping resources are made available to them while ascending the ladder of recognition? What arrangements are made in the family to accommodate children with exceptional talent?
The manifestation of talent is important. The management of talent is equally important.