On Secret Talents and Weird Party Tricks

My friend Khalid* has a secret talent. He waited years into our friendship to tell me about it, and with good reason. It’s not the kind of thing you can just casually say to anyone. His talent is this: When he meets people, he glimpses a scene from their recent past. As though he’s watching a movie. At a dinner party, he met one of my family members and their spouse, and described how they met, down to details like one of them was standing on a curb and the other was standing on the street. We were all impressed, especially because Khalid is a well-respected tech guy. (That’s tech guy, not tech bro. Ahem.) But in retrospect, it wasn’t much of a surprise: Khalid is also a deeply spiritual person who is on a lifelong search for self-improvement, wisdom, and ways in which to embody love. In other words, he’s familiar and comfortable with the mysterious ways in which life operates.

Truth? I was not just impressed; I was relieved. Later, I told him about my own secret talent, calling it “my weird party trick that no one wants to know about.”
Here’s what it is: I see people. Right into who they are. Right down to their core. Even if I don’t know them. Their loves, their fears, their pain points. What lights them up, what drags them down. What they’re made of. It was years before I understood that not everyone sees into people the way I do. For me it’s like noticing what color a bird is, or whether the person next to me is smiling: Simple, and usually instantaneous. And it didn’t take me too long to realize that it can look to others as though I’m making reckless snap judgments.

Which helped me as I developed some rules for dealing with this One Weird Trick™, because as you might imagine, I see a lot more than is comfortable for anyone. It’s their business, not my business. In my day-to-day life, I do my best to not look too closely at people. (Sort of like what you’d do if you accidentally walked in on your aunt changing, you know?) Whatever I do see, I am obligated to keep to myself, even — perhaps especially — when the person is someone I’m close to. Privacy and dignity are crucial components of healthy relationships, and I am fervently committed to both.

But! When people hire me, they’re hiring me to help their visions and ideas come to fruition, which requires that I truly see them. In which case it does actually become my business! That’s how I’m able to write in the voices of my clients, and it’s how I can easily visualize the best ways for them to show up online, in their business, and in life.

Can I back this up scientifically? Absolutely not. Is there a way to quantify it? Nope! I don’t know how it happens; I only know that it does. (I just work here, man.) And just to be clear: I don’t actually believe any of what I’m describing is weird. But other people typically do, so referring to it as such has been my rather pedestrian way of bridging any potential gaps, as it were. Lately, though, I find I’m tired of doing that. Tired of caveats and of the dissonance they create. It’s late in the day, you know? And as my grandpa would say, were he both alive and in my shoes, Con naiden ando quedando bien. (“I’m not trying to impress anyone.”)

So hey. What’s your party trick?
I very much want to know and celebrate it with you.

~ Emma

*name changed to protect the guilty

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