I've had a number of discussions with friends and family about what talent is. People tell me that I have a talent for drawing, but I don't think I've ever really felt talented. I mean, it's not like I was born being able to draw. I recently went through some old sketchbooks and college notebooks, and let me tell you, I was deeply embarrassed. I was embarrassed by the quality of the work, the content, the style, the methods I used. I look at some stuff from 2010 and I think, "Oh my Lord, what was I doing? All of these people look like noodles!" Going further back, I see a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog fanart, and I ask myself what I found so compelling, seeing as I never really liked Sonic the Hedgehog to begin with, except the bit in Sonic Adventure 2 where there was a space station and lab experiments and the possibility of many sordid things that the player didn't get to hear about because they were busy following the badly-acted and awkwardly-animated exploits of Brooding-Troubled-Loner Egotist and Desperately-Trying-To-Be-Cool Egotist. But I admit, I drew fanart. I drew a lot of it-- Sonic, Doctor Who, The Lord of the Rings, The X-Men, the whole nine yards. This was important, though it was an awkward and embarrassing time that I might call artistic puberty if I didn't think it sounded kind of gross. It taught me different drawing styles, gave me something which I thought was character creation but was actually practice for drawing people.
This, I think, is what talent is. My "talent" for drawing is not the ability to draw; it's the will or the drive to draw, even when it's embarrassing, when it's terrible, even when I ought to be doing something else. It's the desire to keep practicing. Anyone can draw well. It's not hard to train the muscles to do so. What's makes one person's "talents" different from another's is not their ability to do a thing, but their desire to do it. I have no musical talent, or so I tell people, but in truth I just don't get much satisfaction for performing, practicing, or theorizing about sound. I have no talent for programming, or so I say, but I have made programs and if that gave me some significant satisfaction, I would have kept on doing it and become a programmer. I often say I have no talent for math, but I teach it, and with a little effort I can manage to not embarrass myself, but I don't really enjoy it and I try to find ways to make it take less time. But I do enjoy drawing. Nowadays, I often feel less embarrassed when look at something I drew. It's finally become something of a skill, although I still think I have a long way to go before I'm really happy with the results.
That's my point, really. Maybe talent is just the drive to practice something. I'm not even convinced that you're born with it. I wonder what would have happened if my parents and grandparents had not encouraged me to draw, keeping crayons and paper and glitter around so that they could do their Important Adult Things without me pestering them. Maybe I'd still enjoy drawing. But I think I probably would be even less inclined to show the results than I am now. It's just a thing I do for my own satisfaction. And maybe that, at heart, is what talent is: it's what you call it when doing something gives you some kind of satisfaction. Sometimes, it leads to actual skill.