I started playing the piano at the age of five. I grew up listening to my mother play hymns and musical theater numbers, and so I was destined to do the same. I took lessons from the same teacher my mother had, continuing a legacy of music. I wasn't like my friends who took piano lessons for two years and then moved on to something else. I competed in hymn festivals, solo festivals, theory competitions and talent concerts. I won awards and high ratings for most of them. (Here is video proof if you don't believe me.) I loved it for thirteen years.
Then, my sophomore year, I went through a rough period in my personal life. I lost interest in practicing, and soon after, performing. When my family and I moved overseas during my junior year, I stopped training altogether.
I am now in my sophomore year of college, and while I still enjoy music as a dance major, I have not consistently played the piano since I quit training. Every once in a while I'll take a few hours and sit down with a sonatina to see if I can still recognize the melodies or the format, but nothing beyond that. Today, someone asked me to play "Happy Birthday" for our Music Fundamentals professor. I could see in my head what chords should be played, but when I went to translate that into my fingers, it came out all wrong. I couldn't find the chord progressions and the harmonies were atrocious. All of the people in that room knew that I had come from a classically trained background, and I had just completely embarrassed myself. I felt like I would never hold any validity as a musical person again.
After taking a few moments to breathe and discontinue my self-loathing, I thought about the way I was treating myself.
I would never be this hard on anyone else about messing up. So, I began to talk to myself the way I would talk to a good friend.
"You have not played piano for quite some time. It's normal that you wouldn't be great at it right now."
"If you want to re-explore this talent that you do still have, you can! But you don't have to. It's up to you."
"You still have a musical background that serves you well to this day in other ways than concert piano. That matters!"
I would extend this self-advice to anyone else who has a rusty talent in their closet. You are still smart, talented, and all those wonderful things you were before you stopped. You are still valid. Perhaps your talent does not serve you in the same way that it used to, but I can guarantee that it has shaped you into the person you are today. We all go through different seasons of life that change what we are good at or what we are interested in, so there is no reason to feel shame or sadness over it. Pick it back up if you want to, and if you don't, find something else you enjoy more! Life would be super boring if we did the same thing for 80+ years anyway.