I was helping out at our local Mencap social club the other evening when one of the other helpers came up to me and said, out of the blue, "You know, it's like you were born to this," or words to that effect. I'd just been playing a spirited game of what a few of the members call Wizer -- a sort of Beggar-My-Neighbour for many, I guess, although I'm notoriously rubbish at card games.
It was a wonderful moment, particularly as I looked to a time when I wouldn't be able to volunteer with them. (Or anyone else. The tl;dr is that the visa I hope to get won't allow it.) It's the sort of thing I never imagined anyone saying about me; just the opposite, in fact: up until last year, I'd worked in IT for a few decades, visibly struggling in many of those jobs. Some of that was down to trying lots of different roles -- some tangential to even the most generous definitions of computer science -- but I also think a good chunk was down to aptitude.
That may come across as a bad attitude, but hear me out: I believe that this last year or so has been one of the best of my life, and that a lot of that is down to me; my attitude, my perspective. When I say that I think I was working at pursuits that didn't really suit me, it isn't through a prism of regret, lamenting time wasted. I suspect that I needed that time, and those experiences, to properly assess what's now before me. And while I'm not certain, that hardly matters; time flows in one direction. One thing I will say, though, is that I think anyone, at any time in their lives, can benefit from dabbling.
Aptitude is tough to pin down. Contemplation can help, but only up to a point. Then, it's a matter of diving in. And that may seem like the most obvious statement in the world, but, trust me, it's been a profound lesson for me (and could be for others with a similar personality, I suspect). You want to be able to hash it out in your head, and you just can't; not completely. And, for me, the best bit has been when, with that yet to learn, you put yourself out there, and, out of the blue, someone tells you that you just might've found it.
Final thought: aptitude isn't everything. And applying it doesn't preclude rough days. But what I can say, from recent experience, is that having someone else point it out regarding a pursuit that you find very rewarding is an amazing feeling.