Some Gifts Are Not So Obvious

Virginia Tech security just taught me a life lesson this week, but probably not the one you would expect!

Every week, two times a week, we have class at the Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center. Hamish and I always make it a point to say hi and get to know the security guards or custodians when we walk in. Not only does it make these hard workers feel valued, it sets a positive tone in your own day and the world around you.

One of the security guards at the front door is named Christian and he gives us fist bumps each time we come in and leave. Last week, I was running late, but as I came in, something urged me to find out more about him and spend the extra minute getting to know him better. What I found out blew me away!

Christian is an AMAZING artist! He is obsessed with drawing animals, comic book-style characters, people, you name it. All I did was ask him, “What’s your thing? What are you good at?” Then he pulled out this booklet of drawings from his pocket, highly professional, detailed, and I could see in between the pencil strokes, the passion he held for drawing. The fact that he had this booklet in his pocket and with him at all times showed me right away how serious he was about it.

That night, I asked if he could draw a falcon for our school since it’s our mascot. He told me he would, but I wasn’t sure. People say they’ll do stuff like that all the time. But then I came into class yesterday and he pulls out this drawing for me just like he said he would! What?! Outstanding!


Not only did he do an excellent job, but he KEPT HIS WORD! He took it seriously. He put the effort in on his own time and brought it back for me. I could tell that he enjoyed making it, enjoyed giving it to me, and enjoyed sharing his passion with others. You can see how proud he is in our selfie together.

This just reinforces for me this same mindset about our students. All of our students have gifts. Some of those gifts are obvious and everybody knows them. Academics, leadership, music, sports, etc. are gifts that are very exterior and easily apparent. Some of our students’ gifts are worn on their sleeves and help them get many compliments. Some gifts, though, are not so obvious. Like being an artist, drawing and creating. Most of this type of work is done when no one else is around.

The thing is, if I never would have asked more about his personal life, I never would have found out this hidden talent. I would have walked by EVERY DAY FOR YEARS and just said hi.

I now feel very humbled. Who else around me have these hidden talents and lives that I don’t know anything about? Which of my students have these talents that no one knows about? How many of us really, truly dig deeper than face value to find out more about our students’ passions and interests? I know we never have time, but do we even really, truly care? If we do care, will we make the time?

Tough questions and maybe you will be bold enough to answer them for yourself. Some gifts are not so obvious. Are you looking for them?