Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Brainiacs, Bookworms and Geeks

16 Comments

Are you passionate about learning, reading and research and perplexed, perturbed and perspiring about schooling?

School can be challenging for someone with a rainforest mind. Maybe this describes you:

• In second grade, you completed the entire workbook in one night and your teacher got mad at you for working ahead.

• In fourth grade, you were dying to learn about fractals but couldn’t for the life of you remember your multiplication facts.

• You asked LOTS of questions.

• You never finished the multiple choice tests because you could explain how all of the answers could be correct.

• You were diagnosed ADHD because your daydreams about  the solar system were more fascinating than life in Room 10.

• You stopped doing homework because you didn’t see the point.

• You corrected the teacher’s spelling errors.

• You cried when another child was hurt on the playground.

• You worried about pesticides when the other kids worried about soccer.

• You didn’t turn in your assignments because they didn’t measure up to your standards.

If this describes you, take heart. You’re not a slacker or a freak. You have a rainforest mind.

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Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label "gifted" is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rain forest to describe this population. Like the rain forest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They're also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I've been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I've written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore.

16 thoughts on “Brainiacs, Bookworms and Geeks

  1. Yeah
    Im thinking this whole thing may be the track Im going down.

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  2. Your list brings back a lot of memories of what school was like for me… as a teenager using a correspondence course for homeschooling I talked my way out of ever having to write multiple choice tests that… as a child I drove teachers nuts with the corrections. Even now as an adult, its wonderful to read these sort of types of lists, see the characteristics in my children and remember that being gifted isn’t experienced as unblemished accomplishments but as feeling different and out of step.

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  3. Yes, being gifted can be quite challenging, Christy. It’s not just about achievements. There are quite a few complexities that many people don’t understand. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  4. Wow. Where were you when I needed you most- elementary, and, high school?

    My gift is one that keeps my scale of attributes balanced.

    I look forward to reading your blogs.

    Thank you, and thanks to SENG for making me aware you’re out here.

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    • I appreciate your comments, Anna. Yes, I, too, am grateful for SENG.org and all they do for gifted children and adults. I’d be interested in hearing how you keep your attributes balanced. Blog readers might find that helpful as well. Do you have a blog or can you write a response here?

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      • I don’t blog any longer. I get too exercised by injustice of any kind and I’m not to be politically correct when expressing myself. The F bomb seems like a kindergarten term when you compare it to things I’ve been known to saying when I’m angry.

        That being said, I now myself well and have accepted myself as I am. In doing so I know when someone’s evaluation of my behavior is accurate and when they’re the ones with the problem.

        I’m a critical thinker and very creative when it comes to solving problems. I can synthesize information fairly quickly, and can see weaknesses in theories as if my brain is programmed to do just that. I prefer work where I can express my ideas. I can spot an organizational problem and can find ways to become more efficient. And when I’m challenged to find a solution to a social problem, I don’t disappoint.

        I know what I know and I know what I don’t know. That means I tend not to commit to any one side so I give the appearance of walking the fence as a political maneuver. I guess that can make me appear politically savvy but that’s far from the truth. The truth is I feel stupid when I’ve not done my homework in order to present a logically sound argument.

        Before making up my mind I need to engage in research (pros and cons), visit various perspectives, and ask 50 million questions. Since I was in elementary school I always looked for that one question that would stump the teacher and make students question the lesson. I loved, loved, loved doing that. That little trait went with me to college. But I learned how to pass for the “ditzy blond” as to not offend my professors. I can understand why some ppl can’t or don’t appreciate that.

        When the time comes for me to make a decision, most of the time I don’t consider other ppl’s feelings. It’s not always because I don’t care. But that’s just not my primary concern. I care about getting to the truth, explaining what would constitute justice, and accomplishing my goal/getting my job done.

        I’m loving. But when hurt or angered, I can be cold or become indifferent.

        I’m helpful. But as soon as I notice someone is trying to sponge off me, I cut off the charity.

        I’m empathetic. But when being so drains me emotionally and renders me ineffective than I become emotionally invested. That can be a problem for those who need to see you care. I do care, but the facial expression is lost. I can still do my job, but appear “mechanical.”

        Being able to divorce my emotions while still understanding what the person experienced works for me in terms of not taking on extra stress, and warding off con artists wanting to work the system or those with a sense of entitlement.

        I’m courageous. But others not knowing that I might be nervous when I’m supposed to look nervous gives the impression that I’m cold, arrogant, or think I’m a badass.

        I’m witty. I hate to miss an opportunity to show my wit, especially if I Lmao in the process. I come across as being sexually crude or just crude. Normally I don’t care because I show my wit to my friends and children.

        I’m sort of a perfectionist. I’m critical of others as well. You can see how that’s a problem. But all I ask for is that ppl give 100%, no less. I’m only concerned about my grammar where it matters. I care more about substance. I don’t see the value of someone having impeccable grammar and they absolutely suck at critical thinking.

        I say “I’m” because most of the time I am those things. I can be my negative attributes but they are not who or what I am most of the time.

        Am I rude?
        Am I a bitch?
        Am I arrogant?
        Am I cold?
        Am I indifferent?
        Am I impatient?
        Am I a list of negative attributes?

        I’m none of those things per say, but I can be those things and then some.

        I’ve learned that in life most ppl don’t matter on an individual realm. People matter when it comes to taking about humanity as a whole. What most ppl think of me don’t matter until I find that they should matter. So what ppl have to say about me doesn’t really matter unless what they say can have a negative impact on something or someone I love.

        That means I tend to be alone, not lonely. I don’t play well with others. I don’t engage in social conventions simply to fit in. Whatever it is has to make sense to me. To get ppl to like me does not qualify as a good reason. To pass for normal doesn’t qualify either because being “normal” is overrated. Being “normal” means that you buy most if not all the BS the govt, the media, ppl in your community feed you. It means you were successfully socialized and accept the values you were taught in school, no questions asked. I rather stand alone and be right and follow that which is true, good, and right than follow the herd out of a need to belong and be accepted.

        We are socialized to believe that if we enjoy our own company and are not social beings…then something is wrong with us. The truth is the matter is that maybe something is wrong with how we are socialized to believe that people have a need to belong. That humans have a need to be accepted by others. That we should value what others think of us more than what we think of ourself.

        And that if we are gifted/talented then we’re the strange ones- and we kinda are but not aliens like society wants to make us feel. I believe that if we have been gifted with certain intellectual abilities or other great abilities then we should nurture them because just as we have been gifted great abilities, we have been gifted with our individual shortcoming(s). It is our shortcoming(s) that keep us humble.
        — Every gifted person who knows him/herself is probably aware that there’s (at least) that one weakness we have that we don’t share for some reason. And that too is OK. Why provide the ammo to be used against us by ppl who don’t know us?

        I can be a lot of bad things, yet I love everything about me because I’ve learned to accept myself as I am.

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  5. I am the parent of a struggling young adult in his mid twenties. I have three other children, but always knew he was different. In the last several months I have been reading whatever I can find about being gifted and it totally describes him. He recently graduated from college but can’t seem to figure out a job or career. He majored in biomedical science but also has a very creative side. In the last year he wrote a series of three adventure fantasy novels. He is very sensitive and feels emotions deeply. He has a need for fairness/justice and is often impatient with things that are superficial or foolish – which can come across as arrogance. For the last 10 years he has been to a variety of counselors as he deals with depression and loneliness. I want so much to help him but I’m not sure how. Our doctor has prescribed anti-depressants. But I think if he could talk to someone who understands the unique struggles of people like him that he would be helpful much more. I am trying to find a psychologist who understands gifted adults in our area (Phoenix) who can help him. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you so much.

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    • Hi Sandy. I have a couple of ideas. The organization SENG.org is starting a list of professionals around the country who have some knowledge of gifted issues. You can contact them to see the list. It ought to be posted on their website but it’s pretty new so you may have to e-mail and ask them about it. They also have webinars on different topics that might interest your son. (although not many on gifted adults yet) I did one recently on careers/work that he might find particularly helpful if he’s not sure of a direction. Also, the publisher of books on gifted children, Great Potential Press, is located in Tucson. They have a list of professionals on their website but you could call them to see who they might know in Phoenix. I hope this helps. Thanks for your note.

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      • Thank you, Paula. I did see a listing for the webinar you did recently on the SENG website and plan to suggest that to my son. I’ll also follow up with the other leads you gave. I really appreciate your help!

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  6. All the things you describe will be recognized by many gifted people, Paula!
    Often they cry when they read or hear about it. Often they have felt different from others all their life.
    I recognize them too and am so happy that I discovered about my being gifted. Although late in life, it is never too late to get to know yourself better.
    I now collect, describe and spread knowledge about gifted adults.
    The institute we founded (IHBV, Gifted Adults Institute) is in The Netherlands, but we translate many publications into English.
    Also the book I wrote for gifted adults is translated into English and is called ‘Gifted Workers’.

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    • Hi Noks. Yes, it’s never too late to understand that you’re gifted! I think people cry because they’ve been pathologizing their traits for years and suddenly they realize that they aren’t too sensitive or obsessive-compulsive or ADHD, or bipolar or a freak, they’re just gifted. What a relief. Yes? By the way, I’m finding that social media can be a good way to connect with people interested in your work. You might consider starting a blog if you want to get the word out about your book. Thank you for your comment.

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  7. Late to the party as usual, but I had to comment on this post. I broke down in tears with this.

    ~At the end of my second grade year, I transferred from a private school to a public school. I hated the third grade because it felt like such a slow repeat of the second grade.

    ~In the fourth and fifth grade, I was in GATE (Gifted and Talented Education), which took place every Wed after school. It became the absolute highlight of my week. It helped me get through all the ‘boring’ stuff in school. We were encouraged to become engaged, to openly discuss problems with each other, to work things out. Multiple solutions weren’t frowned upon, but encouraged. I miss those classes to this day.

    ~Through my entire school career, I made better friends with teachers than fellow students. My breaks would be spent takling about the lessons and I just found them more interesting and more worth-while to talk with. Some classes I would intentionally take a long time packing up my stuff just to have an excuse to talk with them longer. I also asked my parents a lot of questions. I remember one day when I was in the third grade, my ma and I were in the car and I was finally curious enough to start asking about the meaning of the different colors of curbs and the lines on the road and why she did this that and the other. By the time I was in driver’s ed my freshman year, I couldn’t believe how little other students knew. I thought every kid asked their parents those things.

    ~To this day there are times when I will drive myself crazy with multiple choice questions, like for job applications for example x.x I could go on and on about this one.

    ~Was never diagnosed with ADHD. I was a very introverted child growing up, though I was often scorned for being way too much a day dreamer.

    ~I excelled in tests and schoolwork, but homework was wretched redundancy for me. My high school grades suffered for this, and my senior year I had to go to an alternative high school.

    ~I was always way too introverted to even consider this, but I definitely took mental notes.

    ~I was an easy target for bullies, mainly because it would only take their words to break me down into tears. I also couldn’t stand seeing others hurt.

    ~Having my earliest school experiences from a private church and school, it was years before I was able to get over my childhood nightmare of Armageddon. I can remember many nights laying awake in bed wondering and worrying over which hand of God I’d wind up in, and if I’d be with my parents. Don’t know if this is the same thing though.

    ~The other major contributer to my suffering grades. The worst was essays and reports. Many-a papers weren’t turned in because they weren’t up to ~my~ standards. It didnt’ matter fi they were good enough for the assignment. They weren’t good enough for me. My writing continues to suffer for it. I’m strugglnig to find ways to just let go. To give myself permission for it to be subpar in my eyes. But it’s like a form of torture. I love to write. I have a vivid imagination and ideas to share. Yet it’s like a form of torture some days. I recently managed to get a short story published in a non-for-profit anthology, but I can’t tell you how many headaches and heartaches and just how painful of an experience it was. Even now, a couple of months after the story has been turned in, my mind adds to a laundry list of things I could have expanded on more, things I could have worded better, things I could have been more consistant about. Yet I haven’t so much as looked at the material since I first sent it off, in hopes of ~not~ putting myself through this x.x

    Sorry for the rambles on an old article x.x When you spend your life feeling like you’re the only fruit cocktail around, while everyone else is a solid fruit, there are so many emotions that surface once you learn you’re not alone.

    Once more, thank you for these blogs. So much.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Lonely? | Your Rainforest Mind

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