After thirty+ years hanging around with gifted kids and adults, first as a teacher, now as a counselor and consultant, I still stutter when I try to define g-g-giftedness.There’s so much confusion, complexity and controversy over what giftedness actually is. It’s pretty overwhelming.
I’m not going there.
Instead, I’m talking about it in terms of traits.
I dreamed up this analogy that describes a certain type of giftedness. The Rainforest Mind.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I’ll explain briefly. (Don’t want to bore the rest of you.) The rainforest mind type is intense, highly sensitive, extremely complex, smart, colorful, deep, lush, empathetic, analytical, creative, intuitive and misunderstood. In the rain forest, there’s so much vibrant life, so much impassioned activity. It can be overwhelming. Does this sound like you?
I thought so.
Granted, not all gifted folks are like this. Some aren’t as sensitive or empathetic. Some aren’t so creative or intuitive. Some don’t have multiple interests and abilities. But I’m not going to worry about them.
I’m just here for you.
Let me give you some examples from my counseling practice. (names changed, privacy respected)
Max, 16, couldn’t handle public school. Didn’t perform well in class due to time pressures, sensitivity, depth and anxiety about quality. Few friends. Massive concern for the well-being of other humans and for all animals and plants. Taught himself coding, guitar, bike building, music theory, blacksmithing, auto mechanics, piano, drawing, electronics, physics–basically anything he was interested in, which was a lot. A. Lot.
Susan, 53, deep appreciation for beauty. Incredibly perceptive about people and their needs. Ability to understand and synthesize complex concepts from anthropology, mythology, art, philosophy, feminism and much more. Great enthusiasm for life. Serious loneliness because her intellectual musings were not understood by peers. Felt urgency to take action to save the planet. In dialogue with redwood trees.
Roberto, 44, struggled in school to memorize multiplication facts, in and out of college for years without graduating. Extreme self-doubt. Emotional. Self-employed self-taught IT guru, soft-open-heart. Told he had too much zeal. Despairing about wasteful use of natural resources.
Maggie, 14, loved debating and chemistry. Wrote lengthy stories about mythological creatures when she was eight. Reading like a maniac at age 4. Thrilled by philosophy but told by teachers “no one likes a know-it-all.” Preferred mathematics to the mall. Lonely. Severely curious. Felt a spiritual connection to the ocean.
Carmen, 24, talked and thought at warp speed. Searched for a mentor but consistently disappointed. Had extremely high standards she never met, although others were in awe. Rejected repeatedly by friends who couldn’t keep up. Misunderstood by parents who wanted her to stay on one career path forever.
These are examples of humans I’ve known with rainforest minds. Humans who are gifted.
If you are one, remember:
Whatever you call it, don’t let the chainsaws cut you down.