Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Gifted and Misunderstood

45 Comments

photo courtesy pixabay CC

photo courtesy pixabay CC

How are you misunderstood? Let me count the ways.

People tell you to lighten up when you’re just trying to enlighten them.

People tell you to stop being so critical when you’re just making careful, thoughtful and thorough observations.

People tell you that you need to stop overthinking when you haven’t even begun to truly analyze the situation.

People tell you that you’re arrogant when you’re just desperate to find someone who can discuss the philosophy of William James. Doesn’t everyone love William James?

People tell you that you don’t know how to have fun when you’re having a ball reading Tolstoy.

People tell you to slow down when you’re already going at a painfully plodding pace.

People tell you that you’re OCD when you’ve painted your living room 12 times in the last 3 years, but you discern the difference between white, off-white, and off-off-white. And, you’re distressed when the color isn’t right.

People tell you that you’re lazy when you’re actually choreographing complicated mathematical equations in your head.

People tell you to stop daydreaming when you’re actually mentally entertaining yourself because the intellectual stimulation in the room is less than negligible.

People tell you to just write the darned e-mail but you have to get the punctuation, grammar and tone exactly exact.

People tell you to stop repeating yourself but you’re just trying to be sure that they understand what you’ve said; to be sure that they understand. What you’ve said.

People tell you to pick one career and stick with it but you can’t stand a job once you’ve mastered it. Why would anyone stay in a job that no longer teaches them anything?

People tell you to pick one career and stick with it but you have too many interests and abilities so you have to get to at least 42 of them before you die.

People tell you to just make a decision already but you’re considering all of the possibilities and the variables within each possibility.

People tell you to stop being so sensitive, so dramatic, and so emotional but you’ve been looking for the off button for years and have finally determined that there is no off button.

 

Maybe, many of “the people” will continue to misunderstand you. But, that’s OK.

Because now, you understand yourself.

________________________

To my bloggEEs: In what ways have you been misunderstood? Let us know in the comments. And if someone you love misunderstands you, share this post (and others) with him/her, and use it as a way to start the conversation.

And speaking of being misunderstood, I’m getting a little nervous since I haven’t heard from many of you about my webinar. (the last post) I suspect that, because it’s an hour and 20 minutes long, you’re waiting to find enough time to savor the full-on experience of, well, me. Ha! But, if you’re unhappy with something in the webinar post, I promise, I want to hear it. OK?

 

 

 

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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.

45 thoughts on “Gifted and Misunderstood

  1. People tell you that you’re intimidating. Moi? I’m just a pussycat. Well ok, maybe sabre tooth tabby is closer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Why do people have to be so offended just because I’m faster than every other person on the planet. I slow down to a crawl and they say I’m still too fast for them.

    Once, I worked at a factory. The union foreman sat me down and told me that I had to slow down because it made everybody else look bad. So I slowed my work down until I was producing twice what the next closest person produced. But I just couldn’t go any slower. (I think I was at 3-to-5 times the next fastest person before the conversation).

    When I joined my novel group, most of the members hadn’t produced a single book in five years. In my first year, I produced three novels and have started on my fourth. The people in my group got very angry at me and very critical of my work. It was not difficult to read between the lines–they felt intimidated, although competition was the furthest thing from my mind. I eventually had to leave and find somebody else to work with. I got tired of being verbally shredded.

    Whenever people try to keep up with me, they quickly get frustrated. I hate competitive people, and I don’t do whatever I’m doing to be competitive. I just operate at a pace that is comfortable to me. But others seem to get highly offended at my pace, and look for ways to belittle or invalidate me.

    Why? Our society teaches children that they need to wake up in the morning and look for somebody to beat. Unfortunately, the guy who does everything fast tends to draw unwanted attention in this area.

    Can’t we all just get along? I’m not looking to beat others at anything. Why does my normal pace draw the ire of others?

    And yeah, If I could just find that darned emotions switch…

    Thanks Paula. It is so wonderful to know that there are other people out there like me. I’m not insane, I’m just different. And that’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think most has to do with insecurity, they feel “threatened” by your abilities, for example that factory job you had. It’s the same as when I was at school. I kept back because if I did too much, or performed out of the norm, people might pick on me. I did not want to be treated like someone special, that would cause me to be ignored by my classmates and no kid wants that. I was even behind on certain topics because of this behavior, which when I look back at it now, was ridiculous. After Elementary school I decided to go for it and guess what, the very thing happened that i tried to avoid by acting the way I did in elementary school. I was picked on and during that time I was 17! Imagine that. It was not because they did not like me, it was because I did better in class, way better, than them. Because I often had the answers before the teachers gave them. In other words I did pretty good and in this society doing “pretty good” is seen as being cocky or arrogant sadly. Or so it felt to me back then, it still does sometimes. My advice to you is not to hold back, ever!

      Liked by 1 person

    • More unvarnished and straight from the heart truth that resonates so true for me, and I imagine many others. Having bright children is for me, a daily reminder that being “weird” “different” or out of sync with main stream thinking and pace, and very different are to be embraced. Doing or saying things faster, with more thought and preparation, or simply being conscientious are all gifts the world is starving for. I’ll admit it isn’t easy, but when you get down to it, this uncomfortable place is where innovation is born. We may not share our innovative discoveries until they’ve been honed and whittled just right. Again, this takes time, thought, persistence and all the other attributes that many find annoying, yet are necessary to do things well. When my daughter is home from camp I intend to watch the Webinar again. Not only to glean more of your insight Paula, but to share the conversation with someone who will also benefit and enjoy open in-depth conversation about the “g” word!

      I just love how real these posts are, and appreciate that you have insecurities Paula, just like the rest of us! What’s more you share them, which for me is probably the best part. I can totally understand why you’d feel nervous after an endeavor like your most recent Webinar. From my point of view, what you do best is model realness for all of us and help us to remember that our vulnerabilities are our best tools for learning and expanding new worthwhile ideas. I know. Ouch….they can be so uncomfortable, but community like this helps SO much!

      I also really relate to how hard it is to wait for feedback. 🙂 I loved the Webinar, and once again the realness of the conversation.

      It’s so fantastic to see how your work and the work of others is having some real traction in deepening understanding and acceptance of unusually bright people of all sorts. Paula, you are simply a jewel in the gifted community, and I’m so grateful that this conversant world is opening up in safety and understanding for me and so many others. Yeah!

      The book? I am totally enjoying it in slow, languorous, cozy sessions with my journal, a cup of tea, and my little dog. I love to go fast, too, but am finding that I need time to digest the plethora of resources, some new ideas, and simply relish in imagined conversations about…..? I’d love to share some thoughts about that, too, but that’s fodder for another posting! Maybe you’ll share about the writing process?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you so much, agingpotential! I appreciate everything you say here. You’ve calmed my anxiety! I look forward to hearing what else you have to say. About the book? What is it you’d like? A post about my writing of the book??

        Like

    • That’s Me: I think people just don’t understand that you run naturally at that high speed and that you’re not purposely competing or trying to “show off.” It’s so frustrating and very hard to explain. Interesting, of course, if you were an athlete, outrunning everyone, then you’d be admired!

      You are not insane! You have a rainforest mind!

      Like

  3. This touched my heart. I find your blog so healing. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is all very recognizable. Most of the time I feel like I have to try to fit in and feel like people are annoyed because they think I portray to be a mr. know it all. But I really am not trying to look like that, it’s just who I am.

    It’s in my nature to question things, trying to get to know the reason or meaning behind them, why I (have to) do them etc. Just as you said with that example of an email, trying to get everything straight before I do something, wanting to know the what if and why 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If I was independently wealthy, then merely understanding myself would be enough. “Don’t understand me? Deal with it! I think I’ll go mountain climbing today. Or maybe I’ll go take some harp lessons instead. Toodles!”

    Unfortunately you can’t pay the rent with self-awareness. And being nonchalant about the silly rules and limitations others are happy to live by only makes survival that much more difficult.

    Because teachers, employers, coworkers, and often even friends and family expect the gifted to show a certain amount of submissiveness to the unwritten rules and imposed hierarchies of society no matter how absurd they may be, or the support of the group is withdrawn.

    PS I watched some of the webinar and will watch the rest soon. You seem even kinder and warmer on camera than you do in print Paula. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark, I wonder if there’s a way to understand yourself and accept yourself while being strategic about following some of the rules that are necessary for living safely or comfortably in the world. Like inside yourself you can say, “Don’t understand me? Deal with it.” and then you do what you have to do but your inner self is strong and self-confident. Does that make sense?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes it makes sense. Despite my anti-authoritarianism — which FYI merely means I do not automatically accept or acknowledge authority, especially if its legitimacy is at all in question — I am not a naturally confrontational person. I am more apt to go out of my way to avoid conflict, and so I learned at an early age that suppressing my inner instincts (including my bulls**t radar), is a useful strategy.

        However, as mentioned in comments above sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid conflict, especially when other peoples’ jealousy, fears and insecurities are involved.

        For example, here’s another story: Back in my teen sporting days I was a talented “up-and-comer”. As a “multipotentialite”, sports was never my sole interest, I also loved art and music among other interests. Around the age of 16 I got into the exciting world of punk rock music, and while I didn’t exactly advertise it by walking around with leather and studs and a giant mohawk, (I think the most extreme look I ever had was wearing punk band tshirts and shorter — at least for those days — than average hair), nevertheless I attracted unwanted attention from some of the uber-conservative people within the sport.

        One day the head coach from the regional team (which you had to make before the ultimate goal of moving on to the national team), came up to me as I watched from the side of the course and just started to rip into me, despite the fact we had never spoken to each other before. “You think you’re so cool! You may think you have everyone else fooled but I know you are a giant fraud. As long as I am coach you will never make the team!” And without even allowing me a chance to defend myself he moved on. The cruelty was crushing, especially because I know he mistook my quietness for arrogance. That day my dream of becoming a professional athlete was officially over.

        So that is how being misunderstood can be damaging, and how we sometimes have no control over how people are going to treat us or judge us.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the example Mark. So sorry you went through that and so many other experiences of being misunderstood.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thanks. And I am sorry if I sound pessimistic or defeatist, because I am trying not to be. I think it is better to acknowledge a problem exists rather than to dismiss it and hope it somehow resolves itself.

            I grew up going to Catholic schools in one of the most conservative places in North America, so I know a thing or two about authoritarianism, pressures to conform, and the necessity of learning how to hide in plain sight if you are different.

            But no matter how hard you try to fit in, there will be times when someone notices you don’t. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  6. It is totally finding the chunk of time to watch the webinar. I promise to give you feedback when I do. … it will probably be September after the kids are in school.
    I hear crickets chipping after I say things in conversations with people sometimes I try to follow with self deprecating humor to relax whomever I am speaking with and make the puzzled look and head tilt disappear.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. People misinterpret your authentic expressions of love, enthusiasm, and commitment (friends as well as colleagues or lovers) because they don’t understand your ability to perceive them fully and deeply and assume you can’t hold space for their entirety.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I feel like I need to send this post to everyone I meet & know so I don’t have to keep on (or begin) explaining myself; used as their warning for what they’re getting into with me lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved that you said, in quotes, “the people”—because pondering who “the people” are has been one of my greatest therapies! Somehow realizing that “the people” don’t have anything any more figured out than I do deprived them of the power to issue edicts on the usefulness (or lack thereof) of my unique ways! It is great to demystify “the people”–the sting of being misunderstood is somehow calmed when I realize that both myself and my critic are, to quote Pink Floyd, “just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl…day after day….” (I’m really not that pessimistic–I think it’s a great fish bowl and I don’t feel “lost”, really, just mystified by the immensity, but I do love that song.) My experience of swimming just has a lot more sensory data attached to it than my critic’s. He just hasn’t done the research!
    But here’s the more poignant thing as I take the next step into “completely vulnerable” here in this cyber community. When I immediately became excited and wanted to comment, even here I felt the familiar check on my inspiration from my inner self-management: “Perrianne, watch it now. you’re new to this blog community. You might be over-doing it. Don’t look too eager! Show that you can hold back and not need to tell everyone every thought you have! After all, you don’t want to wear out your welcome so soon. Save your “too muchness” for later and safer times. Don’t come on too strong!”
    It surprised me that the voice of “the people” could extend even to this spot which, as I understand it, is intended to be a safe place far away from the voice of “the people”! Powerful beings we are in these webs we weave! In response to these misgivings, I did what I have learned to do best: LAUGH at the humor of it all…and…..have the courage to post anyway, realizing that actually being in the discussion is more important than being understood! (She resists the desire to add a smiley-face here, though she feels it, because she fears that is probably way too pedestrian for this community…and might be misunderstood! ha ha) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, Perrianne!! Be eager!! I’ve wondered about the smiley-face and heart emoticons myself and have thought, “Hm, maybe I need to look more sophisticated…yada yada yada.” But when I don’t feel like I communicate well enough with words, the emoticon helps. So often I want to send love to my bloggEEs. Then I think, “Oh dear. Can’t send too many hearts…” So, you can join us with your questions and hesitations. And we can all have some humor about ourselves. And post anyway. Chances are, everyone is still limiting what they’re writing just because in some ways that makes sense in a forum like this, just in the interest of space and time. So it’s also realistic. After all, you have SO MUCH to say and share. It really might be impossible to write everything. But I hope you feel welcome and free to share some of who you are. I’m guessing that, as you read the comments, you see how valuable they are and how you learn as much from them as from the post.

      Like

    • Your post seems so authentic and honest Perrianne, I hope I can find such a voice in myself in times to come.

      Like

  10. Both my parents, brother, son and me have all been told we’re ‘too’ something, we overthink, overly sensitive, fast, all of it.

    It never hurt me until I was 26 and a friend shredded me with a couple sentences about how me and my family always think too much, gawd! she said, I can’t stand it! I asked her then she insisted on being around us, why date my brother then and hang out with me? She was laughing but it cut to the bone. She is artistically and musically gifted and herself misunderstood by others. That same evening she took issue with me about quite frequently sitting with a notebook, writing and doodling after or before an open mic performance or in places she would take me too to hang out. I tried to explain it’s because I don’t do small chat in a noisy room and would rather hear the music and doodle in between than force myself to be the socialite she thought I should be. She’s an extrovert, I’m not. I tried to explain that too but she didn’t want to hear it and claimed I was just a mopey misfit who would never have any real friends. That was the beginning of the end of that friendship because she wasn’t a real friend. I already them.

    And, there was a webinar?!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve started watching the video and it’s lovely to see you in person.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for this post. The description feels so relevant, though this also makes me fear I’ll never be able to change myself or make things right. Difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul. It may not be about changing yourself; may be more about accepting yourself and understanding your rainforest traits. Then finding other rainforest folks who understand you and are more like you. If you feel more self-acceptance, you can adapt or be flexible when needed. You can feel more compassion for yourself and others. And things will get easier.

      Like

  13. Wow. As usual, you have nailed it. My eyes are full of tears. When I was pregnant with my first child we had recently moved across the country. I had one friend, no job and lots of time on my hands. I spent my time going to yoga, reading War and Peace and watching Gilmore Girls reruns. It was bliss. War and Peace is my favorite book, it gets so deep into the psychology of the characters as they struggle with conflict. But I can never tell anyone that! It would sound so pompous. My husband let me name our second child after William James’ little brother…another of my very favorite authors. Thank you so much for your blog. You really make me feel loved and understood even though I’ve never met you and I’m sure I never will. I promise to view your webinar soon. I’ve been meaning to, but it’s been a busy summer with the kids out of school.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sarah. I have to smile at your connections to Tolstoy and William James! Wow. A little bit of synchronicity! I’m so glad my blog helps you feel loved. No rush with the webinar. It’ll be there when you have the time.

      Like

  14. There is a webinar?! As soon as I am back from vacation I will listen! Awesome! I am retreating from the world with my family this week, very limited access to the Internet. Time to go to the beach!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. To escape being called pushy and over smart I pretend to be a stupid many a times. I am considered show off in my kids parents circle and over thinking in my friends and family circle. This pretending of cool is not an easy task to do and I see my son growing up with similar traits, don’t know whether to be worried or feel blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

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