Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just Weird


photo courtesy of Eugenio Mazzone, Unsplash

You’d think that gifted people would know how smart they are. You’d think that gifted individuals would find life to be smooth and easy. You’d think that gifted folks would feel superior and judgmental of all non-gifted humans everywhere.

Nope. No way. Not the ones I know. And I’ve known a lot of them. I’m that old. (My former middle school students are turning 50. Yeah. Old. OK. Old-ish.)

Granted, I work with a particular variety of gifted souls. The rainforest-minded (RFM). Not all gifted folks are the RFM type. Some can be cognitively advanced but not highly sensitive or empathetic. Some can be very academic and scholarly, but not have multipotentiality. So, yes. Maybe some of the non-RFM-gifted know how smart they are, find life to be easy, and are judgmental. Maybe.

But, they weren’t in my classroom when I was a teacher in the mid-’70s and ’80s. They haven’t been in my counseling office for the past 25+ years. The RFMs I’ve known will tell you:ย I’m not gifted. I’m just weird. And they will struggle. With: Sensitivities. Injustice. Decisions. Choices. Achievement. School. Relationships. Communication. Emotions. Careers. Belonging. Parenting. Anxiety. Depression. Perfectionism. Guilt. Politics. Climate change deniers. Conspicuous consumption. Not enough time to read all of the books ever written.

And that’s if they grew up in a healthy family.

If you throw dysfunctional family into the mix, it gets even more complicated. I’ve written about that here and here. With more to come.

So, if you have a rainforest mind or if you love someone who does or if you work with them or teach them, it’s time to get out of denial.

It matters.


It matters because everyone will benefit if our rainforest-minded humans understand why they struggle and what to do about it. It matters because RFMs are raising RFM kids. If the parents know who they are, they’ll be better able to support their children. It matters because educators, psychotherapists, doctors and other professionals will stop misdiagnosing their clients and will be more effective practitioners.

It matters because we all need the intelligence, compassion, creativity, and sensitivity that our rainforest-minded beings share with us. Like we all need our tropical rain forests.

We won’t survive without them.

We won’t survive without you.


To my bloggEEs: Do you recognize your giftedness? How do you struggle? Have you just felt weird much of your life? What would it be like if you accepted yourself as a gifted soul? Thank you, as always, for being here.


Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist and consultant 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 rainforest to describe this population. Like the rainforest, 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 first 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. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists, was released in June 2019.

132 thoughts on “I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just Weird

  1. But isn’t it bragging to say gifted? What about the fact that I didn’t get straight A’s in school? Or that I don’t have this high paying job? Isn’t it bragging to say that I’m empathetic? My husband is watching the new Ken Burns documentary about Vietnam, so every night I’m thinking how horrific are the things that humans do to other humans. I’ve accepted that I’m different, but I still don’t understand why the world keeps rejecting us. WHY do I have to be so different?!!

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    • It’s not bragging. It’s just true. Of course, gloating is not recommended. What I suggest is that you need to know it in yourself more than tell others, per se. You can talk about your struggles without even labelling it giftedness, if that helps. You can talk about having empathy without bragging. It all could depend on how you do it. But, it’s mostly about knowing within yourself that you have a rainforest mind and what that means. And finding others like you, so you feel less alone.

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      • I figure it’s okay on my personal blog. If strangers read it and get offended and think I’m being elitist, well – they chose to read my blog. It’s not like I went up to them and just started talking about being gifted at them out of nowhere.

        I also think it’s okay in online spaces dedicated to giftedness. And people pipe up in the comments on articles about it like “Oh, look at all the geniuses here in the comments”, but why would you seek out and comment on articles about giftedness if you’re not gifted?

        I figure it’s about context. I don’t go up to strangers or acquaintances and just start talking about it, but no one has to read my blog. I don’t interject it in discussions where it’s not relevant, but it’s okay to talk about it in spaces meant for it, like this blog and gifted forums and things. If people go and read those discussions and blogs and get offended and think we’re elitist, well, the internet is very large and they’re free to go find something else that they’ll enjoy looking at.

        Err, sorry – I have Opinions, lol. And a very rainforesty mind. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  2. Perfect. We won’t survive without US. Thank you Paula. It’s time….for what I’m not sure. But it’s time…

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    • Maybe time for radical self-acceptance. Time to become our authentic Self and step into our true work in the world!

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      • OMG I hope I can do this. I am SO RFM it isn’t funny. I struggle everyday with feeling guilty about conspicuous consumption, I go around and around in my head about my (also RFM) gifted son and if I need to have him accelerated in school or if I should homeschool and if he’s on the right soccer team and if I’m pushing him too hard or not enough or if I’m being to strict or not strict enough and if “screen time” is rotting his brain and what if he hates me for letting him rot his brain and on and on and on…I WISH I could just let go of what I think I’m “supposed” to do and let myself just BE me. Sometimes I can get to that state of flow, but those moments are hard to come by and I see the same struggle in my son. We both overthink everything to death (and then I overthink his overthinking). I wish I could turn my brain off sometimes. I just want it to HUSH. And yeah, I want to read ALL the books, too. Oh my. I really love this blog. It makes me feel less weird. Thank you.

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  3. I always knew that I was smarter than many people around me, but growing up, I had the thought that gifted meant being a child prodigy like Mozart or someone who made it to college at 14. I was never specially stimulated either at school or at home, but I was given some space to explore my interests and my reading level was always 3 or 4 years above my chronological age. That was the good and fun part.
    As for the weirdness… It was only recently that I have been able to understand it and accept it a bit more. I never thought of it as the not-so-welcome part of the giftedness package. I thought it was a separate thing. I was a very smart girl who happened to be a little crazy. And I had deep-seated shame and even hatred for myself for that, and there were huge parts of myself that I wouldn’t dare to confess to anyone. Now I get it. A lot of the overwhelm I experience, the oversensitivity to certain stimuli which may trigger overreactions is just how I’m wired. Blame neurology, not neurosis. That was a relief for me. Knowing where this comes from gives me better tools to manage my OEs.

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  4. I was a gifted child from a rough town and a screwed up family. I like the person I have become now that I have put the baggage from that away. Very happy to be weird. I love this post and the term RFM.

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  5. I have always known I was gifted (reading books in preschool to the other kids was the first time I noticed.) But I agree with Becky Thomas. The world is the one that can’t accept it. I get tired of being repressed when I just want to have my own space to be who I am. Why is that so hard? I end up retreating/withdrawing a lot just so I don’t have to fight others to be myself. It gets tiresome!

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  6. Oh, Paula, this may be my favorite of your posts, and there’s a lot of competition for that title! I certainly use the term “weird-brained” to refer to giftedness when I’m trying to avoid sounding elite, as you know….

    And this part — “Not enough time to read all of the books ever written” — made me laugh out loud. I’m going to be leaving my Respectable Well Paying Job soon for work that pays a lot less but gives me more time and freedom, and I am really looking forward to having more time to read (and to that reading supporting my creative work). So I guess you could say reading is more important to me than, well, several thousand dollars per year!

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    • Good for you, Jessie. Let us know how the new job goes. We’re all “weird-brained” here!

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    • I remember the frustration I felt (I must have been around ten at the time) when I realized a lifetime would not suffice to read all the books in the world. And then realizing even if I cut down the “to read list” to the books I really wanted to read, I would probably not have time for them all. I have done quite a bit of reading in my 40 years, but it’s never enough for us voracious readers, is it? Lately, since my eyes have been setting their own boundaries, I’ve had to resort to audiobooks, which is not quite the same, but at least I get a glimpse of the stories I may at one time actually get to read with my eyes. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I have made similar choices in my career. I take extra free time rather than a thick checkbook anytime!

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      • You realized that at 10, Carina? So cool! ๐Ÿ™‚


      • Yes – the ‘library catalogue Vs lifespan dilemma’. Personally, I try to push it out of my mind. My husband talks about the problem quite a lot – and seems to be trying to beat the system by reading 60 books at a time. He is the most prolific borrower at the local library – and even piggy-backs on the library cards of daughter & me!

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        • Husband also has a fantasy of placing his consciousness into some kind of robot so he can continue reading and learning after his corporeal form is gone. I think of this as a bit of a comfort fantasy! I let him have it, though.

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          • That is so funny! You obviously have found an appropriate mate, Ro!

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            • Yes, we are the best of friends. We learn a lot from each other, and try to figure out the world (other people) as a team. It can be useful, having two heads working on the tricky issues. Two unusual heads, though… Sometimes our daughter shares a ‘normal’ perspective now that she is older – and though it is extremely useful and insightful, I’m not comfortable with her having to ‘translate’ for her mum and dad. So it’s mostly just D & I researching and bumbling along ๐Ÿ™‚ We were both drive-by diagnosed (basically: diagnosis that was never followed up in any way) as children. My husband didn’t speak until he was 3. Because it was never followed up, in my own case, it is taking a long time for me to integrate the idea that I’m on the spectrum. But my daughter said one day that she knew from very early on that her parents were not like other parents. And I’m also told that I have stronger traits than D (who I see as having quite a few traits). I do trust their judgment, so… got to come to terms with it eventually ๐Ÿ™‚ Wouldn’t it be nice if there was supportive follow-up for every child in the world who is identified as having special needs in some way! I’m so glad to have found D. He doesn’t treat me like an interesting oddity to pick up for a while before realising it’s ‘broken’ and discarding it. We are true equals.

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      • I’m hearing so many other people (all incidentally gifted) saying this same thing, and similar things, lately. We all want time and freedom to follow our life missions…even if we haven’t yet figured out what those missions are!

        (And this, naturally, frequently involves reading all the books.)

        Since my mission is writing and sharing biographies of inspiring people, I’m thinking I should start interviewing other gifted adults who made a break from the cubicles of corporations and bureaucracies….

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s difficult to accept all of who I am, when who I am consistently turns people off. So revision and modification is my main focus – with a side of trying to ‘love and accept myself in the moment, despite everything’. I have an awful habit of over-sharing that seems to be the result of falling on the autism spectrum, as well as being conditioned to ‘tell all’ due to a decade of therapy starting in my early teens. I share my interiority too much. And being largely bed/housebound for the past 8 years doesn’t help, because I’m mostly only left with my internal experiences to offer and share these days. Sometimes I speak about what happened on tv shows with my husband and daughter, almost as though I was there… just to have something exciting and different to say. I don’t let it get me down really — I opt to isolate to save some semblance of dignity, and keep revising my behaviour. Mostly I create more and more rules and micro-rules to try and become someone who can fit in eventually. Today I came up with two more and will be working on implementing them. It’s all about protecting my ego, really. If I can fit in my ego wouldn’t constantly be taking a shame-battering. Isolation is definitely helping for now.

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    • You fit in here perfectly, Ro.

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    • Oh Ro, it makes me sad to hear you making yourself smaller to fit in others’ boxes. You be you! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • It’s so hard to figure all this stuff out, lilurazko! I’m beginning a writing diploma next year and have a feeling that the process of practising different forms of writing might assist me somehow. It’s just an intuition that I can’t fully articulate.

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    • I tend to be a bit reserved most of the time but I’m also guilty of oversharing in certain situations, when I’m feeling overly enthusiastic (which doesn’t happen all that often lately). Yes, when you feel mostly isolated and you find someone who seems nice, the temptation to speak too much can be too great. Now I opt to vent online with in forums and groups and pages such as this. I know most people wouldn’t understand our struggles so I only share them with like-minded people.

      Ro, like Lilurasko, I’m saddened to read about your rules and micro-rules to fit in. Perhaps you could let go of the idea to try to please people and just be true to yourself? Perhaps if you didn’t care that much about other people’s opinions, you could find balance between authenticity and self-preservation? Selective sharing is better than walls. Until you find that place where you feel comfortable, please stick around and share your thoughts with us. You are valuable to this community!

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      • It is a wonderful thing, this world of online spaces nowadays. I’m glad you find an outlet for self-expression online Carina. Me too – though I am careful not to stay in groups where I find myself becoming too maudlin.

        I’ve never fitted in with girls and as an adult, other women. TV, books, online articles etc are where I have learned about friendships between women. Recently I tried talking with my sister-in-law about her pregnancy (I’d heard her talking openly with other women about it) and she responded as though I was some creepy guy. Froze me out. I definitely did not say anything creepy, and in fact she was sharing far more intimate details with my mother in law and others – but I suspect it’s just creepy coming from /me/. That caused me a lot of shame (‘Another failure’). I had felt pretty confident beforehand that perhaps pregnancy was a topic we could bond a little over, as I have a 15 year old. But there appears to be little to no ‘bonding’ between me and other women.
        All that said, I’m very lucky because my husband loves speaking with me about all sorts of things. My daughter and I share a lot of laughs and fun times together too – though she fits in better with people aside from her Dad and me (we’re both on the autism spectrum – daughter is not). It’s a weird thing – like she is a different person around us. More ‘quirky’ perhaps? But around others… it’s like I can see the world she will sail off into in a few year’s time when she leaves home. And her Dad and I will never be a part of that world. Mostly I’m just glad she fits in though. It’s a relief.
        Thank you for your kind words Carina. Selective sharing is something I’m trying to figure out. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Ro, you’re not alone: I ‘overshare’ too, and I just lost a long-time friend over this…. My oversharing and venting to her over the years caused her to pull away from me more and more. I always knew that I was smarter than most of the kids in my class, which is to say that I knew I learned things a lot faster than they did. I was in elementary school in the early to mid-seventies, and what they did back then was just skip you to the next grade. I skipped first grade, and declined to skip 5th grade, because it would just give me more social problems. I have had trouble with ordinary friendships, and over the last two years I, like you, suspected that it was because I was somewhere on the autism spectrum. I also opt for isolation, or at least lots of time alone. My adult daughter lives with me and I think she is the only person that truly ‘gets’ me. Like you, I use my giftedness to learn about social rules and the best way to interact with others. It’s exhausting. ::: hugs :::

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      • It can be challenging to determine the differences between giftedness and Asperger’s Syndrome. They can look similar in some ways. Both like to talk a lot about their intellectual interests. With AS, though, they often miss the cues that the other person isn’t interested. It can almost be like a compulsion to share and hard to control. Like you say, Jane P, you can learn what the social rules are and then apply them. But that’s not easy with AS. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. His name was Wallace Reed. He was setting up a second hand store in the neighborhood. This was a kid magnet. He put us all to work moving stuff into the store. At the end of the afternoon, we were offered our pick of something from the store.

    One of the things I moved into the store was a field microscope. This looked like a fat lipstick with a slot in the side that would accept a standard microscope slide. There was a spring loaded stage to hold the slide in place. It was all brass, quite a proper Scientific Instrument. I asked for and was granted that field microscope.

    The other kids picked kid stuff. I picked a field microscope.

    Weird kid.

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  9. I am reading your book on RFM Paula and it is helping me so much with myself and my children. I asked my husband to read it as well to help him understand us more. It is so refreshing to know Im not weird and getting some coping mechanisms!! Thank you!

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  10. I do recognize my giftedness, I was identified in elementary school, the people I went to school with all treated me as the local “genius”, I took the SAT in 7th grade and qualified for TIP and went every summer (on a full need-based scholarship, mind), etc. But I don’t think I really understood what it meant until a few years ago, and honestly I’m still figuring it out, but “gifted” has been a part of my identity since I was little.

    I struggle a lot, lol. At the moment I’m reading people’s answers on a question and answer site. I managed to find some people who disagree with me who seem reasonable and who aren’t trolls, and I’m reading what they say, and I’m struggling with realizing how biased I’ve been and how many assumptions I’ve made, and with being angry at myself and thinking that I’m a bad person because of that.

    But also, as I read their answers, I’m really seeing how I perceive reality in an extremely different manner than they do. For one thing, like…to me my emotions are just my emotions and they’re normal and they’re what I’m used to. I’ve always been me and I’ve never known anything else, so I’ve never seen anything especially odd in things like crying my guts out and burning with shame and regret after rejecting a Christmas tree for being too small, or crouching in the shower and sobbing my guts out after reading a Kurt Vonnegut story, or sometimes feeling like I can’t breathe because there are other living beings who are suffering at the hands of humans and I can’t stop it and I can’t save everyone. And I’ve kind of mostly assumed that other people were operating at the same emotional volume. Lately I have been realizing that I was very very wrong about that.

    Even the other people who say they care seem to care in some way that seems alien to me, caring that is impersonal and not based in their blood flowing through everyone else’s veins, but more based in what seems to be introjected ideas that they sort of vaguely received from their surrounding social environment, and even when they have explicitly thought things through and have research and data and are logical, they still….I don’t know how to explain it. Their caring still sounds muffled and dim to my ears.

    Also from their posts I’m picking up on the idea that they would think that there’s something seriously wrong with me and that I’m not very intelligent and that I’m all sorts of bad and silly and not sane.

    I don’t know if I’ve felt weird for much of my life. I’ve always known there was a difference – I came home from kindergarten and asked my mother why the other kids couldn’t read yet, and I distinctly remember being very upset that they didn’t know how to read, and very indignant, and straight up saying “They don’t even know really easy words, like ‘the’ and ‘it’!” And then later on I remember telling my brother that it felt like I was using whatever the latest processor was at the time while other people had 486s. But somehow I never picked up on the really deep differences.

    So I feel weird now, but I felt pretty normal growing up.

    As for what it would be like if I accepted myself as gifted – well, I do already, to some extent, but there are a lot of things that I’m just now learning about it. And I don’t know, maybe one day I’ll learn to accept that people are people, and that I am weird even if I don’t feel like it, and that the thunder and lightning in my veins is not shared by everyone, and that not everyone thinks the same way I do, and that no, I can’t save everyone and there will always be incredible suffering that seems to be caused by cruelty to the sufferer but really the people causing the suffering just don’t see systems and don’t feel the blood of all other living beings inside themselves and they are just trying to live and they don’t realize that they’re part of a global system that is causing harm, and that…I don’t know. Maybe I can find a way to live within that reality, instead of feeling imprisoned in it.

    Like sometimes it feels like humans are a glass wall between me and the rest of the world. Like other species are just chilling and the trees and grass are all just growing and everyone else is connected and fine and okay, but I have to live with humans who freely choose to cause suffering, so I’m not connected and I’m cut off and I’m not allowed to feel the sun and the air and the freedom like the other species. But maybe if I learn more about what being gifted really means, I’ll find some way to poke a hole through the glass and be able to feel the goodness.

    It happens sometimes. Sometimes the glass falls away. I just have to learn how to do that even when the glass feels as heavy and forever as it does now.

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    • You’re post is beautiful, as is your soul. You aren’t alone friend. My daughter just broke down in tears from reading short stories for her English class today. She feels so much, cruelty and pain strikes her to her core. I don’t know that I can say anything to help you except that there are others on your side of the glass.

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    • You say so much here, medleymisty. I was not sure where to begin with a reply. Then goatygirl’s comment showed up and there it was. Sending love to you and to all of our sweet sweet bloggEEs. โค


    • Medleymisty, I totally understand what you mean about other people that claim to care but seem like they don’t. To me, their caring seems insincere, almost impersonal. I pick up on this as well, and it really hurts me. I have learned to just accept it logically, and try not to let it get to me. Thank you for validating what I have felt for so long!

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  11. Recognizing early on just how bright my baby was, I started the long journey to understanding giftedness. Fast forward 15 years and our favorite expression is “weird is more interesting”. We have many of the usual complex characteristics – perfectionism, empathetic, and highly sensitive at the top of the list. DD is in therapy at the moment to help her deal with anxiety. Imagine our joy at finding her therapist is a member of the tribe. As she was growing, it was always obvious that she was different and visibly gifted. I always felt a bit uncomfortable talking about it with the other mothers, but always ended up doing so anyway because I believe in educating. My belief has always been if I present my struggles as a mom with a kid matter-of-factly, that creates an example in other people’s minds that gifted is normal too. My goal is to create a trend that bucks stereotypical myths. I feel if I don’t share, other people can’t know.

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  12. I know lots of people come here to see how/if they fit in a picture that they are only one part of so can’t see the patterns. This is a valuable service you provide, Paula. I must admit I don’t always see me in yours posts, or perhaps, more accurately, in all parts of your posts, but I see enough to come back from time to time.

    “Youโ€™d think that gifted folks would feel superior and judgmental of all non-gifted humans everywhere.” Ruefully, this has been me, at least the judgmental part, sometimes, almost all of my life. I really don’t know what the perspective is to get rid of it permanently and completely, or even if I should. I started out my life analyzing everything and became a vocal social critic.

    From the age of three and going forward, the first things I notices about the people around me were: 1. irrational behaviour, including speech, and 2. hypocrisy.

    To make it worse, I was, still am to some extent, always ready to tell them about it. I always expect them to be grateful to have these intellectual shortcomings pointed out. Apparently, having a three-year old point out your shortcomings doesn’t sit well and yet, I’m not three anymore but I continue. I have always felt to be silent, whether in the face of illogical or hypocritical behaviour, or unjust acts, which to me are closely related, was unacceptable. To be quiet was to give assent and ultimately to become complicit. I believed I would be undermining my own integrity to let anything go unchallenged. I even talk back to the TV’s biases and slanted framing. If they are saying things that aren’t true or omitting vital information then to not protest immediately equals assent. I truly believe that remaining silent is to acquiesce and how long can you do that before you end up thinking the way they do?

    I taught my daughter to analyze everything and to pay close attention to the unstated assumptions underlying whatever programs or show we were watching. She’s picked that up but she also learned to be a good companion, friend and social person.

    We are also friends but very different in the non-intellectual areas.

    I think I’ve wandered off topic. Weird, right?

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    • I think it’s challenging to find a way to communicate effectively around “irrational behavior” or “hypocrisy” or injustice. Others here may struggle with this, as well. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Hksounds, I relate to this, too. I am more willing to be silent, but I feel anguish over it; I remain so (sometimes) because I know that people won’t hear any truth in what I’m saying and will just come after me for daring to say it. Sometimes I do it anyway because living with the external consequences is easier than living with the internal ones. My method for dealing with this has come down to weighing those internal vs. external consequences…but I wish I knew a better way of making this call. A more effective way of communicating, getting people to hear what they don’t want to hear.

      My highly gifted partner likes to compare me to Socrates and remind me what ultimately happened to him. But at least he likes this about me. Hemlock tea, anyone?

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  13. Your book and blog have helped me in innumerable ways during my most difficult times. Thank you so much Paula!

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  14. Thank you so much for this blog. I’ve been following it for about a year now and it’s incredibly comforting to discover so many stories that are similar to my own. It’s a bit less lonely around here because of your blog.

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  15. There’s only once place that is weird enough for my weirdness: the art world.

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  16. Let’s see if I can get some helpful feedback. Today I had a conversation with someone who I started playing bridge with at the beginning of September. Background: I had last played bridge in probably 1993 so I have a lot of ground to make up with old rules to remember and throw out, and new rules to incorporate.

    Recently, I made an error in judgement and was glad he told me about it. I understood the situation and said that I had got it. But he just went on belaboring the point which is totally unnecessary and I don’t like to have people to repeat and repeat a point that I already indicated I understood. “Alright, already!”

    Today, on the phone, after he went back to that same point and my requesting that he stop, he asked me if I thought he was a good bridge player.I told him the truth, that I didn’t know because I wasn’t familiar enough with playing yet to be able to evaluate anyone else’s playing but that if I’d thought he was a bad player, we wouldn’t still be playing.

    I think he didn’t like that reply.

    I wasn’t not going to lie and say he was a good player when I don’t know. How to answer this question without lying but in a way that would have been more satisfactory to him?

    I’m really eager to have you share your ideas on this.


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    • I would have answered the question exactly like you did. I don’t like lying to people to save face or to please someone’s ego. I don’t like being brutal either, but I’d say your answer was balanced and not offensive at all. The truth is, not knowing the person, it’s next to impossible to guess the “right” answer that would have left him satisfied, and people can get offended for the silliest reasons.
      I love giving praise when praise is due, and words of affirmation are great when they’re truthful, but when I’m unsure there is any real merit, I don’t feel sincere flattering people and inflating their egos. If as a result of you not saying “You’re a GREAT bridge player!” this guy has a bad attitude change, you may consider choosing another companion for bridge.

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    • Hmmm…. I find people’s behavior interesting. There’s usually a pattern. So, taking into account that there’s a reason for behavior, we can wonder why exactly he belabored your mistake. Then, suddenly switches gears and asks you about his card playing skills. I’m wondering if he was trying to manipulate you by making you “feel bad” for your mistake and then expecting you to inflate his card playing skills in return. Almost like he was saying, “Well, you can make it up to me by…”

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Thank you, I appreciate your taking the time to reply. As for your, most reasonable suggestion, to find another bridge partner, unfortunately, Where I live is not a bridge-playing city and bridge partners and games are hard to come by. One reason I haven’t played in so many years.

    It’s good to know that someone else might answer in the same way. But, I’m thinking there has got to be other options because other people don’t have the same reactions to their replies that I do, a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you for all of this! So helpful. I’m not gifted but (with irony filter), I am totally RFM. Too many books, yarns for knitting, and currently 3 quilting projects underway. I really needed to hear that all of these ‘diverse ‘ skills and challenges, really do go all together for a reason, and to have a way to understand that. I answered Yes to almost all of the quiz questions in your book. It would be helpful to hear some strategies about how to filter out, or find counselors for those of us who don’t live near you. I live in a very small city in Canada, and so I’m looking for people who will do phone or online practice. What are some key phrases or search strategies? Mine are not turning up anyone (and as a RFM with clinical experience and 3 degrees in 3 different disciplines, including psychology, trust me, I’ve looked broadly). Most counselors aren’t worth investing the time in to explain “so, why are you here today?” Where to start? Or end? It’s like, “well, there’s all these things, but that’s not it…” I’m now quite sure (thank you) I’m not the only one with this challenge. Thank you again! I really wish I’d found this when I was 13 in the late 70s, but better late than never.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Iโ€™m Not Gifted, Iโ€™m Just Weird | Your Rainforest Mind - Adviesbureau Willem de Boer, inspiratiecoach voor hoogbegaafden en mensen met een ASS diagnose [autisme]

  20. Ma’sha Allah, Paula, what a poignant, empowering , reminding and positive assertion… to acknowledge that we have something to bring, that being complex doesn’t mean, too messy to deal with is really really the reminder I needed right now. I’m finally going through an intense life coaching course [online] which has made me realise, even amongst people there for the same exact reasons as me, they don’t quite have quite the depth of dysfunction I was exposed to, and that kind of makes me feel, how awesome it is, that I was given a miracle to survive all of my past and to keep on growing. It can be so hard to have so many possibilities, and not quite make it, to feel so much, and be surrounded by people seemingly not overwhelmed by the world and the pain, injustices and ignoring the positve ways we could reach peace for all people.. but it is a good feeling, to realise our hearts are open, and we care, and in some ways, maybe by reminding that everyone benefits from kindness, we might finally one day, get our message through…<3 But, i do definitely keep being reminded, in the social circles i mix in, [well, dip my toes in occasionally] I'm seen as something a bit weird, and the water can chill if I stay too long!

    Liked by 3 people

  21. this is my daughter!!!! and now I have tears running down my cheeks. I now homeschool her in her junior year of high school… she could never quite fit in or find happiness at a famous charter school for the Arts, nor at public high school. I am going to find your book. She is SO creative, musical and artistic, academic, … burdened by ” multi -potentiality”? She has anxiety and is very hard on herself. I feel the weight of pressure to help her as her mom. tears… more tears…

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Paula, you’d replied to my common on your previous post with, “Tell us more.” Here it is:

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Crying over my coffee, as usual when reading one of yoru posts. It really is uncanny how you hit the mark. I tried so hard not to be weird in middle school and high school. So, so hard. And I’d think I’d be doing it, fitting in, and then someone would look at me and laugh and say, oh you’re so weird. And I’d pick my heart up off the floor and start over, trying to be normal. The one positive thing I can think of about aging is I don’t care anymore. Truly. I don’t. I have some good friends, and i maintain those friendships and I know that many people out there think I’m a little off. I AM a little off. And I’m OK with that. Actually, I prefer it to beiing one of the sheep. But oh, how to save my kids from some of the anguish….at least they’re growing up in a supportive environment and not being raised by chainsaws. That has to help a little, right? Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely, Sarah, your support, understanding and love for your kids makes a huge difference. And, perhaps, being “a little off” as we are, is something to celebrate! What a great off-ness it is!


  24. I think I’m 2e with a Rfm. Don’t know for sure but sounds right! Not sure how to connect with people because I’m definitely weird! I’ll keep trying:)

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Only just recently have I discovered that I’m gifted (even though I still think of myself as weird and not gifted) because my son was recognized as gifted at school. All that he goes through brings flashbacks of not-so-wonderful memories. For many years I had to endure the stares that speak “What planet are you from?” and that wasn’t because I wore glasses either. Double whammy. I preferred the company of my teachers when I was in elementary and secondary school, I had a vocabulary that was scoffed at by peers. Even though I really struggled with math, I excelled at other subjects. I desperately wanted social interaction with my peers but was constantly rebuffed. Because of my sensitive nature, I took those rejections very personally to the point that I still struggle with self-esteem and the occasional bout of social anxiety disorder. I’ve found some people of “my tribe” but even then when I whip out a random trivia fact or date I’m met with awe tinged with annoyance. I never want to make anyone feel bad that I remember lots of things. I have joined groups for gifted individuals on Facebook, but even then that doesn’t feel like enough because I need the interaction just as much as I appreciate insight for how to deal with my son.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many folks discover their own giftedness while raising their children. Don’t give up on finding tribe members. It only takes one or two REALLY good ones to make a difference. And you’re always welcome to share your “random trivia” with us! Thanks for commenting.


  26. I have many things in common with those that posted their comments; being gifted does not necessarily make life any easier, or make one a math whiz for that matter. In fact, certain factors that are usually associated with giftedness could make life even more difficult (e.g. emotional intensity, mental complexity, perfectionism, etc.). However, I am starting to recognize or accept the idea, that the same traits or characteristics that could turn against us within unfavorable circumstances could also be the greatest source of our strengths!

    Do you agree with my statements?

    I’ll leave you with this quote from Friedrich Nietzsche (another gifted individual).

    “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

    Liked by 1 person

  27. By the way, Paula. I would like to express my gratitude towards you for creating such a wonderful blog! With beautiful insights pertaining to an equally wonderful, yet often misunderstood (and even maligned) group of people in our society. Reading some of the articles you’ve written helped me understand myself a little bit better as a gifted person—it contributed to my growth (and expressing these things are definitely helping me improve my writing skills).

    Please keep those articles coming.—I’ll continue reading and relishing each one of them!

    By the way, would it be okay for us to suggest topics or issues for your next articles? Again, thanks, Paula!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your gratitude, Robert. It’s one of the joys of my life to write this blog and connect to so many dear souls. And yes, please, suggest topics!! I’ve been wondering what to write next, so let me know what you’re thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve got a few ideas! (And I’ll surely try to tackle some of these in my own blog, but I’m not a trained counselor, so it would be pretty great to hear from someone who is on these topics. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Just now I was posting up this thread in response to hksounds, who was talking about the difficulty of pointing out when someone is wrong. Some of us feel compelled to try to help think things through and eliminate errors, which is obviously a good thing to do in the abstract — but people’s feelings get hurt, and it too often goes awry. That’s surely far too big a problem to solve in a blog post, but any thoughts you might have that could chip away at the problem would make wonderful blog fodder, I think. “Communicating with people who are wrong but have feelings,” “sharing your insights so that people can hear it,” or on a slightly different note, “balancing intellectual and emotional OE” or “weaving intellect and compassion together” would be topics on which I’d love to hear what you think, Paula!

        One other idea, spinning off the great Goethe quote that Robert shared and the idea of solitude. Just yesterday I listened to the Embracing Intensity podcast with Jennifer Harvey Sallin of InterGifted, and she said something that really struck me: apparently, she quit her 9-5 job and became an entrepreneur because she also gets terribly drained working for someone else in a solid schedule like that. I’m making a similar life choice at the moment (but didn’t have such solid evidence that my weird energy patterns are related to giftedness until I heard another gifted person cite them for making the same choice, though I’m not surprised of course)…so anything on that balance issue, on finding a way to have enough solitude to develop our talents while also engaging in a healthy way that develops our character…it seems like that might also be a fruitful topic. Though again, probably not one that fits into just one blog post.

        (By the way, I listened to your interview with Aurora as well — loved it! Thank you for sharing, Paula, both on the podcast and in this wonderful blog!)

        Liked by 1 person

  28. This is for those searching for a tribe to belong to, or those trying to find other gifted individuals which they could connect to on an intellectual and emotional level.

    It is only natural for people, even those that are considered gifted, to desire a sense of belonging or camaraderie with other like minded people. However, I believe that in order for us to have a better chance of reaching our full potential, but as well as increasing our possible impact on society, we should also embrace the need for isolation at times. Why? You may ask. Firstly, isolation often acts as the foundation in which we develop our gifts or talents. Without isolation we wouldn’t be able to properly develop and /or augment our natural abilities due to lack of undivided attention. Secondly, our sensual sensitivities to our environment, makes it easier for us to become overstimulated and overwhelmed by certain things. Therefore, it would only be logical or reasonable to say, that it will benefit us to remove ourselves from certain contexts.

    Do you have anything to add to what I’ve just said? Do you disagree or agree? If so, why?

    I’ll leave you with this quote from that great German genius named Johann Goethe.

    “Talent develops in tranquility, character in the full current of human life.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • I so agree with the need for solitude. (maybe a better word than isolation??) And this must be one of your topic suggestions, yes? I’m guessing that people who write about creativity have written about this. I’m an introvert so it fits particularly well for me. I wonder about extraverted RFMs and their needs for solitude. Great questions, Robert. Let’s see if other commenters chime in.


    • I strongly agree, Robert, and thanks for posting that quote. It describes exactly the challenge I’m facing right now. I’m actually resigning from my 9-5 job so I can give building my actual talents a shot for year. (We’ll live on my partner’s salary and my savings — I realized it was not as crazy as it sounded when it struck me that other people take a year or two to go to grad school, and they don’t merely give up their income, but incur debt while doing it! And I’ve already got letters after my name, so I don’t need that. I just need the time to try to build something!)

      And the same time, I’m a political educator and organizer (in addition to the 9-5 job which is unrelated!) who has been struggling with the tremendous change in tenor in our organization following last year’s election. Suffice it to say that this has been a character-building exercise for me, as I’ve had to quickly learn to deal with hostility. It has not been fun. But I don’t want to give up.

      So getting that tranquility / life current balance right so that I can develop both my talent and my character is precisely my challenge at the moment.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I totally agree. I’ve been unemployed for a long time (it’s a long story that I’ve likely told here before), so I have ended up spending most of my time alone. Sometimes it is boring, sometimes it is lonely and uncomfortable, sometimes I feel sorry for myself.

      BUT….that isolation has also afforded me the kind of solitude and time to just let the mind play and explore. I have had time to teach myself a lot of skills. As a “multipotentialite”, that is definitely a gift. I’ve researched a lot of different subjects, one of them being giftedness and that eventually led me here.

      In general, as an experimenter who needs a lot of time to just “goof off”, (to describe what the creative process might look like to an outsider), solitude is indeed a necessity. This is especially true if you are trying to shake off the effects of peer/family/authority pressure, conformity, group-think and any other outside forces that are continually trying to stop us from trying to be ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. You’re right, Paula. Solitude is definitely a better word in this context. Please consider writing about the need for solitude in your next topic. But, of course, there are also gifted extraverts—you’re right. However, I believe that they also need a form of solitude in order for them to develop their gifts or talents. You can’t expect to become a great scholar while you spend most of your time socializing with other people no matter how talented or bright you are! Then, again, that also depends on their native abilities, and the need to interact with other people in order to develop certain aspects of your gifts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll think about this, Robert. I’m not sure I have a lot of experience with this, per se. Let me think about it for a bit.


    • I’m very extrovert when I want but I need LOTS of my time alone. It’s more like that I prefer to be alone mos of the time, but I love meeting my good friends (many of them gifted as well) and having good conversations with them. Or I can go to a party and be the person that dances the most. But after a while I need the silence of my room again.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. The contextual necessity pertaining to the development of certain gifts sometimes requires you to act in a way that wouldn’t be so “extraverted”. When it comes to certain things the contexts often trumps against one’s personality—no way around that.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Found it! This is just the way I remember my field microscope. Fortunately, this one is sold and temptation removed.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Thanks, Jessie—I truly appreciate your input! And, I’m glad that you’re taking the next step towards developing some of your many talents! Does it sound a little bit risky?—it does. However, no great person in history ever achieved much by being a spectator; by taking the easy route. Good luck, Jessie!

    “Pearls donโ€™t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.”— Chinese Proverb

    But, yes, I would like to provide examples from my own life to help reinforce my previous statements pertaining to “contextual necessity”.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I would like to apologize for the last sentence in my previous statement; it sounded a little bit off.

    Also, I thought of another possible topic, while I was reading Jessie’s comments, for your next post—the necessity of taking risks in order to fulfill one’s potential, or while trying to achieve great things in life!

    In addition, I think I should also provide some examples, how those things which I’ve formerly mentioned could be implemented in my own life.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Happy Halloween to all the weird. Why do we reserve only one day a year to act out our inner weirdo?
    As the famous punk band Dead Kennedys said in their song “Halloween”:
    “Why not everyday, are you so afraid, what will people say?”

    Being the black sheep of the family was no fun.

    In 1982, punk rock was still pretty shocking and repulsive to most people here, even if they had never actually heard it. The mere act of being a punk rock fan somehow gave people the license to abuse you, โ€œthe freakโ€.
    My family was no different.

    One day I came home from school to hear my brother and his friends playing one of my Dead Kennedys records. I hid around the corner to eavesdrop.
    โ€œOh my God this sh*t sounds even worse than I imagined!โ€ one said.
    โ€œHow can anyone listen to this??โ€ another added.
    โ€œI guess you gotta be a freak like your brother.โ€ said the third.

    They looked scared when I suddenly walked into the room.

    โ€œWhy donโ€™t you geniuses try playing the record at the right speed?โ€ I said as I flipped the switch on the turntable from 33rpm, (which will make any band sound sludgy and drunk on Nyquil), to the correct 45rpm.

    โ€œEh, It still sounds like sh*tโ€ one of them said after a couple seconds, obviously trying to sound and look tough, and the rest of them nodded in agreement.
    โ€œYeah. What a bunch of crap! Freak.โ€

    Itโ€™s funny to think back on how they mistook their own stupidity as a sense of superiority, but having grown up in the conservative environment that emboldened the bravado of people like my brother and his friends, it would have been nice to have supportive allies, especially within my own tribe.
    Because no matter how much the head feels acceptance for oneโ€™s own eccentricities and has little respect nor fear of the brutes, there is still a part in the heart that the brutes have hurt and sometimes still can hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So sorry about the brutes, Mark. It can be hard to avoid them. Sending a hug to your heart.


      • I think I need to work on my pathos – to – humor ratio because that was supposed to be more humorous than pathetic. ๐Ÿ˜‰
        But thank you just the same!

        Like Robert B. below, I feel it is my mission to try to change the world before I die!

        Except I don’t really have a plan for that, other than to see my own struggles as being little pieces of a bigger puzzle.

        Because a couple questions continually nag at me:
        Why do so many gifted/sensitive/creative people struggle so much?
        How different would the world be if gifted/creative/eccentric/weird/2e/neuro-atypical people were regularly embraced as valuable members of society instead of merely being perceived and shunned as “the other”?

        Liked by 1 person

  35. I’m going to say something weird—I want to help change the world before I die! IT IS MY LIFE’S MISSION!

    Liked by 3 people

  36. I’ve always thaught I was WEIRD. At school I had good marks, lots of friends, but I was very intense and very different to the rest. Always standing up for those who were ‘weaker’ and ‘reporting’ to the teachers everything I felt unfair. But I had a very happy childhood.

    For me the difficult time came when I started to WORK. I studied business and I was also very good at it because I loved studying and learning. But then I started to work in a consulting company, and everything changed. I felt so bad and different to them. I just didn’t care about the projects we were working on. I quit my job after almost 3 years (I cried at work so much), took a suitcase and went to the UK to improve my english, as I knew I wanted to do something in the International field, and I changed going back home from the office and a comfortable life for working in a restaurant and cleaning bathrooms. But I didn’t care.

    After a year I did a masters in International Business, I went to work to Israel in the area of innovation (everyone thaught I was crazy but I didn’t care). I loved the experience and getting into it because it was a real changelle but again I didn’t like the content of my job. It wasn’t meaningful, and I’ve always felt I had to work on something that has a positive impact on the society and the world. When my contract finished, I got into the online marketing industry there, which was a challenge again as you have to prove a lot if you want to work in high tech there. But again, I hated the content of it. So that always made me feel so BAD. People would tell me that’s normal, that no ones likes their jobs. But I had ‘fire’ inside and a great need to help. I knew I wasn’t like them. I didn’t think or feel like them.

    So then once I came across an article talking about gifted adults, and I felt very connected to what they said. So I bought the book and that opened my eyes. I looked for a psychologist specialized on that, and I started theraphy. After I while I decided to take the test and it confirmed what she says she already knew. It was while doing this that I understood that I wasn’t crazy, that my sensibility, my need to learn and meet new goals all the time, to have new changelles in my life, the fact that I hate routine and having a standard life, my need to live new adventures and to change cities, countries, jobs, almost every year, that ‘fire’ that I really feel inside, my ‘power’ to make the decissions and always go with my heart not caring about what the society says…was relatedto that.

    It was like deep inside I knew I had a great potential, but for me success was very different from what it means to most of the society.

    So, I’m 32, I’m back in Spain now, I quit my job again and I started the master’s degree of my dream in International Cooperation for Development. And I feel the happiest person on earth right now. Like my life has a real meaning , I wake up every day feeling so HAPPY, grateful, full of energy. Like all that fire that I had inside is coming out in th best of the ways. The only ‘bad’ thing I feel is that my level of enthusiasm is so, so high, that I feel that I need to try to control it a bit because I’m too intense in class and people might not like it, hahhah.

    My idea is, once I finish, to go to Africa to work there for a while, and I want to start a Phd on African Development topics. I’m starting to study French, I’d like to study swahili, I want to work close to the poor but at the same time get into the Goverment to influence public policies….ahahhaah. And that’s my life. My friends are getting married, starting to buy houses….and I’m spending my savings on this, not knowing what will happen, but feeling the happiest person in the world. Happy to do whatever I want, to have the strenght to live a life according to my needs.

    Nothing can be compared to how u feel when u know that u are on the right track, and nothing will move me from my passion.

    I’m weird, intense, different..? Yes, but I’ve accepted I’m different and I live well with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. I think I was lazy as a child. I wasn’t really into sports or anything other than reading and Spanish. OH, and for some reason, ballet. I tried asking my dad if he remembers why I was so obsessed with ballet, but he doesn’t remember. Unfortunately, out where we live, there were no close by ballet studios and the closest ones were far and too expensive. I was in some dance classes but if they weren’t ballet, I didn’t care for them and would barely go through the motions. It HAD to be ballet. I don’t even know if I would have been good at it. I don’t feel gifted because I don’t really have any external achievements to show for it, but I’m very loving and sensitive and affectionate and I love learning and growing. I’ve been told I have a gift for writing and encouraging, but it feels like everyone does that. When I express self-hatred due to mediocrity, my friends tell me I’m super smart and above average and the sweetest person they know, but it feels like if they knew the real me they would they I’m pathetic and horrible. However, over the past few years, I’ve been overwhelmed with so many sudden urges to explore different artistic mediums. I love colors. I love their meanings and how they combine together. I love words and how we must choose each word intentionally because one word has the power to alter the meaning of something. I want to teach myself ballet. I want to paint flowers and focus on flowers and colors. I want to do these things to share myself, my visions and joys and sorrows with people. But I”m scared because I don’t know if I’ll be good at them. I feel envious toward child prodigies and people my age because they’re amazing and I feel like I’m nothing compared to them. I feel like because I’m not doing impressive things, I’ll never be lovable or important to the people around me. But I also feel so out of place in this world. I have the weirdest urge to escape my body, as if it’s confining me. As if my soul yearns to be elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I didn’t realise I was gifted for the first nearly 30 years of my life. For me that is how everyone was. Now I understand a lot of it and step back to think. Everyone around me felt that i was different, but for me I was struggling with a lot of issues. People misunderstood me and my body language. i was a confused human being. But there is a bit of clarity now. I am happy for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It can take time to understand that some of the differences may be due to giftedness. It often feels normal because it’s just who you are. Thanks for your comment, Shyami.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Paula, yes it took me years, decades infact before i realised a lot of things. For me it was the frustration of not being able to understand why others did not understand what I was trying to communicate. Also, how others could think in a certain way while I felt that was not right…

        Liked by 1 person

  39. I’ve definitely always felt weird, and knew I was smart but it took me a long time to realise I am gifted (& I still feel awkward saying it!). Like I was apart from my peers and even though I had friends I had to always watch what I said or did so I didn’t let on entirely how weird I am – people know I’m odd but lovely, haha, but have no idea how weird I truly am. My partner is also weird (gifted) & one day when I said I feel like I’m on another planet to other women, he said I’m not on another planet, I’m in a whole other universe. And I felt like that was the best compliment ever, as I finally felt understood! He’s not so much a RFM, but through reading your blog I’ve realised I am. And what brought me here is researching as my 2 year old son definitely is. He’s hitting all his milestones well ahead of time, but has always been intensely sensitive, highly emotional and all the other things that you describe. I’m so glad to have found a spot to explore more about how he & I are and what we can do to support him as he grows up. Time will tell if his little brother follows the same path too!

    Liked by 1 person

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