Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

How Will You Know a Gifted Adult When You See One?

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photo courtesy of Joanna Nix, Unsplash

How do you know that you’re with a gifted adult?

There are clues.

It probably won’t be obvious. And they certainly won’t tell you. In fact, they may not even know themselves. They may just think that they’re weird. Or a little crazy. Or a lot crazy.

There are certain questions that they will have trouble answering. Questions that most people think are simple. Questions like: What do you want to be when you grow up? What is your favorite book? What color do you want to paint your living room? How are you?

There are certain questions that they’ll want you to ask them. Questions that most people want to avoid. Questions like: What makes life worth living? What are you reading now and how are you influenced by this particular writer? How many languages would you like to learn and why? When are you going to change career paths next and what looks good to you these days? How does the octopus express consciousness?

If you ask them if they’re gifted, they’ll probably say no. They know how much they don’t know. They know people smarter than they are. They haven’t invented anything insanely great.

They may look ungifted because they haven’t become CEO of that corporation and they haven’t cured cancer. They may look ungifted because they cry easily and still believe that they can change the world. They may look ungifted because they can’t decide what to eat. They may look ungifted because they’re easily overwhelmed by certain sounds, smells, textures, colors, chemicals, and angry humans. They may look ungifted because they dropped out of school. They may look ungifted because they forget your birthday, can’t find their keys, and don’t finish their 13 on-going projects that are spread all over the house.

So, it’ll be hard to know if you’re with a gifted adult.

But, if all else fails. Look for the person with MORE.

Look for more depth.

Look for more sensitivity.

Look for more complexity.

More anxiety, more questioning, more researching, more existential depression, more ideas, more reading, more thinking, more compassion, more loneliness, more talking, more perfectionism, more idealism, more imagining, more laughing, more angst, more empathy, more creativity, more answers, more crying.

More more-ness.

And then you’ll know. You’re with a gifted adult.

Who just might be you.

_____________________________________

To my sweetest bloggEEs: Let us know how this fits for you. Do you still deny your giftedness? We’d love to hear from you. You know that your comments add so much! This post is part of a blog hop on gifted adults, so if you click on the image below, you’ll access more articles on the topic, written by some wonderful humans!

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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 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.

75 thoughts on “How Will You Know a Gifted Adult When You See One?

  1. Weird, crazy, and I’m 54 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, because I’m still not sure if I actually am grown up. But I did learn, at a young age that I’m very gifted. But it doesn’t always feel that way, because I keep meeting people so much smarter than me. Thanks for a great article. I’d have liked to have seen some research-able references, but it’s a jumping-off point that I appreciate having.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Your posts always make me feel so understood. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes to all that, I love your questions and have written them down, I know more than a few people I’d like to try them out on… and… funny you should mention the expression of consciousness in octopodes. I have a vivid memory of being 5 years old at an aquarium in a far north town in Australia, the type with an open ocean view just a short walk to the beach. I was wandering past a tank when, splat, a large wet octopus liberated itself from the confines of its tank and started unfurling on the floor in front of me. I stood and watched, thinking for an eternal moment ‘I should’ tell someone’, but at the same time I was also thinking, ‘it’s not to far to the beach… maybe he can make it’. In the end I went for ‘help’ and he was ‘put back’ in his small glass prison. I recall feeling intense guilt for dobbing the poor critter in and having him recaptured. I was told that he did it often. I’ve often wondered if he ever made it. I often wondered if I’d ever make it. Now I like to think that maybe he got so annoying that they threw him back and he made it home and I feel like I’ll make it home too… and just maybe I already have. Much love Paula and thanks x

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Thank you for these wonderful posts. They lift my spirit and help me reflect on who I am.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Paula, Great points about how gifted adults don’t always “look” gifted, and how questions bring out so much complexity and great information. Lovely post about these amazing adults.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t deny my giftedness, but have difficulties believing in it.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. We need something akin to a bird finder book. Only, in reverse. Possibly as a handout. Better as an app.

    In proximity it transmits to similar others a description or image of us in our native habitat. A photo or painting showing us doing that thing everybody is always asking or afraid to ask, “why are you doing that?”

    As with all good bird books it will include details of our migration range, what we do each day, the sorts of things we talk about, and what we prefer to eat.

    Coding has always felt like ditch digging to me, so anyone that wants to use this idea – go ahead. Please, just send me a link upon completion.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Your description of the person with More is spot on. It’s also a great reminder, all the Mores come together, and for me, I’d rather have More than less.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You made me cry tears from feeling understood and thus affirmed. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I second the request for a spotters app! I’d use it. I’m on my “second career” even though I swore I wouldn’t be one of those statistics that changed. Loyalty is an overwhelming issue for me, and I wonder how much is from some perceptions of this concept in my childhood. Today is my middle child’s 11th birthday. Tonight is her school performance and I will be in a room full of strangers making that meaningless mundane “mom small talk”. Maybe I’ll ask about cephalopods…

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  11. Oh that question. Shouldn’t be so difficult, “How are you?” What a question though! Or how about this one, “What do you do?” That one gets me every time. It’s like, “Hmm, well, i don’t know, how long of an answer do you want?”
    Great post. “More more-ness.” Loved that. 🙂

    Kept thinking about this post today, thinking about the purposes of identifying gifted people. What reasons are there? Maybe for a person to find gifted friends, or a partner. Maybe just so people could understand more, instead of giving weird looks. Definitely to help kids develop into healthier potentials. Great for a clinical setting, for doctors and counselors to avoid misdiagnoses. This post would be great for teachers and healthcare people to read.

    The thing that I keep getting hung up on is the idea that gifted people “certainly won’t tell you.” There’s got to be exceptions right? Like the closing line points to, one purpose of identifying gifted people might be to figure out if you are one! If you were to figure that out after a while, would the rule still remain? I mean, if a person does figure out their own giftedednessed… well, they might want to share the realization out of excitement, right? Or, how could they express it to someone they may need to? Someone like a healthcare provider, who might just roll their eyes at the idea alone, not even to mention the self-identifying part of it. If the guideline is that they won’t tell you, then how can they advocate for themselves? If the person is lucky enough to find a provider that has a decent amount of exposure to the concept of giftedness, or to this site maybe, then how can the person communicate what they know about themselves? Will the very act of revealing that hidden thing make it impossible to be believed?

    I know I’m overthinking this. It’s just that after reading your blog for a long time and gradually opening up to the rainforest mind concept, I’m now finding that looking for a counselor I can afford, who is open to the idea, is challenging. At the mention of gifted, or trying to explain rainforest mind, they seem to get uncomfortable, or subtly close off, like they get all secretly judgey or dismissive. Any tips on identifying yourself when it’s necessary?
    I like this post, got me thinking a lot. 🙂
    Funny how often we love to praise the idea, “Know thyself.” We say that, but we should really add the unspoken parts too: “Know thyself… but don’t talk about it!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is important, kontekst. We need to understand our giftedness for all of the reasons I write about and others need to know it, too, like you say. Educators, medical professionals, etc. But how do we share it in a way that people can hear it? You aren’t overthinking this. It’s a real issue. Using the rainforest analogy instead of the g word might be one idea in some cases. Describing your characteristics without the label can be useful. But I’d love it if we could just tell it like it is and talk about giftedness openly. Part of my job is to help us get there!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I replied to Becca below, but I think this is true here, too. Paula should be able to respond:

      Someone comes into a clinical setting, and says, “I’m gifted.”

      Someone else comes into a clinical setting, and says, “I think I’d test in the second or third standard deviation on the giftedness spectrum.”

      How are these two self-analyses going to fly during intake? Irrespective of anything else?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe it depends on the clinician. But the second is more descriptive, so that’s probably better. In either case, I’d recommend providing details along with the g word. (what are your traits?) Or explaining that you have a rainforest mind and providing links to my blog!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I like that better. Yours is the most useful description/characterization I’ve encountered. If the clinician knows your work, good. If they don’t, it gives them something to learn. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • Check out InterGifted! They truly understand giftedness, offer coaching and their rates are reasonable!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Paula, you are a genius and so so helpful. Yes yes and more more and …wAit what are we talking About again? Ok, (wince), I’m sure that sounds like Me😉, maybe a little. Bit. Ok Yes. But I cannot claim it until I actually Do something importNt, right?😳 But.. what?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi Paula,

    It’s been a while. I just re-found you. (We worked together for a while about a decade ago when I was living in Eugene.)

    As far as what I want to do when I grow up: Last year I decided to give up the software engineering for good and take on a role as a retreat center manager. 3 weeks ago, I applied to graduate school in counseling. I have degrees in math and computer science. Was thinking of getting a PhD in math at one point, but the pace of learning was more than I could take in. I could understand it as it was being taught, but I needed more time to integrate, to really learn it, to let it sink into my bones. The geek-machismo was strong. Although I made good grades, my perfectionism was wearing me to the bone. Plus I it was hard to do any one thing for that many hours of the day.

    I took my current job as a retreat center manager because I thought it would let me do many sorts of different things: work with people, do some logic-type stuff with spreadsheets, etc, while serving a Buddhist organization I’ve been part of for 9 years. But we are understaffed, so again I am working long hours. And I am not getting focus time. One “weird” thing is that I need blocks of time for focused work like spreadsheet manipulation, etc. I can’t just go in and out of that mind state easily. Switching is painful. I’ve gotten better at it, but it’s hard. One software engineering job I had open-plan seating and I couldn’t get anything done. It was so frustrating. I found myself working at home more often, but that had repercussions – I was more productive, but it was highly competitive and those who worked at home were considered less committed.

    Chronic understaffing is something that gets me every time. Because I have had so many “careers” (or more like “gigs”) of so many different types, I can fill in in a pinch for many different jobs. Our media guy is out? No problem, I’ll set up that conference call. Short in the kitchen? Again, not a problem (did I tell you I used to manage the kitchen for a yearly adult summer camp?). Need a meeting facilitator? I used to get paid for that. Etc. And the work piles up. I have high expectations of myself, but am more understanding and compassionate of others, and don’t expect them to put in herculean hours. Ugh. I have built a capacity for work, patience, etc – the trick for me is to not burn out *and* to spend my life energy wisely.

    I have had a very similar “life vision” for many years. It has evolved over time from a pagan non-celibate monastery to working closely with a small group of people who are interested in working with activism, meditation, pagan ritual, nature awareness, and personal growth, while living on the edge of the woods. How to turn this into a career? I have had various strategies. The software engineering gig was to make enough money in a short period to retire early (and modestly). I couldn’t quite make it – the work (4 years this time around) was soul-killing. We saved most of it and made some good investments, allowing us to move out to Colorado and work for our dharma center at 1/3 the wages. Problem is that working the center is life-draining in a different way, and part of it is the culture: they are so *contained*. But, I found an affordable nearby college that is CACREP-accredited and comes highly rated. It’s not overly academic, and will naturally have a bit of a rural focus (both of which are great by me). My only concern is getting bored before I’m done. But it’s only 2 years, and I will have much more flexibility in my schedule, so here’s hoping. The counseling is work I love (and am good at), and I can do good in the world with it, and hopefully it will support my other endeavor. My challenge is to stay focused on the goal. Ultimately, what is important to me is to have a life of meaningful and truly responsive service, with enough down time that I don’t burn out, and also have time to go slow: it is the only way to make peace with my perfectionism.

    “How are you?” is no longer hard for me to answer. I have learned to know how I feel, and to also gauge whether a short, less accurate version is the appropriate response (95% of the time it is), and when I can get into more nuance. I treasure the people who have time and interest for the nuance. But I’m OK with the shallow version in most situations.

    As far as the “gifted” label, it’s a hard one. People suspect narcissism when you use it. So I typically don’t unless I know them well, and it’s more like a confession that I bring out to explain my way of being in the world. I do wish though that I could wave a magic wand so that people would understand me better. I’d love for them to feel more peace in our interactions, giving them space to put the chainsaws away. Why are you always making suggestions for improving things? Why do you speak so directly? You are so hard to figure out. You are so responsible but sometimes you fail at small, basic things like not losing stuff. Why are you so calm but also so clearly stressed sometimes? I have trouble reading you. Why aren’t you happy? Why do you have elaborate answers before we’ve barely framed the question? You seem a bit arrogant. Why are you just so so-much?

    Thanks for reading my tome. Hope it was useful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nice to see you here, Becca. Your description here is such a wonderful example of the gifted person’s experience. Your “tome” is definitely useful. Thank you.

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    • Becca, THANK YOU. You just articulated something that’s been such a major influence in my life, but that I could never name. ” have time to go slow: it is the only way to make peace with my perfectionism.” THAT RIGHT THERE.
      I have always been so, so frustrated when I’m slow at something, whether by my own metric or an exterior one. I’m an embalmer, and I am really, really good at it. I specialize in extreme restoration and infants. Closing in on seven hundred bodies and not one family has closed a the casket. Two years into my career, I was recognized as the only known embalmer in my state who has even attempted to embalm a stillborn at 32 weeks gestation, much less succeed. I’m especially talented when it comes to “erasing” long illness, restoring a person who hasn’t been injured or maimed, but rather died long and slow and hard, back to what they looked like when they were healthy. (An embalmer who did that for my family is the reason I found this vocation, why I feel called to it; getting to say goodbye to my *dad* again, instead of the wasted grey sack of agony that had been suffering in his bed for the last five years, was the single most healing experience I have ever had. I finally understood the expression, a balm for the soul. )
      As you can imagine, this is painstaking, meticulous, slow work. So much of it is stopping and looking, looking, and then looking again from a different angle; you’re bent over a table for five hours, but 90% of the work is going on in your head.
      A lot of highly successful and respected embalmers look at the job as just that, a task of pushing formaldehyde through as much of a body’s circulatory system as possible. They ignore the influences of pathologies and physical traits, and they SURE as hell ignore the influence of personality on facial expressions. They put a smile on everyone, even when the closest to “peacefully happy” you can get crotchety Aunt Sue to realistically look is “restful and dignified.” They memorize the anatomy for the boards and then promptly forget all of it except the locations and names of commonly injected vessels and major organs. They ignore the psychology and sociology of death care, because that’s the funeral director’s job. (Whenever possible, I try to serve my families in all functions, from taking the first call to picking up and embalming, dressing, cosmetizing, and posing the body to working with them on arrangements and directing the funeral, to cremating them myself, when cremation is chosen. The only reason I don’t try to dig the graves is no one will let me drive the backhoe XD)
      And in the industry, it’s all about your stats. How many cases. What’s your time.
      Even with “straight” cases, I’m way slower than most embalmers, because I don’t embalm bodies, I embalm individuals, unique people whose bodies are not exactly like any other body on earth. With my experience, a straight case “should” take me forty minutes. My lowest record so far is an hour and fifteen. Autopsies? Three hours, easy, rather than the expected one.
      And it is frustrating because I do it so damn well, and I recognize that, and take a whole lot of pride in my skill and my reputation, but still feel so much anxiety, so many doubts that I’m deluded, that really, I am a stupid clumsy embalmer because I am at least as slow as any apprentice.
      Hell, it’s right there in the informal usage of the word, “Oh honey, your friend isn’t stupid, he’s just slow.” When it became unacceptable to refer to some neuroatypical people as “retarded”, most people switched to “slow.”
      All this time, I’ve thought my irrationally high levels of insecurity about my skill were general, wrapped up in doubt about my work itself, and reading your comment, I had a lightbulb moment — well, DUH, Misty, it’s not about sucking, it’s about being slow and not recognizing that slowness as a HUGE advantage, a necessity to perform to the standards I set myself.
      I’m going to start trying to give myself permission to say, to myself and others, “I am the slowest embalmer you’ll ever meet, but that’s why I’m also one of the very best embalmers you’ll ever meet.”
      Thank you for sharing that, you just made a huge difference for me. And thanks to our gracious host for allowing me to work through this in realtime and clog up the feed.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Wow! That was an absolutely amazing description of what you do (externally but also what’s going on internally, in your head and heart!) What a treasure you give to families!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Misty and Becca and all of you, these detailed, thoughtful, sensitive vulnerable, comments add a lot to this blog. They could be posts in themselves and I may just quote some of you in the future. Thank you!!

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      • I am in awe of the work you do. What a gift to families. I’m glad my comment was helpful to you. Not sure when I discovered the “slow” thing. It also goes with simplification. My mind works much better when I have a short to-do list and a clutter-free space. Can’t always manage it, but it helps.

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      • Speed == “efficiency” == more money made in the marketplace. Comes back to David Fleming’s “taut economy” that squeezes out everything except monetary efficiency. Highest price and lowest quality the market will bear. There are better ways to live.

        Thank you for your work, and your attention to the spirits of those who have departed, and those who remain.

        Liked by 3 people

    • Becca, thank you for this; it describes me in many ways, including the need for blocks of time for focused, non face-to-face with people tasks. I’m just coming to accept this and learning to plan for it, instead of yelling at myself for not moving in and out of that work fast and without downtime in between.

      I would encourage you to really research employment in the arenas where counseling is paid work. Your sentence “Chronic understaffing is something that gets me every time.” Makes me write this. I’ve been a counselor (LCSW) for close to thirty years. I love it and am good at many aspects of it. But from my vantage, almost every paid counseling setting is chronically understaffed. This is partly because it is not highly paid and parent agencies are not highly solvent, so there is a LOT of management struggle to get more work out of providers (counselors of various stripes). The pay and pressure cause people to leave, hence the understaffing.

      To avoid the management pressures, people do private practice, but most find the fight with insurance to be soul-killing and often impossible to win—if winning I means getting paid at a rate that can support you. These are large corporations that make a profit by not paying out as much money as they take in. (They are causing MDs to flee their field, as well, and they’ve put in an unbelievable amount of years, money, and identity for training.)

      If you can find a niche and a location where you can get paid out-of-pocket by wealthy people, without concern for insurance reimbursement, it may be the most viable path to being solvent without soul killing hours and processes. I’m not being sarcastic at all, but you will need to aim carefully to offer a specialty that works in that market.

      I don’t say this to discourage you, but it’s a field where it’s important to look at the reality of how it works as opposed to how it seems like it should work. I’d really recommend some informational interviews with providers in a variety of settings.

      I hope you find a niche that truly works as it should, and I don’t mean to rain on a parade. I think this is a spot on your path where careful map and compass work may serve you immensely in the next part of your travels.

      Also, note that graduate students in internships are often given the luxury of slower, less pressured work—agencies have them do what the supervising providers wish they could be doing, and live a little vicariously, while knowing they cannot afford/are not staffed or permitted to do that level of work themselves.

      I hope you find a niche that truly works as it should, and I don’t mean to rain on a parade. I think this is a spot on your path where careful map and compass work may serve you immensely in the next part of your travels.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helpful ideas, EWF. I’m in private practice and only bill 2 insurance companies. The rest is private pay. And I have a sliding scale so it’s more affordable. That would be a way for someone to go who’s interested in counseling. There certainly is a need for therapists who understand giftedness!

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      • Thank you so much, EWF, for taking the time to share your wealth of experience. Because of my past software engineering work and my husband’s patient investing and budgeting, I am in the fortunate position of not having to earn as much as others who are not in our position (plus we are super frugal). And he has offered to handle billing insurance for me, so that I can focus on the part of the work I enjoy. I also will be attending a very affordable school, so the debt burden won’t be big upon getting my degree.

        I am pretty flexible. I imagine that I will do agency work while I’m working on licensure, and then decide if I want to continue with that on a part time basis while I start a private practice. My intent on continuing with agency work would be to have an ongoing opportunity to work with low-income people. Because of my personal makeup, I believe it would be difficult for me to just target wealthy people. They have so many options of people to work with. If I can make it work financially, I’d love to have a practice that includes people of all means. I know from trying to get a family member help that it can be very difficult to find therapists who have the time and spaciousness to address the multiple issues that many poor people face.

        I want to keep the idea of a niche open, but the somatic work I do lends itself toward helping people heal from trauma, so I may well focus there. I’m also naturally interested in being a further resource for gifted people in healing from the specific trauma that we endure in a world that doesn’t know what to do with us. And, I’m open to other possibilities opening up as I dive into getting my degree and navigating (from a different perspective) the world of counseling.

        Thanks again for your care. And thank you too, Paula, for sharing how you do the financial balancing in your own practice.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t use the word “gifted” at all. If talking about it is necessary, I shrug and talk about being in the third or fourth standard deviation. Almost no one has a visceral feel for what that means — they can’t grasp an exponential curve, much less a Gaussian distribution. People think linearly, so its disarming: it’s like I can do four push-ups to their one or two. No big deal. And, of course, nearly all of them are in the first standard deviation, so they automatically start at one. If they look puzzled, I just smile and say, “I’m on the weird fringe.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, I think it can be tricky to use the g word. Many people won’t know what you mean or will act offended or judgmental. So, either way, describing what that means is helpful, if you’re in a situation where you want to be understood.

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    • wow. hello soul sister! thank you for your contribution.

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  14. Oh my goodness, Paula, it’s like you spend a lot of time with these people or something. 😉 This is spot on, and described me and my friends in ways I would never have thought to point out as significant, except perhaps to berate myself for not being good at answering “how are you.” Thanks for this wonderful post!

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  15. I have just read your article on rebellesociety.com, and now this one. it fits 100%. I’m crying now. I just downloaded your book and will start reading right away.

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  16. Hi Paula,

    I ordered your book and it arrived yesterday. So of course I read it in one sitting.

    I just want to say thank you. Sometimes I take for granted how much work it is to try to control the flow of the fire hose. I am not always successful at it. Your book affirms for me that I need to have more opportunities to be myself rather than perpetually make myself acceptable for work situations that want me to be smaller. There are many times where it is helpful and necessary to control the flow of the firehose. It is unsustainable to live my whole life that way.

    Thank you. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the feedback on my book, Becca. Yes, finding that balance around the flow of the firehose. Allowing yourself to be authentically you. It’s a challenging dance. Appreciate hearing from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. In third grade my teacher had my IQ tested for placement in “special education” because long division made me hyperventilate and I couldn’t carry on a conversation with other kids. Told me, “this is to see if you need to be in a class that’s a little slower, like you.”
    I don’t know if the school made her do it, but she wrote me and my parents a letter of apology when the score came in.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I was put at a table with the learning disabled kids when I was in third grade. And then they tested me. Lol. I was dreamy and slow. Still am on good days when I can give myself that gift. 🙂

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  18. I’m glad you wrote, Justin. It could be good if you read more of my blog and if you read my bio. I’ve had years of working with gifted kids and then adults and so I’m very familiar with their characteristics. Of course, they’re all complex and different but I’ve noticed some similarities in social and emotional issues, at least among the rainforest-minded type. Maybe if you read a few more posts, it’ll start to make more sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I hate it when people ask my favorite book. How on Earth do they think I could choose just one? Or favorite song? or even favorite genre? Impossible. I’m 48 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m halfway through my teaching certification and about 10 percent into my first novel right now. And your article made me cry. As usual. And your timing was perfect, as usual.
    Thank you so much for your blog. It feels so good to be understood every week or two, even if it’s by someone I’ve never met.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I agree that more needs to be done. Many times I was told, “You’re too sensitive” by my mother, of all people. I wish she had said what I should do with those feelings I couldn’t help having. I really enjoyed your post. My informal diagnosis of gifted children is children who talk like little adults. Now I have a definition of gifted adults, too. I’ll be sure to credit you.

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  21. That’s a very sweet piece. Thanks. The end caught me by surprise and brought a short, sweet tear to my eye.

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  22. I so completely resemble this: They may look ungifted because they forget your birthday, can’t find their keys, and don’t finish their 13 on-going projects that are spread all over the house.

    Also, small talk: why, oh why do people want to spend so much time discussing the minutiae of everyday life when we could be discussing the “why” instead?!

    Thank you for this article. It’s nice when someone gets it.

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  23. Thank you. These days I find myself searching less for ways to help others understand and more so being alone. I now have a career where I work from home and report to a board and it couldn’t be more perfect. This was on time to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I read this post and the comments and it felt like a glimpse into my daughter’s future. It is a good reminder to me not to forget that there are others out there and to help her find them!
    Right now (high school) she is working on a group project to create a children’s book. The first night she came home very excited and planned it all out, basically wrote the first draft, sketched the illustrations and has now spent a week stressing over the real challenges: how to get the others in her group to think some of it was their idea and contribute quality work.
    She says group projects are like having her wings clipped. I tend to tell her things like “the other part is easy for you, so understanding and arranging people is the challenge for you in school” or “working with others is the most important ability to develop” but more and more I am realizing how horribly discontented she is, trying to adapt herself to the coop and it’s mediocrity. Too much manipulating people can be unhealthy and exhausting – it is important to have a meeting of like minds occasionally in order not to become stunted. I don’t like the distain for others that she sometimes expresses in her frustration!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, yes. Group projects for gifted kids are often painful, unless all of the kids are gifted. Your daughter is not alone!! You might talk with her about the disdain and the value of compassion but also validate her frustrations, too.

      Like

  25. I’m 50, I feel, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Sometimes I fight hopeless feelings, all the inventions i’ve Come up with and no one to encourage or support me in making them alive and no longer a space in my head. I had such drive and intensity, my spark of hope fades. I wanted to be so many things and feel I have been none. These creations are a child needing to be born,a miscarriage if not.
    I found a book the Gifted adult, i’ve Read it slowly like the Bible, slowly chewing each word, because somehow this woman who wrote it is writing to me, calling me to come out before it’s too late, that i’m Not the nothing the enemy within wants me to believe. I hope I listen.
    I hope my three sons listen. I don’t want them to miss out on being the real “them” and let others press them back into the “normal” mold.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I was identified as an elementary student, but now as an adult I no longer feel gifted. Restless and discontent with the humdrum, yes. Idealistic, sure, but also pragmatic. I enjoy both deep conversations and banter, though not chitting the chat. I’ve joined gifted groups for adults and feel like even more of an outsider (not that I was ever an insider anywhere), but I have trouble connecting even with them. So is it denial or have I never truly been gifted? I wonder.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I found your blog a few years ago when my son was identified as gifted in elementary school. I had decided to homeschool him, but was worried I wouldn’t be able to give him the education he needed (his last teacher questioned me), so I began doing research on gifted children to better tailor his education.
    That’s when I found your blog. The first post I read had me in tears. It caught me so off guard, but there I was trying to understand my son, and was slapped in the face with a perfect description of myself. It broke me. Yet, it helped to heal me as well. I wasn’t crazy after all. Or maybe I was, but at least I understood MYSELF better, too. I finally understood and I wasn’t alone.
    Thank you. Thank you SO much for sharing your wisdom and observations. You have no idea how much you have blessed me.
    God bless,
    Cynthia

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Dear Paula,

    Oh, WOW! I just read your post and, as you can imagine, I have trouble writing this because my eyes are so full of tears. Thanks a million.
    I was diagnosed at age 6 (my mother half-thought I was retarded, or at least very strange), did not realize what it meant, and forgot about it
    A few years ago, I started searching “surdoué” (I’m French) on in the Internet and found out (I may have had some vague memories from childhood). I asked my family, and they told me about the test I’d taken when I was a child. They believed I had been aware I was gifted all these years and that I’d been taking care of myself and needed no help. I was aware I was different from others, but never thought I was actually “gifted”.
    Therefore, I went through childhood and early adult life without understanding why I felt so out of place and different and stressed. And happy with myself and my books.

    I love the “questions” part. It feels very familiar, octopus included!!!
    I am nicknamed “Madeleine” because there is a French expression that says “pleurer comme une madeleine” (“crying like Madeleine”, referring to Mary Magdalene in the Bible).
    I read a lot in French and English, am nearly fluent in Spanish (“nearly” because of lack of practice and motivation. Actually,I can teach technical topics in Spanish), can read Arabic (read, not understand), can understand a conversation in Breton (I’m from Brittany) and am currently learning Finnish (starting, actually). I write stories. I lose my keys. I am working in environment protection. Was class delegate all my childhood. Bicker a lot with Management at work. Am unable to lie. Cannot choose where to eat. Got pretty close to burn-out several times. I want to learn Icelandic and Inuktitut. Most people think I am a simpleton. I get on well with autistic children. Or people with Down syndrom. My house looks like a mess and I don’t know how to dress.

    I feel totally retarded and different from others. I also feel happy I’m like this, because I have many reasons to enjoy life. I can feel extremely happy watching a bird, or a spider. I yell “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW” every night when I realize I didn’t make any mistake in the “harjoitus” (this is “exercise”, in Finnish). I’m not good with money, or everyday life. I am so stressed and bored by small talk that it makes me physically ill (I’m good at vomitting).

    Etc, etc, etc.

    The most difficult part is to tell people “I’m gifted”, because they think you’re boasting, which is exactly the opposite of the idea you’re trying to express. To me, it means “different” or “handicapped”. I am also physically disabled (but this is not obvious at first); so I have the vocabulary at hand, but still… I only tell people I really like (meaning I told like 5 people so far), but the way they react is… difficult to handle.

    Sooo… thank you again for expressing all this in a few words. You’re magic. This feels incredibly good. And helpful after a complicated day at work (nothing complicated to do, but too many human beings).

    Becca’s post is also, well… very good. Thank you Becca, this is like warm light. I need the magic wand too!

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Pingback: standing still in a widening circle | sun opposite moon

  30. Dear Paula,

    I heeded your advice and continued to read your blog, (sure, it took me a few days to gather the courage to come back, – but come back, I did.)

    First of all, I wonder, is it possible to have a Rainforest Mind (RFM) without being necessarily an intellectually gifted individual? Because I don’t feel gifted (the explanation as to why is three paragraphs below) while, at the same time, I fit the RFM profile; after all, I can admit to being an intense, and out-of-the-box-creative mess of a person, – the overall More-ness and Dabrowski-an Overexcitabilities represent me; hence, why I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. Nonetheless, as I have stated before in a different post that I don’t feel different even though I am, well, perceived as different (i. e. I’ve been told so, repeatedly, by multiple people. Of course, the amount of condescendence and/or concern in their prosody and speech varied, so it wasn’t so boring listening to the same sentence over and over again.)

    However, I asked my family and friends to describe some of my traits, which had to be present throughout my childhood and adulthood. Thus, I have gathered the following information about myself: (I) I am intense; (II) apparently, highly intelligent (I’d go with Average, based on the fact that I know people whose intellect far surpasses mine); (III) I have a one-track mind, at times i. e. I become absorbed in a topic for an nth amount of time and can barely talk about anything other than my temporal passion(s); (IV) hyperactive and too sensitive to a) sounds e. g. loud mastication drives me crazy, b) light, c) temperature, and d) people and their moods, because I can read their expressions, so I know when they’re sad/angry/being judgemental/etc; (V) stubborn and insanely impatient; (VI) eccentric and perfectionistic, and (VII) too emotional, – I have to agree. I am emotional and a little extreme about it: I do not get sad, I become inconsolable, – should something bring me joy, I explode with manic energy. I cried for an entire hour because a professor gave me the stink eye in class, I cried when I first understood how small I was in contrast to the Universe, I cried when I first saw the Nutcracker in a theater, and so and so on. Thus I believe that I partially fit the RFM profile.

    Not to mention that I am a ‘’multipotentialite’’, too – I write, paint, model figures with clay, and draw. I’m currently teaching myself Chinese (because I’m obsessed with their history and literature). I taught myself English, French and Portuguese. Moreover, I learned the Greek, Russian and Katakana/Hiragana alphabets. And I’m currently learning how to play the Piano (I have composed some simple pieces in the two weeks that I’ve been learning. I’m (insert expletive here) proud of myself!), and I do a little bit of everything, actually, – … my résumé and interests prove it.

    Nonetheless, I am unable to imagine myself being intellectually gifted; maybe I am talented, as I excel in the fine arts. The reason is that, while I am becoming more and more brilliant as I age – and I believe this enlightenment comes with adulthood -, I was not a particularly bright adolescent. After all, I wasn’t (keyword: past tense -> wasn’t) ABLE to learn Math or any foreign language beyond a C+/B- grade until after I graduated, – when I turned 18, I decided to learn English on my own, outside of the system. It was a Language I didn’t know anything about, I couldn’t say anything to save my life, – and in 5 months I could write, read and speak it with enough fluency to be praised on by Native Speakers. Sure, my English is still subpar, yet people understand me and that’s what counts. But, what about Mathematics? Well, I wasn’t brilliant at it, that’s for sure, – but I am now. I understand it, I see it, I feel it, I live it. (I’m over-over-overgeneralizing, here, for I can’t understand all things Math. After all, it’s such a huge field and I’ve only begun to scratch its surface. The thing is, I went from zero to a thousand, and, as I told you in a different post, I’m switching from Economics to a Mathematics Major this year-2019. That’s how much I like it.) But I don’t think that’s because I’m exceptional or ‘’gifted’’. The reason why is that I’m an adult now, therefore my brain has developed, my experiences have helped pave new synaptic pathways and whatnot. In short, that development has allowed me to achieve things my younger self was (painfully) incapable of. I can learn anything I want NOW, because my brain has evolved, I’ve grown, I reckon, any adult can do what I did.

    After all, how can I be special when I’ve known babies, children and people in general with more brain cells and talent in their right pinky finger than I have in my whole head? (Not that I’m stupid, I’m just Average…).

    But my question remains, can I have a RFM without being ”intellectually gifted”? I am talented, but not intellectually so. I know it because I could be more… and I am not.

    Greetings,

    René, a twenty-three-year old girl who is very confused and has wimore questions than answers.

    Ps.: I’m a very messy, very lazy writer, – sorry. I didn’t proofread, sorry, again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m smiling, René. You are describing an intellectually gifted person for sure. Even in your doubts, which I hear over and over from many. In my definition of a RFM, it does include advanced intellectual abilities. You certainly don’t have to be advanced in all areas. And there is certainly a spectrum. Some people are moderately gifted, some profoundly. And, of course, my assessment is purely anecdotal and based on my experience knowing so many RFMs over the years. One thing that might confuse you is that it sounds like you didn’t excel in school. School isn’t necessarily the best place for RFMs to thrive. No, any adult can not do what you can do…So those are some of my thoughts. I’m glad you’re still reading. Your comments will help others here so thank you!

      Like

      • I thank you, repeatedly. I’ll keep everything you told me (i. e. wrote to me) in mind while I continue searching for information. After all, I still have a plethora of questions with respect to the degree of cognitive divergence between (i. e. both the cognoscitive abilities and cognitive development of) a) an adult of average intelligence, and b) a moderately gifted adult. (…) Because I am sure that my intelligence in/aptitude for certain activities peaked at the onset of adulthood. Maybe I just became more aware of my own capabilities, – maybe my developing brain caught up with my potential… maybe I am overreacting.

        I had this (erroneous, perhaps) idea that giftedness came with a particular (-ly spectacular) way to see the World; wonderfully expressed in the typical Q: is your green the same as mine? question.

        In a way, I picture it as something less humorous (and more abstract) than the following example:

        P1: Is your green under the same color gradient as mine? Does it have the same texture and the same smell of petrichor as mine?

        P2 (Gifted): No, I see it Mathematically (…) as Green’s Theorem.

        P1: Oh, welp.

        Greetings,

        R.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Rene, you don’t giive yourself enough credit. I read your “average” achievements, and I have to say, there is NO WAY on G-d’s green earth that someone as amazingly intelligent as you (never mind math; I have an IQ 4 standard deviations above average, aka “exceptionally gifted” or what used to be called “genius”, and I am TERRIBLE at maths) is NOT a gifted individual. You are far too hard on yourself. Give yourself some credit. Sure there are some people smarter than you, and there always will be, because extremely few (like about ten or so in the world) have an IQ similar to that of the late physicist Stephen Hawking (probably above the 200 mark). Do yourself a favour, and stop beating yourself up, and just go with the EVIDENCE: you possess not just an RFM, but a BRILLIANT RFM as well. Please, re-read your own writing and ask yourself, do truly “average” people achieve what you have done? No, they don’t — never mind about math. The mark of a gifted person isn’t just an ability to do math or physics. I’ve heard that over and over again, and it makes no sense. Many of the great writers weren’t likely math whizzes, but they sure could write. You should research Howard Gardner’s work on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. That may help you to understand you don’t have to be great at math to be a spectacularly smart person, as you so obviously are.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are too kind, thank you. I’ll try to lower my expectations on what I *should* and *could* be.

        Moreover, you’re right, not every one of us (humans) can be a precocious Terence Tao or a Stephen Hawking (otherwise we’d be living in a vastly different World). Nonetheless, I didn’t mean to imply that Numerical Ability was The One True Hallmark Trait of Giftedness. I went more on a tangent to explain that I couldn’t be intellectually gifted due to my strange cognitive development.

        Allow me to explain that while I was bad at both Language and Mathematics when I was a teenager, I am not so terrible anymore (sure, I am not Chomsky, or Gauss or Leibniz… not even close). I am not sure what happened, perhaps all it took was for me to become interested in the subjects. But it happened after I grew up, – so I associate that change in aptitude with adulthood rather than any sort of innate potential.

        I still find it hard to imagine that people, in general, cannot do what I can because from where I stand (not the same point in space as I once was as a teenager) it doesn’t seem complicated at all.

        On the other hand, I’m going to research about the Multiple Intelligence. Once again, thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  31. Pingback: “Are you gifted?” – Ms. Emily Wong

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