Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Nobody Likes a Know-It-All and Other Familiar Refrains That Gifted Souls Endure


photo courtesy of Annie Sprat, Unsplash

Have you heard any of these all-too-familiar refrains?

Who do you think you are? You think you’re so smart. Ha! You made a mistake! Nobody likes a know-it-all. You are such a nerd, geek, loser, dork. You’re too loud, curious, sensitive, dramatic, and intense. Why can’t you ever be satisfied? Why are you so critical? Stop asking so many questions. You think too much. Lower your standards and expectations. You’re not allowed to read ahead. Don’t be a show-off. Why did you get that B? You think you’re better than us. You’re not working up to your potential. Just pick something already! You’re changing jobs again? Why can’t you just be happy?

We need to start a club. The I-don’t-care-what-you-think-of-me-anymore club.

We’ll have meetings. You can talk about gravitational waves or dark matter or metaphysics or your latest passion for hazelnuts. You can change careers every two+ years. You can make really big mistakes. You can ask questions that no one can answer. You can read more than one book at a time. You don’t have to finish a project if you’ve already learned what you want to learn. You can be super intense and super intuitive and no one will run away. You can be enthusiastic about libraries. You can read a book a day. You can be in therapy for ten years. You can binge watch Doctor Who, again. You can be optimistic about the future. You can explain the connection between chess, illusionists, martial artists, and heart rate variability (thank you Josh Waitzkin) and we’ll all be fascinated. You can say that you’re gifted.

Of course, I don’t want you to stop caring about others. I don’t want you to lose your sweet empathy. I just want you to consider that what others think of you may come from their own misunderstandings, insecurities, envy, and confusion. Not from reality. Not from an accurate assessment of the truth of who you are.

Even if it’s your parents and other family members who’ve known you since you were a little tyke. They still might be coming from misunderstandings, insecurities, envy, and confusion. Naturally, your family members have a huge impact on your self-perception so it may be hard to not-care-what-they-think-of-you-anymore. I understand. It’s hard to not want their approval, acceptance, and understanding.

But if they don’t really know you, or they can’t understand you, or if they outright reject you?  If they say that you’re too sensitive, too critical, too intense, and a know-it-all?

Well, then, we’ll make you club president.


To my darling bloggEEs:  I realize that you don’t all live in Eugene, Oregon. So we may have to settle for meeting here at our RFM blog clubhouse until you all move to Oregon. But I have an idea. Consider starting a silent book reading group in your town. Or see if there’s already one that you can attend. I bet you that some other RFMs will appear.

And until your in-person club gets started, here’s a video version of what it’s like to have a rainforest mind and not be, um, understood. You’ll want to watch it to the end (it’s short and fun). Thank you to my lovely friend Grace for sharing it.

Please tell us your thoughts. What else would you want us to include in our club? What are the familiar refrains that you’ve heard? 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.

47 thoughts on “Nobody Likes a Know-It-All and Other Familiar Refrains That Gifted Souls Endure

  1. “You think you’re so PERFECT!” screamed at me, the person who is sure she is horribly imperfect because she examines every thought, word and deed for how it will be unacceptable and misunderstood by everyone around me.
    Just another for the list, Paula.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The second-to-last day before the sudden end of a three-month-long temp assignment, my supervisor told me, “Nobody likes a know-it-all.” I promptly replied, “Oh… did you hear that phrase a lot growing up?” I meant it sincerely and I thought it was terrible for someone to have to hear that as a child. It didn’t occur to me that I had roasted her until a month later. LOL!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh dear. I wonder what she thought of your reply!!


    • I have said so many things that I didn’t “know what I said” until later! Or as it’s coming out in mid sentence, lol… They’re usually funny but in an odd way, like a pun, or something that can be taken more than one way. Sometimes I think later, “oh, I wonder if she thought that was funny or not?”! Sometimes I say things that I mean innocently but I realize as it comes out that it could have a risque kind of meaning, and people crack up laughing and I’m doing the Pee-Wee Herman move: “uh, yeah, I meant to do that!”

      On the flip side, sometimes in a stressful situation I can’t find the words, or I’m too nice, then later I stew about it, wishing I’d said something else 😦 There are even a few things that bug me years later, wishing I’d thought of something brave or clever while I was actually just blank.


      Liked by 1 person

      • When there’s so much going on in your thoughts (RFMs often have more than one track going at a time), communication isn’t always smooth or clear. Then, of course, there are factors like stress that add to the difficulty. Thanks for sharing, Kim.


  3. My favorite one lately is “don’t borrow trouble” when I knew someone I dearly loved was dying. I am so grateful for intuition. I was able to be there and help him transition.
    Great article, Paula!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, yes. I didn’t get told that in so many words … but I was the one freaking out about the lack of available pastors (they were all coincidentally unavailable the same night, and I had that gut feeling … ) and sure enough, that was when it happened. And though I was panicked, also grateful that I’d seen one of my pastors in action before so I’d seen the kinds of things to say, both for the person and for their family. But it was a scary burden to carry. I hadn’t met anyone else who’s said they had to do this (other than actual ministerial types) till you posted this … thank you for sharing.


    • Thanks, Cheri. Intuition is often a part of rainforest-mindedness. I’m so glad you could be there for him.


  4. It’s a delicate balancing act, between taking up the space I need and allowing for others to have their own. But once in a while, when I’ve had exactly the right amount of coffee, I can unleash my full force on this place, unapologetically, and take up the entire room. This is precisely what I needed to read today. Thank you!
    PS: we need a coffee machine for the clubhouse, and a couch, and snacks. And windows!!! (I am picturing an elaborate treehouse very high up, looking over fields and trees and clouds.)

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I’ve been told “Oh, I don’t bother with trivia; who has room for all that in their mind anyway?” And I finally realized, well, for me it’s not trivia … it’s all relevant to something, and I can quote where and what and why. I’m just luckier about being able to pull out relevant items, so (alas) I do well on trivia games. On the other hand, when I finally had that epiphany, I was able to have that conversation with my dearly beloved, and he was able to see it from another point of view … he’s plenty gifted himself, and he was feeling inferior when he’s truly not. As I told my therapist one time when he came with me, “Between us both, we know everything!” LOL. Our strengths are complementary, not competitive, and that’s how we try to keep it … but we BOTH have to remember, when we compare, that our measuring stick is NOT a fair comparison! (He frets that he can’t read fast, but compares to me, and I’m a born speed reader. I remind him that he speed-maths the way I speed-read … neither one of us has anything to complain about or compare with.) It’s been an interesting marriage, and our kids are the oddest combination of both of us, poor darlings.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s the gifted mind: “It’s all relevant to something.” Thank you for sharing, Kristen.

      Liked by 1 person

    • This reminds me of a thought I had the other day. I was pondering getting teased about all the “trivia” I know. Like the proper names for birds and trees and things. I was sitting by a river at the time, naming the birds that flew by (or trying to). And a little voice in my head said “Because this stuff *matters* to me!” I hereby recover the right to avoid anyone who belittles my interests as trivia!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes! Not trivia. Intense desire and capacity to learn, to know, to explore. Depth. Attention to detail. Appreciation of life!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I and many of my friends have been teased (and good-naturedly teased each other) about trivial knowledge. But. Here is the other secret about “trivia,” which many of you may have already discovered: you never know when it will come in handy, or when it may apply. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not this year. But some day, maybe. In some completely unexpected way, emergency, or off-the-side conversation, or even just as some sly joke in a movie that nobody else gets. And doubly, you never know when all the sudden you might realize, ah-ha, THAT is what I’m going to do with this random information! Even ten or twenty years down the line. It happens.

        There’s nothing wrong with knowledge for knowledge’s sake or the sake of joy.

        And it’s only trivia to the rest of the world until you realize how you’re going to use it.

        (I know the scientific names and even the Latin roots of those names for a lot of organisms also, and it’s been weird and delightful what that has given me insight into over the years.)

        Besides, what joy to be in a room with other gifted friends, and for a random question to come up, and chances are good that somebody knows the answer. Even though it has nothing to do with our daily lives. I think that’s just beautiful. And then the conversation blooms that much faster.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. How do you always speak so clearly to me?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Greatly appreciate your posts!! They always make me relax a bit and help me to accept myself. And they help me to feel connected to those who are like me : ) ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Or, how about the looks you get? —The look when you come up with yet another great idea. —The look you get when you point out the moire pattern if you stare at the inside bottom edge of the revolving door while walking in the opposite direction of its spin. —And, the eye roll when you blurt out that if there is a person at the exact opposite spot on the Earth to where you’re standing right now, you wonder what they’re doing. Just can’t help it.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I just got rejected from another one of my attempts to enter society. A very important and motivating opportunity for me. This time the gatekeeper was a professor of mine, whose class I attended recently. I always sensed a little tension between us, but shrugged it off as my typical paranoia. But now that he was deciding my fate and future he kept telling me I seem to want “special treatment” and deemed I wasn’t motivated enough for this particular thing because I seemed to be unfocused with too many interests. Despite my most sincere attempts to convince him that I was going to utilize every atom of my being with my intense focus. But no, I was a weird, arrogant hack, that was his analysis, and he didnt even bother to hide his contempt. Back to sitting in my room.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m so glad you posted about this! Just yesterday I was thinking to myself, “I need to relearn how to feel free to make mistakes and be OK with being an inquisitive person.” I realized that because of grade school bullies that would give me a hard time for being me, they would say things like “if you’re so smart, why did you get that wrong?” Decades later I’m still trying to be OK with being human and not worry, feel embarrassed, or freak out when I mess up! Thank you for this blog and for your book and for helping me to realize all that I am is totally OK!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t choose if I am happy that you put into words what I have felt for 38 years or sad that this club sounds like the thing I have been searching for the same number of years. Let’s settle for melancholy and Fernweh (homesick for a place you have never been)

    And can we add; collecting words that sound great or have beautiful meaning in any language to our club subjects?… 🤔 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my, yes. Collecting words. Fernweh. Yes.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That would be a fun club addition.

      Serendipity is my favorite word!

      But I have another one that I can’t remember or track down. It was in my old history of world dance text book. It was a three or four letter word that meant “dancing” and “living” simultaneously, I think it was Egyptian. I don’t guess you know it? I just love how it meshes both meanings into one.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I came across an Egyptian dance called “trf”. Could this be the word?

        “Dancing played a vital role in the lives of the ancient Egyptians. The trf was a dance performed by a pair of men during the Old Kingdom. Dance groups were accessible to perform at dinner parties, banquets, lodging houses, and even religious temples. Some women from wealthy harems were trained in music and dance. They danced for royalty accompanied by male musicians playing on guitars, lyres and harps. However, no well-bred Egyptian would dance in public, because that was the privilege of the lower classes. Wealthy Egyptians kept slaves to entertain at their banquets, and present pleasant diversion to their owners.” — Wikipedia

        Liked by 1 person

  12. “Weirdo” and “dork” is just meaningless whitenoise to me at this point. The aggravating things are not so much familiar refrains as things like…

    Trying unsuccessfully to convince doctors or others that there is something wrong with me and I need help, because everything “looks normal” to them… but it’s NOT normal for *ME.* But you’re doing fine. No, normally I’m doing much, much better!!

    Or trying to convince people that I am perfectly fine when I appear abnormal. (I am not drunk or on stimulants. I am *happy* and *excited* about something they aren’t interested in! Maybe I am not depressed; maybe I am spontaneously and seriously into staring intently at the patterns ants are walking on the ground, and analyzing how those patterns are affected by obstacles and other insects and stimuli, and I have no desire to talk to a human while I’m doing that. ) And no, I don’t need as much human interaction as you do, and that’s not unhealthy, it’s just a thing. It’s ok for me to not want to do social activities all the time like everyone else; going home after work isn’t a gateway to pathology and I talk to you guys all. The. Time.

    And all along I’m just tired of justifying myself and consoling other people about how I am. Just let me be. Just let me read on the floor instead of a chair even though I’m 36 and wearing business clothes. Why do they even care how I sit? Explaining myself all the time can be exhausting! Besides, I’m already wearing these silly pointless work clothes for them, so I’m meeting them half way in terms of conformity.

    I’m tired of explaining why I do what I do. I want to just do.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Ok so I think I’m ready to run for Club President now.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Where do I join the club I’m already unofficially a part of?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you so much for this. I can say that I’ve found a place to talk about all these things and be accepted in Mensa, but I’d love to join your club, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thank you so much for this post!

    I need this club!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. There are some online communities.. Puttytribe is one of them. I know there are others. It is hard to find in person kindred spirits but when you do…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “Great At Work” by Morten Hansen, 2018, ISBN 978 1 4767 6562 4 has some research documenting seven principles that lead to success at work and has insights about how they apply to work life balance at the end. Several of them can be practical channels for our natural gifted characteristics and help provide insights into when to share and when to refrain from sharing our knowledge, wisdom, and experience.

    Meanwhile, glad there’s a club meeting in the treehouse! Safe spaces are needed around the globe. Perhaps many of us can have one in our own backyards.

    Liked by 1 person

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