Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Gifted And Lonely In Belgium


photo courtesy of Hector Martinez, Unsplash

Just yesterday, 26 people in Bangladesh and 9 in Qatar were reading my blog. 10 in South Africa, 12 in Turkey, 1 in Kenya, and 6 in Sudan, among many others, around the world. We are not alone, my dearest rainforest-minded darlings. We are not alone.

Of course, you may still feel lonely. Like Elien, in Belgium. An “outsider.” Learning came easily when she was younger but she was bullied by the other students and even by teachers for her enthusiasm. For knowing the answers and wanting to share them. As in many countries, schooling was focused on the slower learners, so she was frustrated, waiting for others to catch up. Waiting to learn something new. Waiting for someone who could understand her musings.

That said, like many of you, she did not believe she was gifted. She never managed to find success in higher education, and so, was underestimated by others, and by herself. She dealt with a disabling fear of failure. She was told she was “too much, too sensitive, too intense, a dreamer, an idealist, naive…” and more. Sound familiar? She wrote, “…The suffering in the world affects me so deeply that I sometimes have to shut myself off completely.”

Elien was looking for purpose. She wanted to trust herself. She tried therapy because, she said, “…I have a lot of trauma attached to the misunderstanding and loneliness I felt as a child and the fact that I got emotionally neglected and never learned to trust in myself and my abilities…”

In therapy, she felt something was missing because her therapist did not recognize her particular complexity and the issues that arose very specifically due to her rainforest mind. The issues you know so well: high sensitivity, emotionality, and intensity, pressure to achieve at high levels, excessive fear of failure, thirst for learning and meaning, schooling disappointments, multiple interests and abilities, painful personal and planetary empathy, and the extreme loneliness of being misunderstood and unseen.

Elien told me finding my blog/books and recognizing herself in them was a very emotional experience. Crying “intensely” and reading “in stages.” Accepting that she might be highly gifted, was a game changer. She wrote, “I believed I was an outsider who would always be lonely, there was this invisible wall and I couldn’t figure out why…Now I know why I have such a problem with structure, with authority, why I have this high sense of justice that many others don’t understand…I need to be and work free and autonomously…why I struggle with communication, although I am outgoing and social, why I rarely truly get along with someone and always had to tone down my energy…my urge for deep conversation and my spirit for intense humor and connection…I gave a deep sigh of relief in discovering this…I cried quite a bit, too, for all the years that I have been deeply frustrated, angry at myself, talked myself down, deeply doubted myself…”

And so, my RFMs in Belgium, Bangladesh, Qatar, and, oh, everywhere, do not despair. As you realize who you really are, as you start to celebrate your magnificent rainforest-ness in all of its deep, lush, colorful, powerful, passionate beauty, you will be found. You Will Be Found.

Thank you to the American musical, Dear Evan Hansen


To my bloggEEs: I am so grateful for you. I hope you are all safe and healthy. Tell us about your loneliness or about how you have been found. Here is an older post about ways to find friends, although it was written before the pandemic so will need to be adapted. And if you have a therapist who needs help understanding your rainforest-ness, share this post. And my books. Sending you all much love and strength.

(Note: Thank you, Elien, for sharing your story. And dears, if you are outside of the US…sorry N. Americans…and wish to share your experiences in a post, please email me. I would love to write stories from a wide variety of cultures.)

(Another note: I’m using a new version of WordPress so you may see some changes. It’s a little frustrating but I hope to figure it out soon!)

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.

25 thoughts on “Gifted And Lonely In Belgium

  1. While rereading the description again and your newish tagline, there is no doubt that this is my “tribe”. I agree that finding the right support and therapist is really important because otherwise the feelings of rejection and being misunderstood will escalate, I love that I am forever curious but am disheartened that very few others are so it adds to isolation. the good news is there is so much to immerse oneself online ( and in nature. )

    blessings, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes I relate to Eliens story and maybe your own… finally we learn to follow that inner voice and it brings us to today… so lovely to reAd your blog and get to know IAM not alone at this most crazy time! Much love Barbara x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is also my story. I have worked very hard to find answers to why I am so lonely and books have helped tremendously. In spite of knowing better who I am and accepting who I am, at the end of the day, I am still lonely. I still crave deep and true connections that I rarely find. My best friend is a 6-year-old, who will grow up sooner than I am ready for, and I fear the loneliness that will follow. But I don’t give up. I make an effort to find connections and to work on myself to accept my life as is and appreciate what I have.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you for sharing, at least read your blog makes me feel not alone

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes yes Elien! We’re here! And oh how I love that there is an international community of RFMs out there! (Merhaba Türkçe arkadaşlerim!) I love hearing these stories from your readers Paula. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. oh my God. i don’t even have the words. i’ll try though.
    i discovered that i am highly gifted this year. i am brazilian, 21yr old, and i spent all my life just thinking why i was so different from everyone, always questioning everything and literally nobody was like me. i had some friends that liked some of the same things that i do, u know like books and stuff, but never had a mind alike. well, at least until i got in university, thank God. i am graduating in journalism, and i made a friend for life, she is highly gifted too and i thank Lord everyday that we found each other. like she’s my soulmate, my sister, i just, i am so Lucky to have found her. so, we didn’t even knew that what we were was a thing, and we found out together, through a video from Joelle on youtube. theres just a few info about this on internet, and still the majority of it is in english. so in my social conjuncture i never ever heard of giftedness. i just was familiarized with the term “superdotado”(in english is equivalent i guess to “highly gifted”, but the concept of intellectual intelligence is not portrayed in it at all) and it is relacionated only to IQ, people good in math and physics and stuff like that. i wasn’t good at both, and only later in 2018 i read a book about einstein and then got interested in physics. guess school overwhelmed and bored me. this is an another topic, but yeah, i never had a clue and used to think that i was all alone, but i am found now. man i suffered so much, always frustrated, but still hanging on of course, but i mean, this can get really tricky to our mind. and i can relate with elien a lot, and i watched the video and got shocked u know? seeing all those people, and they’re all like me, i watched the whole thing shocked. never could explain to anyone how my mind works and just seeing the reports on this blog and in a few places on the internet i mean, it means more than i could say. it means everything. thank you. thank you so so much for your blog. for speaking up and putting content in here. God bless you to keep doing the good work you do!

    Liked by 3 people

    • You found the words, Carolina! Thank you for sharing them with us. I’m so happy that you are here. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Carolina
      I discovered this blog just under two years ago and I think I understand the gratitude and identification that it is to be here.
      As I read Paula’s posts, I thought “Wow, isn’t there anything wrong with me? Really?”.
      I am also Brazilian and I am 18 years old, my English skills are not a big deal, nor am I a math or physics genius. But after breaking the paradigms about giftedness, and after a few months self-asserting myself as “rainforest mind” but not highly intelligent, I learned to accept myself as I am and that I am talented.
      That it’s okay to spend half an hour just writing a message to someone who caught my eye on a blog (although I need to improve my perfectionism, the fear of saying something wrong or looking like an idiot is horrible), and that it’s okay to be different .
      In these turbulent moments that we are going through, gratitude and compassion are actions that we must have every day with us.
      You may feel lonely, but you are not alone.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you, Camila. Gratitude and compassion are so important, for ourselves and others! Hugs back to you.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Oh my God. I am so happy with your comment, and u are brazilian too(my english skills aren’t a big deal too, don’t worry haha), this is just so so great! Well, thank you so much for replying me, i feel very less lonely for sure. I always hoped that somewhere, people like me existed, but still it is very difficult to keep positive about it sometimes, u know? Like when our mind is worried with something, and it is easy to start to get a little bit crazy with how much different we are from everyone around us? Does this happen to you? I guess it does, right?
        What u said about reading Paula’s posts, yeah, that’s exactly it! Really, i felt emotional reading ur comment haha, it’s too relatable! I also feel the same about all of these paradigms, guess i see myself as highly gifted because it was the first concept I found and I saw that it hadn’t to be all about IQ and stuff, it could reference to intellectual intelligence too, but I identify and like a lot the concept of RM too. I’m still trying to figure this all out, though. Congrats for you, btw, it is really good that u are finding and accepting yourself. We are all precious, we really should accept and embrace our giftedness in it’s own and unique way! I won’t even begin to start with the perfectionism thing, cause i would write a book about it haha and this comment is already too big, but yeah, another thing I identify as well, take the example of my conclusion paper on university that I am writing now, and it’s the reason why I forgot to come here and check, though I remembered it everyday, I would forget right before, focused too much in my rotine to get it to be written perfectly, it can get funny right? hahaha
        Also because I didn’t knew how to follow a post, and now I do, yay.
        And I agree with you in this, too. We must be grateful for every little thing that we have right now, and work with what we have to get what we want. The best is yet to come. Hugs right back, rainforest friend(is this a thing? i bet it is.)

        Liked by 2 people

        • So, Camila and Carolina, do you think I should write a post about being gifted in Brazil? One or both of you could email me with more about your experience of having a RFM in Brazil and I could put it in a post. What do you think? My direct email is

          Liked by 2 people

          • I think that is such a great idea! I can send an email, yes, guess we both could, it would be great having more than one perspective right. I’ll work on it this weekend, okay? Soon you’ll receive it! 💙 Also, do you want me to ask my friend to write one too? The one I mentioned on my comment, her name is Jessica. If you do, let me know.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes! Jessica, too. I would love to write a post with stories of a few of you. There is no hurry. And it doesn’t have to be perfect! If you just share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, I can take it from there. You can make it as long as you like, also.

              Liked by 1 person

          • Paula, I would think amazing a post about being talented in Brazil, talking about the good and difficult things that a introvert talented can spend in a country with a very extroverted culture (in my opinion).
            I confess that I would be flattered, I will be contacting you by email.

            Liked by 2 people

        • Yes Carolina, I understand your discouragement and confusion, it happens to me too. This feeling of being so different (and maybe strange or “not normal”), that you don’t know why you are like you are, if it’s teenage hormones, if there’s something wrong with you or whatever.
          I felt happy with your comment too, I always read the comments and saw yours, I think: “Wow, there is another Brazilian here!”, The feeling was very good.
          I still think about being talented, and a highly sensitive person, 2x exceptional … and even though I identify with the characteristics of such definitions, I still wonder if I’m just being arrogant or presumptuous, because I look at myself and think “Okay , nothing much “, and another voice says” Wait, there’s something here that deserves attention and differentiated care “. It’s complicated, but I like to solve complications, anyway.
          “We should be grateful for every little thing we have now, and work with what we have to get what we want”, I liked that, I will save it in my notepad.
          Take care, friend of the rainforest mind.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Oh hey Camila! Yes, about it, I always looked for answers. It’s great to find someone to relate too, and i’m happy that u liked my comment ^^ that’s exactly what i thought by the way, “another brazilian omg” and yes the feeling is very good indeed.
            and yeah i guess its easy for us to think that we arent talented because of all of the genius content that was spread our whole life

            Liked by 1 person

            • I accidentally sent the comment but ya let me finish
              *our whole lives
              let me just say one thing: the voice within knows. we, deep down, know that we really are different. we feel different, and i guess that it is prove enough that the world is the one who isn’t ready for us, like, people learned to only see intelligence as good grades at school u know? the world is filled with intelligent people, hg or not, who think that the intelligence they have in something isn’t good enough. what i’m saying is that intelligence is not just math. anyways, hope i helped with your wonderings. i guess ur right, it deserves differentiated care. and i’m happy that u liked my phrase haha. take care, rm friend.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, think you Paula! She’ll be happy to know. I got really inspired right now, thanks! And okay, thanks for the orientation and love, i’ll put all of it in the best way I can ^^

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi everyone here… I am from Pakistan and reading your blog posts for few days. I am in the process of discovering about my rainforest mind… I am almost lost in everything you have described in your blog posts. It is so much fascinating to know all this that I am reading your blog for hours and hours without any break. I am so grateful for finding your work and all the beautiful gifted people….

    Liked by 1 person

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