Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Why Bother Understanding Giftedness — Won’t They All Be Fine Because They Are So Smart?


No. Not really. Nah. Nope. It’s complicated. The gifted kids and adults I have known over the years have much more going on than just “smartness” — smartness, that is often defined as excelling in school, getting high grades, winning academic awards, attending Ivy League college, or becoming the wealthy corporate CEO. And that is where the problem often begins. We need to get more specific about what being smart, or better yet, what being gifted, actually is. (Note: It may or may not include those academic, achievement-oriented things and, yet, it is so much more.)

The gifted humans I have known are clearly intellectually advanced, deep thinking, extra-perceptive, quite analytical, creative problem solvers, highly sensitive, and intuitive. There is no doubt they crave learning new ideas, are introspective, compassionate, and make unusual connections between, oh, all the things. Being academic, achieving in a school setting, may not be where they show themselves, if the school environment is not keeping up with their capacity to think, understand, interpret, evaluate, synthesize, create, question, intuit, laugh, and reflect on concepts, ideas, philosophies, theories, emotions, insights, and facts.

Another way to describe these folks, other than by the rainforest mind analogy that we all know and love, is with a hyperlink model. The more gifted, the more hyperlinks. Making multiple connections between what seem to be unrelated ideas. Constant analysis, synthesis, and revelations. Hyperlinks within hyperlinks.

So. How might that feel to them? To you?

Exhilarating. Exhausting. Fascinating. Isolating. Stimulating. Starving. Energizing. Confusing.

Am I right?

I will focus on the challenges here because, well, that is the part where you, and others, need convincing.

Some examples come to mind, in no particular order: Sitting in meetings, day after day, month after month, waiting for coworkers to come to consensus on the conclusion you drew last year, waiting for colleagues to finish debating irrelevant information, waiting for someone to appreciate the nuance you bring to the discussion. Sharing only portions of your vast knowledge and talents in many areas for fear of judgment, rejection, or misunderstanding. Showing only small parts of yourself for fear of overwhelming others with your energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity. Constantly adapting to your environment so you can be understood and accepted. Smelling someone who needs a root canal. Enduring criticism for needing multiple career paths and for doing more than one project at a time. Grappling with learning disabilities that confuse and frustrate your intense appetite for knowledge. Never finding a mentor or guide who knows more than you do. Settling for friendships that are limited in depth and range. Being bullied in school because you want to spend recess in the library. Terrified to make a mistake because in your mind errors mean you actually are not gifted. Listening to audio books and podcasts at faster speeds to avoid boredom. Despairing over the suffering on the planet and being called dramatic by family members. Diagnosing your illness when the doctors can’t. Unable to turn off your thinking and worrying to fall asleep or just relax. Pressured to live up to others’ expectations. Pressured to not disappoint your parents and teachers who rely on you. Achieving mastery in your field(s), winning those awards, and still feeling like you are not enough. Desperate to find even one person for meaningful dialogue and open-hearted relationship.

And, finally:

Considerable self-doubt, self-criticism, and anxiety for many reasons but also because you imagine all of the REAL gifted people are high achieving, valedictorian, Ivy League, confident, super star CEOs who are all fine because, well, they are so darned smart.


To my bloggEEs: What do you think? Am I describing you? How? What other examples do you have? Is there someone you know who needs to read this? Thank you for sharing your feelings, thoughts, and questions. As you know, my blog wins the prize for best comments ever. Much love to you.

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.

56 thoughts on “Why Bother Understanding Giftedness — Won’t They All Be Fine Because They Are So Smart?

  1. How about some people often telling you not to overthink? I don’t even know what that feels like. I relate, and would also share this with a few people in mind. Thank you!

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  2. I feel you have left out frustrating and exasperating. or I might just be in an angry fase right now.
    I have two weeks of from work and cant seem to get my mind to just shut down for a day and relax. got a new book ( okay 4 of them) and read about one book every 1.5 days. and still with all those new worlds swirling in my mind, it wont shut down and enjoy but keep seeing those connections/hyperlinks.

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  3. I especially related to the one about not finding a mentor or guide who knows more than you do and being able to only partially share self with others – all of which is painful. It helps to see this spelled out on the page – thanks. I’m glad I’m not alone

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    • You are not alone, Lenette. πŸ™‚

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    • I did, too, right away, Lenette. It leaves one feeling very lonely and isolated. I will try and spell it out even more dramatic: For most normally gifted people, there is at least the IDEA that there is some kind of mentoring figure, a wise elder, a confidante who knows the struggle from first hand experience and is capable and willing to share some insights (like Paula does so often; along that analogy: We’d all need multiple Paulas each and everyone and for any situations that we so often face).

      What I’m getting at is this: A feeling of abject loneliness BECAUSE of being “so damn smart” – intellectually AND emotionally – that it becomes like a social repellant to many others. F*CK… (pardon my French, rarely happens, but the exclamation seemed to be the most appropriate at this point…)

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      • I also feel that it “becomes a social repellent” and it is SO lonely and frustrating. Also, “Showing only small parts of yourself for fear of overwhelming others with your energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity.” I don’t mind having certain friends for certain passions, but in a work setting (teaching) I find it depressing (to the point of existential depression at times) to have to limit what I choose to show (as Paula mentioned, plus skills, knowledge). I am still working to ensure that people don’t think I am showing off, which is the last thing I am trying to do. I am just trying to have my fellow educators and I serve students better, but mediocre seems good enough for so many… Also, I strive to ensure that nor my students (nor myself) feel the pain of boredom. “Mieux vaut crever de passion que d’ennui.” / “Better to die of passion than boredom”…merci Zola, or was it Van Gogh?

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        • One of the tricky things might be that what is mediocre to you may be excellent to others. Makes it quite hard to know how to manage with coworkers.

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        • I very much feel you on every count there, Ciera. Been there, done that, as they say.

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          • Sigh…I am 30 and sometimes I ask myself how many more years of humans I can take (and I ponder going to live with some other species away from cities and screens, ha…Jane Goodall style?). Luckily, I teach kids/youth for much of my time and they remind me that humans can be pretty awesome, caring and creative. Helping instill solid values and skills in them is a fun realm to work in and thankfully, they love when I answer their varied questions (today they were about colonization, cultures and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada) and share different parts about who I am, including many different skills. They also give spontaneous hugs and giggles, which is a big bonus. One day at a time…plus I remind myself that I owe it to kids to leave them a better world.

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  4. Immersing in your blogs–all of them from the start of your blogging commitment years ago, is providing insights I need to go further with my focus on Gifted Professionals and Communicators. Your topic of understanding is vital. My curiosity wants to what are we doing with that understanding? My curiosity wants to know why we spend far more resources and attention on child development and hardly any on gifted adult development.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I think helping the gifted adult is tricky because of the reasons above. People don’t think it is needed. We don’t put many resources into gifted children either, at least here in N. America. Thanks for sharing, Georgia.

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  5. sigh …. And having to do so much for others because they cannot understand or don’t care. And always trying to help other people feel better because people benefit so much from a kind word, from just being noticed.
    ….. and on sad days then my ‘little lonely girl’ self asking — Why isn’t there ever anybody to take care of me? or love me?
    I would not want to be anything but an RFM but it is not ever easy.

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  6. Yes. Yes. YES… [and 347more] …YESSS! This is SOOO it, Paula. It’s so much of these exhausting Yes’es followed by and then undermined by the crippling doubt and debilitating loathing imposed of the imposter syndrome, and then capped with the “how dare I even contemplate the existence of any exceptionalism or giftedness” as if that in and of itself must render me narcissistic. But still, what joy it is to run in all directions simultaneously when finding the connections… even if only in the confines of my own mind.

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    • And Yes, Yes, Yes, backatcha, lackosleep! Thank you for being here.

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    • “To run in all directions simultaneously”, it is perfectly described !!! that’s exactly what one of the parts of my brain sometimes does without asking for permission and without telling me how to stop it …
      Does anyone else feel like their brain is divided into two compartments and one of them sometimes spins out of control (like a hamster wheel) and won’t let you sleep or stop doing things at full speed?

      Liked by 4 people

      • *raises hand* (and not just two compartments. At the best moments all those separate compartments gel and click and churn out amazing insights, ideas, possibilities. At worst: They fight each other with equal verve and fierceness. Exhausting on steroids, for sure, Mary)

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        • More than two compartments for sure. The ‘gel’ stage is when the magic happens. I.e. creative flow state. I live for those moments of truly feeling alive and ‘on’, when I don’t have to wait for anyone and I can create at full blast. What do you find helps you reach this gel stage the best?

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          • I’m a scientist and logical creature by nature, no poet or creative spirit in the sense of art or words. But for me, running full blast creative is where I revel in tackling and making progress on deep problems that have complex logical solutions. Like how do you convince 8 billion “normal” people that we all need to do … (fill in the blank here, as I don’t want to foist my opinions on others)… to survive. To make them understand a mass of data in a way that makes sense to their lives and their points of view. And when I’m ‘on’ and ‘happy’ it is something I can pursue with terrier-like fervor and feel positive and hopeful while doing it. So that’s very different, no doubt, than what ‘full on creative blast’ is for someone else.

            Anyway, I’ve tried a lot and learned a lot over that last 65 years of non-stop searching. And what helps me immeasurably (and I know it’s undoubtedly very different for each of us wondrous spirits) is that point where most of the really important plates that you have spinning in the air align long enough for you to feel certain, beyond a doubt, that you’re in harmony with your true core essence (or more properly perhaps, essences). It doesn’t happen with a day’s effort. But, maybe a week, or a month, or a year, depending on many things. For me, that means getting lots of varied physical exercise (preferably outside surrounded by the “true” world of the earth, eating well & intelligently, working out my brain regularly on learning what most would consider a challenging topic, whether it be statistics or cryptography or deep philosophical ponderings. Add in some smiling social time and sheer joy of mental & physical agility with ballroom dancing, and pointedly NOT paying attention to “news” or complainers etc. Holding challenging relationships at bay or changing one’s perspective or ending them completely. Making the time to fit in some minimum of mind quieting meditation each day. Then, top it off, for me, with living in the “country” so that I am free to roam gardens and fields and woods and absorb and delight in the endless creativity and positive energy of the planet and it’s plants, animals, water, rocks….
            i.e. When I have satisfied many little parts of myself and I can truly feel good about being me and being alive and truly feel hope, then it is supreme peace and joy and comfort and happiness, as if I’m in touch with, and part of, the universe itself.

            Not sure if that’s useful, and I’m no wordsmith, but that’s how it feels to me when things click or gel or feel absolutely fine and right. Then my version of creativity and true contentment can soar.

            To get there, I think you have to keep trying to turn your life towards the things that work for the real inner you. Not the one who’s gotten in the habit of this or that. Or the one that takes the safe or obvious path. Have been through a lot of jobs, several careers, maybe a dozen different US states including 2 unforgettable intense years in Greenland, many relationships and a whole massive truckload of emotion. There’s definitely a better way to get there than I did, but I’m finally progressing. πŸ™‚

            Can we all please be issued a Paula in our lives to help guide us and nurture us and pat us on our ever-turbulent heads and cheer us on?
            I wonder what being an RFM kid in a home with 1 or more RFM parents must be like? Fascinating, high-speed, full of interesting situations — must come with a lot of unique scenarios and present it’s own challenges; but wouldn’t that be an exhilarating start to life πŸ™‚

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            • A lot of what you wrote in this comment strongly resonates with me ,Sue. And see, my particular version of being an RFM sports both or all of the things you mentioned plus the creative musings, but also deep philosophical, abstract thinking, quantum physics, cosmology the whole nine yards, music, nature, all of it. And I find it extremely challenging to somehow how bring all these different aspects of self into a cohesive one, so that I feel organic and authentic, ALIVE and at full blast as you said and soaring and thriving at full blast, as you said . Don’t think I have managed very often. But in my former jobs, which were also more left brainy and analytical and about databases and organising data and with the larger part of my former career, I think I see some similarities to what you may have experienced in your life, just not as steadfast and sustainable as you seem to have done it. And yes, I must agree: We should all be issued our own Paula or 10 of them πŸ€“πŸ˜πŸ˜‡ to let us get to our potential quicker and healthier and without so much personal injury and sacrifice while getting there.❀️ I think if I had known sooner that my mind just operates very different from the bulk of other people’s, I would have had a chance to make myself aware of needing to communicate that mind better to others, so I get them on board and so they they can better understand what is going on inside of me and vice versa. I think having been aware that there is a special “strain” of humans with a RFM, might have helped me to established that better communication and with that my life would have probably been much different from what it was, not as fragmented, but more cohesive, coherent and I guess more successful.

              But I hear it’s never too late for anything while our hearts beat in good health and while our pulse pumps blood and the gray matter operates at its best capacity?

              Loved to hear your approach of living your most authentic self. Much of it or probably all of it would work very well for me, tooπŸ€—

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              • Oh renovatio, I read your words often on these blogs and wish there were magic ways we could reach out and help each other more, all of us RFMs. We all go through so much unnecessary suffering; at least, I think it’s unnecessary if we had wise guides to understand and guide us and cheer us on.

                And, I didn’t specify, but when everything ‘clicks’, ‘gels’, whatever it doesn’t necessarily last for long sadly. I’m still very much a work-in-progress. When you’re in that zone, time ceases to exist. It just feels so damn wonderful when it does click that it gives me something to strive for, to hope for, a reason to get up one more time when I let life backhand me again. The more I can keep all my plates spinning and not let negative events, or things I interpret negatively, impact me drastically, the longer I can soar. Maybe a month or less on average, but time improves that. For me, it has helped to realize that pretty much everything in life is colored by perspective. If we choose to see it less negatively, or perhaps to try the understand the root of the ‘negative’ thing that is impacting us, it can often become a useful learning & growing moment. Or even give us a new, interesting path to explore. Sorry, I’m not a gifted, emotive writer. But, it is always well said that you can often make a great batch of lemonade out of lemons — that is a bankable truism. πŸ™‚

                Another tidbit, perhaps, it does take a lot of organization and energy to put it ‘in the zone’. And the dose of reality that I think most RFMs find difficult … the ability and willingness to say NO I just cannot pick up one more topic or try to spin one more plate. i.e. the wisdom and realism to let some things go so that other things can flourish — whether it’s books, friends, plants, trips, engaging side topics, etc etc etc πŸ™‚

                My very favorite bit of wisdom of years of searching though is this one:
                Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning how to dance in the rain.

                Hugs to all on a quintessential breezy, sunny autumn morning here

                Liked by 3 people

                • Thank you very kindly, Sue! It sure helps a lot to have kind people like yourself and Paula and other members on here to connect with at least in this way! Will take stock of the wisdom you quote at the end! Sounds wonderful! Hugs again, right back at ya β˜ΊοΈπŸ€—

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                  • Renovatio06 and Sue, thanks for your beautiful and wise words. We may have different creative outlets, but we still have a lot in common despite that, especially in how we strive for more. Nature is definitely a happy place for me as well.
                    Your reflections served as reminders to make more time for creative endeavours this weekend, which was much needed.
                    Wishing you more much time ‘in the zone’!

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  7. Oh, that bit about the meetings!

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  8. Hi Paula, I always appreciate your posts. I can definitely relate to some of this, bur certainly not all. For example, this is rarely true: “Sharing only portions of your vast knowledge and talents in many areas for fear of judgment, rejection, or misunderstanding” I think it doesn’t fit for me because I have operated on the basis that I want to find that someone who can relate and appreciate all of the knowledge. OK, yes, I am still waiting on that (Godot) but i will continue to wait.

    Nor does this fit: “Terrified to make a mistake because in your mind errors mean you actually are not gifted.” I don’t like mistakes but not for that reason. That actually makes no sense to me so wherever that is coming from is not part of my mental make up. I tend to dislike mistakes because they are an indication that I wasn’t really paying sufficient attention and acted without proper thought and preparation. This often happens with internet usage. I don’t like the idea that I am not able to pay scant attention and get away with it every time anymore. Bad habits develop early and long before the internet. The speed of internet communications catches me out, especially the dreaded auto(crat) correct.

    I’d like to comment on your analogy to hyperlinks. I think I mentioned last time that I am reading “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains,” by Nichola Carr. One interest bit of info gives is what hyperlinks actually do to our brains and how much working memory they take up. Apparently studies have shown that the more hyperlinks, the poorer the understanding and the less ability of the mind to do deep, conceptual thinking. Maybe a different analogy, because, by using it, there is the risk that you are giving your approval to the actual hyperlink, which might not have been your intent as right now hyperlinks, might be among the worst options for thinking people to use.

    As for finding a counselor or mentor or coach, so far that seems a bridge too far.

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  9. “Sitting in meetings, day after day, month after month, waiting for co-workers to come to consensus on the conclusion you drew last year, waiting for colleagues to finish debating irrelevant information, waiting for someone to appreciate the nuance you bring to the discussion” – right on the money with that one Paula!

    Until my retirement 8 months ago from my role as the IT leader (teaching & support for kids & staff, plus IT network admin) in a primary school, I suffered through countless hours of largely pointless meetings. I am firmly of the belief that meetings are designed to do three things: waste time, destroy fun, and reduce the will to live.

    A number of your other examples resonate strongly for me, especially:

    – Showing only small parts of yourself for fear of overwhelming others with your energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity.

    – Constantly adapting to your environment so you can be understood and accepted.

    – Settling for friendships that are limited in depth and range.

    – Being bullied in school because you want to spend recess in the library.

    – Listening to audio books and podcasts at faster speeds to avoid boredom.

    – Pressured to live up to others’ expectations.

    Self-doubt, self-criticism, and anxiety have also been frequent companions throughout my life. But retirement is definitely making a big difference. It’s so much easier now to just please myself, doing the things I want to do, reading what I want to read, learning what I want to learn, and not caring if anybody understands or appreciates my giftedness. And no more stupid meetings! 😁

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  10. Explaining again and again about how something will be a problem long-range, and how we can minimize it with a simple change in our approach, and having no one understand it. And then TEN YEARS later, while you’ve been cleaning up the mess along the way for years, they finally get it.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Reblogged this on Thoughts on Life and commented:
    A very important arena of thought, and one that should be explored by more people.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. First off, Paula – if I may: I really like that new profile picture you chose! IMHO, it’s the best one so far, the most appealing, trust-inducing, if you don’t mind me saying it this verbatim. (I’m trying to not only compliment, but be reassuring… am I getting there….? O:) )

    And then: Like your BlogEEs above have said, right on the money with many things. And then: Most of us will have known and experienced the “347” more YESes, so I take the liberty of picking out the suggested opposition(s) by hksounds and also find Kris’s observations interesting. I think, I can relate to both and find some veracity in them. I start with the one that’s easier accessible to me for the similiarities to my own career path in the past (and also in addressing your analogy of hyperlinks):

    It doesn’t surprise me all that much that someone with an exceptionally fast and _accurately_ working mind will be drawn to technical positions (as in: IT) in the “real world”, as overexcelling in terms of task oriented situations is more or less the job description there. Also, I found it interesting that on a different blog, focusing on trauma history and resolution/overcoming, the blog owner and therapist stated that there are some fields where “a 100% perfect” is the requirement of the job at hand (the particular entry dealing with perfectionism and how and where it may stifle or “suffocate” healing), interesting in so far as she needed to mention it verbatim as one exception to the “parameters of healing” (my wording, not her, working title, sort of). My point being: That is one of the situation where we hope to get to “blend in” and _not stand out_, where the latter comes with all the associated issues and problems and downright adversity. And I’m happy for Kris that he now has such an easy time settling in to retirement and getting to use his deep intuition and capacity of good self care to find out the 1,001 ways of how to be comfortable with himself. That’s a marvelous place to be in!

    As for hksounds: I think I understand, what she says there. I tend to (partially) agree so far as her findings are the results from her observations and relating to the path she took and situations she found on said path.

    So what was I saying with all this? I think I’m seeing ever more strongly that “we” often blend so poorly – or only in part – because our minds (and hearts) are _all geared towards making connections_, building bridges and yes, even creating and following hyperlinks, even – or _particularly so!_ when those hyperlinks become like the complicated network of roots in a bunch of trees (that are _actually wired together through their roots_ and establish some kind of communications network, it’s a thing, look it up, don’t take my words for anything). Our _entire being is about connections_ and how to best and most quickly build them and integrate and tie together “loose ends” where we come across them. (as _one part of the RFM make_, but by far not the only one). In a world that is still operating via hierarchies and ruled by a mindset that pitches everyone and their dog(s) _against_ each other instead of the other way around, naturally… standing for the exact opposite of such mindsets and angles will create the exact bunch of hurdles I’d assume most of us facing and having faced. It’s isolating, debilitating even at times, so long as all that creative energy can’t find a good trajectory to be set on and applied to.

    Solution? Who was _I_ to even offer itΒ and to begin with… πŸ˜‰ Just trying my best to help shed some light on the overly complex scenarios we often find ourselves confronted with.

    tldr; (that’s “code” for “too long, didn’t read”): It’s hard to accommodate the rain forest in a world that’s laid out in blocks, squares, superimposed frames of thinking and acting and tarmac sealing away the fertile grounds we were born from.

    Makes sense to anyone? (Don’t leave me hanging, please… πŸ˜‰ )

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thanks for the feedback on the photo, renovatio06. I’ve been using selfies for some time and finally got a professional headshot. Changed up my photos on other social media. It does feel like a bit of an upgrade! Your description of the way trees communicate and are interconnected might turn out to be a better analogy than hyperlinks. Certainly fits within our rainforest worlds.

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    • YES, does indeed make sense.
      btw Great book on tree communication, fascinating, well-documented is Peter Whollenben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees”.

      Definitely plants, animals, the planet have been my lifesaver these 65 yrs because they all do function collectively, communally, in an intricate dance of possibilities. Have always been immersed in them; they never fail to bring me serenity, wonder, hope.

      There is no hate, judgement, pettiness in systems that don’t involve humans.
      Not that hoomans haven’t captured & created some pretty fascinating systems like mathematics πŸ˜‰ or the beauty of a well-turned phrase πŸ™‚

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    • Sorry, I just noticed I got the pronouns wrong with Kris and hksounds. I apologize.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No problem, renovatio06. Easy mistake to make, given that Kris can be a male or female name. And my tiny profile pic with my camera obscuring half my face probably doesn’t make things any easier πŸ˜€

        It may surprise you to learn that this particular someone with an “exceptionally fast and _accurately_ working mind [was] drawn to technical positions (as in: IT)” completely by accident. I just happened to be working in a school where the IT leader went on maternity leave – the boss had noticed that I seemed to have a bent for how to do stuff with a computer, so I was asked to fill in. I ended up ‘filling in’ for 13 years. I had no training in anything IT – my first degree was in history and sociology – but taught myself all I needed to know to keep everyone happy with what I was doing. Never managed to fake any sort of enthusiasm for those damn meetings though 🀣

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        • Thanks for accepting my apology, Kris. Wow, again… the parallels/similarities, amazing. My own path into the field of high tech was not too far form yours in how it happened: I was asking around for a summer job while studying to get an undergraduate degree at university. Someone said that Apple, Inc. were paying good salaries and were always looking for people to do temp jobs for them. Done deal after one phone call. That summer job turned out to be interesting enough to keep me engaged. My task was simple, but later augmented to feeding info back to the engineer of the database we were entering data into. One thing lead to another, I got interested in the technology, the design of databases and the vast amounts of data they could store in a well-structured way, I got adept enough to have frequent meetings with the engineer lady – whom I had a bit of a crush on, admitted. I extended my summer job into the next semester and… stayed until eventually graduating. As my stint with Apple had to end some day due to job protection programs Apple sought to undermine, I found myself working for one of their competitors, i.e. Microsoft and the job there was even more interesting (and my “entry pass” was the very database expertise I had acquired through my other job).

          Fast forward to my project management days later on: Long nights, basically no sleep, long days at the university library with books on data processing, the burgeoning internet and how to create your own little website, more autodidactic training and self tutoring got me work as a vocational trainer right after university and not too much later a position as project manager on pay roll with a larger company. The rest is history, as they say. So. Yeah. More or less an “accident” as well, but one that supported me well for more than two decades and afforded me – and my later partner and then wife, now ex–wife – aΒ quite convenient lifestyle.

          I’ve always felt the same way about meetings like you expressed and also what someone else said above, how you need to find patience when you yourself know right away what everyone is looking for and then needing to wait around for 10 years until they eventually figure out that you had tried to be a good sport and team player from the get-go. Yawwwwwwwn and then some, right? πŸ˜‰ O:)

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  13. Methinks this autodidactic behavioral trait of RFMs has a lot of us employed in fields we fell into out of accident, serendipity, curiosity. Being raised by plants & animals & communing deeply with them, I headed to vet school, segued to wildlife management & consulting. Computers were just coming along and (my mid-20s) got curious, since it seemed like fun! Without any computer skills or training, applied for an excellent job with university and got it!! The manager said that he was soooo sick of hiring geek types who couldn’t talk intelligently to students/users that he was ready to try something new. And off that career went, just learning as you go…. and yes, we RFMs sadly do a better job than those who have actually trained in the discipline. Good $ and lots of remote work over the years, now finally am finishing up MS in data analytics so I can step up my game & hopefully do some more good for the planet. It’s all about your credentials & certifications in IT hiring these days, plus great chance to dive into statistics thoroughly etc. Have always got to have something new & intriguing to challenge & satisfy our minds. πŸ™‚
    Meanwhile I pursue my true nature, oftentimes 2 jobs in the past. Seems like we RFMs probably have a lot more physical energy than most, perhaps?

    And yes indeed, meetings have shifted to ludicrous over the years — great time for solving math problems in your head, pondering universe, maybe writing a novel or surreptitiously reading a good book…? πŸ˜‰
    Was shocked to find the very 1st course of my current degree program included a segment on what all of us would probably call basic intelligent, respectful behavior; i.e. things parents used to help kids develop. They actually have lessons and videos illustrating what an adult should do in a meeting, the purpose behind a meeting, why being respectful of colleagues’ time is important & productive etc. Sad commentary on society. And apparently HRs in most companies now have more meetings telling people what basic decency should look like. Guess we’re no closer to civilizing humans than we were a millennia ago πŸ˜€

    ‘Nuff rambling. πŸ™‚
    It is so very wonderful to come here and share, and even better to hear about other RFMs adventures, and know we all have found our peeps, our tribe here.
    You know you are priceless Paula, truly priceless!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, thank you Sue! Fascinating to read some of your career serendipity.


    • “Methinks this autodidactic behavioral trait of RFMs has a lot of us employed in fields we fell into out of accident, serendipity, curiosity.” Hahaha. Yup. That’s the dream, isn’t it? Why would we want to be stuck doing things the way we were taught in college or uni for the rest of our lives? That would be too boring and not fulfilling. I have met some very bright people who have done just that and they are some of the most truly incredible people out there.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Good to hear from you cmd1122!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Even since High School I’ve always felt that the path everyone expected me to take as far as a career would’ve been like a trap, a prison, almost. So the first thing I did after school was throw them all a curve ball by applying for an apprenticeship instead of enrolling at university like most of my fellow High School classmates. Bottomline here probably is that I wanted to “self actualize” as much as possible. And I think I’m safe to say that I have to the fullest degree, at least in my younger years. I got to reminisce those times about 2 weeks ago when visiting my former “stomping grounds” as a student. I was pleased with my younger self, in fact almost became sentimental in finding that I had taken life head and seemed to be guided and driven by so much more courage and confidence than now. And correct, mediocrity isn’t an option nor is a life of complacency or settling for convenience, that is so NOT a goal that any of us aspire to I would think, isn’t it? But yes, it is hard to get by in a world in which the bulk of people are all about that: Convenience, often complacency and not making an effort wherever possible, instead grabbing the “free lunch” as it’s often called and whenever they can. I find that to be mind and heart crushing and today I suffer a lot for that reason…I just have no idea, how and where to find “fertile grounds” for expressing and actualizing my true self any more… Sadly, despair has become a pretty “clingy” companion…

        Liked by 3 people

        • Congrats on doing the apprenticeship route and purposefully choosing not to be trapped. I used to be very afraid of being trapped in a career or life path that limited my freedom and independence. I kept the max number of doors open through my high school courses and then studied the most interdisciplinary thing I could in uni in order to keep many doors open for careers. But first, I did a year long exchange program in Mexico straight after high school. Most classmates and even many teachers said I was crazy to ‘waste’ the year. But I was like you, desiring time and space to ‘self actualize’. I was very stubborn about my desire to live abroad and learn a new language and had an incredible year of growth, even if many people wrongly assume when I say ‘Mexico’ that I partied on a beach all year.
          Don’t be too hard on yourself; aren’t most of us much more confident and courageous when we are young? And I recommend anything artistic for finding ‘fertile grounds’. That is my only guaranteed space for feeling fully me and connecting with myself. Solitude in nature and yoga help, but creating is my best solution for self expression and actualization. I still deny myself the time I crave to create (perfectionism fears, too much responsibility to my work obligations?) but I am improving in this and feel so much more alive when I give myself ample creative time. And this helps my disallusionment with humans to fade a bit (even though it always resurfaces).
          Take care!

          Liked by 3 people

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