Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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Can Gifted Kids Become Ungifted Adults?

Heck no.

Just to be clear.

photo courtesy of joe ciciarelli, Unspash

But. Well. You may feel ungifted now that you are in your 40’s and you haven’t reached the goals you had at seven. At seven, when you were such a star. All that enthusiasm. Curiosity. Creativity. You knew all the answers. You asked all the questions. Everyone said you had so much potential. You were going to be an astronaut-poet-dancer-paleontologist-unicorn.

And now you are just a procrastinating, perfectionistic, ruminating, self-doubting, overwhelmed, unicorn mess.

So, what happened?

Is there a way to explain how you went from shining superstar to must-be-ungifted mess?

Maybe. I have a theory.

Life happened.

Many experiences, traumas, losses, rejections, prejudices, expectations, beliefs, pressures, illnesses, misunderstandings, or unicorn-killers may have intervened over the years.

Chain saws to your rainforest mind.

Here are some examples. In no particular order:

  • The pressure to be highly intelligent was enormous. You were constantly told how smart you were and how you would achieve great things. You felt you would only be loved and acceptable if you excelled at everything. And for a long time, you did. But eventually, the pressure was too great and you fell apart.
  • You were raised in a family with a history of serious trauma. School was your sanctuary and you did well but at home you had to use your rainforest mind to stay safe and sane. Because of this resilience, you are now a compassionate, sensitive adult. You are not passing the trauma legacy on to anyone. But dealing with your Complex-PTSD did not give you much time or energy to invent the iPhone.
  • You were bullied in school and rarely intellectually challenged. Being the smart kid was not appreciated so you hid your abilities and tried to fit in. In college, it was more of the same. And when you did find a class that was difficult, you did not have the study skills you needed to be successful. It didn’t help that your divergent thinking style, your preference for an interdisciplinary approach, your changing majors five times, and your tendency to question your professors, made you unpopular and labeled a know-it-all. You took your intelligence underground.
  • You were twice-exceptional. Your giftedness was complicated by a diagnosis of ADD or autism spectrum issues or sensory processing challenges or dyslexia or ??? The question, “If you’re so smart, why can’t you…” became all too familiar and debilitating.
  • You experienced racism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, or other discriminatory beliefs/behaviors. You grew up in poverty and/or in an unsafe community.
  • You contracted a serious physical illness. You were in chronic pain.
  • You became a parent.

These are some of the reasons you may not have become the astronaut-poet-dancer-paleontologist-unicorn that you and everyone else expected.

But I have good news. It is not too late.

No pressure. Well, maybe a little pressure.

And, yes, I realize you might not have the time to go to astronaut school. But now that you know what has contributed to your self-perceived ungiftedness, now that you know your rainforest mind is still very much with you, you can start to find your true self again.

And do what you are here to do.

We need all the unicorns we can get.

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To my bloggEEs: Do you remember your enthusiasm, intelligence, and curiosity as a child? Do you feel less gifted now? Ungifted? Which chain saws did you experience? Let us know. Your comments add so much. And thank you for being here. Sending you extra love this week. And this month. For the challenges ahead. Take good care of yourselves. Your light shines even when you think it doesn’t.

(And if you need a little more support, here is a Love Letter I wrote to you in 2018.)