Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive


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What Are The Challenges Gifted Adults Have In Common? — A Therapist’s Perspective

photo courtesy of christina wocintechchat, Unsplash

I am a psychotherapist who counsels and consults with highly intelligent, sensitive, empathetic, creative humans. (Yes, I love my job.) Even though they are all complicated in their multiple uniquenesses and differing backgrounds, I often hear recurring themes. 

Here are some of those themes. In their own words (with a few edits): 

On Waiting and More Waiting

“…when I get into difficulties because my mental functioning runs at 95 mph and the people around me are functioning at 35 mph, I get told that I should be content to wait around for them because I shouldn’t vibe in a rush and I should be patient. I get told that if we all operated more slowly the world would be a better place. It seems to me that being ‘too much’ in terms of mental functioning gets lumped together with always being busy and in a hurry…the onus on me is to slow down to their level and to ‘grin and bear it’ or be dismissed as emotional and thus irrational…”

On Creativity, Communication, and Electrical Storms

“My imagination is already so active, my brain is so full of ideas, it feels like an electrical storm sometimes, so many thoughts happening at once. It’s hard to imagine narrowing something down. It takes a lot of energy just to have one thought at a time. There’s so much happening at once; I can think fast, in pictures, and I can get solutions in feelings, it’s stimulating, it’s exciting, it’s frustrating, it’s difficult to explain…” 

“…to function in society and communicate with other people I have to downshift. I have to find some way to slow things down enough and put them in a linear narrative order so that other people can actually understand what the heck is going on with me…I can see the way the dots connect but most people can’t. I sound like a crazy person. I’m always the weird one. It’s exhausting and lonely…”

On Multipotentiality and Impossible Choices

“I don’t know what it’s like for other people, when they’re asked the question ‘if you could do anything what would you do?’ This kind of question feels impossible for me, like the universe is so big and the possibilities so endless, how can I possibly choose one or even four or twelve..?”

On Schooling and Untied Shoes

“I often was just not interested in the things at school. I can still recount how over the top invested I got into the subjects of dinosaurs, animals’ evolutionary traits, the theory of evolution, what it means to be funny, philosophy, religious origins, and theology, to name a few weird topics. The problem was that I would primarily be thinking about those topics while I was supposed to be listening in school…I excelled at all subjects academically. I would get straight A’s on tough assignments then lose interest…I would always do jusssttt enough to accomplish what I wanted. I was oblivious to the point of ridiculous, always had my shoes untied, extremely disorganized…always had a messy room/workstation/life, would constantly lose things…I got a perfect score on the logic section of the LSAT. I ended up getting into William and Mary Law School and passing the bar at age 26.”

On Overthinking, Anxiety, and Over-talking

“All my life I’ve been told I was a worrier, I was smart, I was artistic, and an over-talker according to my first teachers and my mother and sister, the latter of which still claim that today…All my life I’ve never felt that I fit in with anyone anywhere…I’ve been an overthinker to the point of chronic anxiety and at times panic attacks…I’ve eschewed what was popular in favor of alternatives…I’ve never felt adequate because I’ve underachieved financially…yet I’ve overachieved with regard to reading and retaining, observing, loving, meeting new people, taking small risks (or sometimes larger ones), and seeking to please others. Today, I seek balance and to love myself rather than expect others to love me. This is a scary new journey…”

On Social Responsibility, Empathy, and Superheroes

“…There is a guilt that returns again and again, the guilt that I can’t always help the people I know are suffering. Or there’s the guilt that comes from believing I should have solved all the problems of suffering in the world by now.  Totally completely reasonable. I mean, if I could just evolve faster maybe, write the ultimate book, turn into an enlightened superhero, something like that, then all the suffering would vanish. Yep Haha, that’s so ridiculous, but I know in my heart I still actually feel that way a little…” 

On Relationships, Sensitivity, and the Abyss

“…It feels desperately sad sometimes when I show up to deeply connect and I am not even met halfway – even when others have the intention of doing so. I feel as though I’m reaching and full of hope, but my arms aren’t long enough. Frustration sets in, then the feeling of isolation, and I sink into an abyss all the while still reaching. I have this voice saying – you are full of yourself, you are so wrong to assume things, you are crazy. Then I tell that voice – I know YOU are, but what am I?  I am gifted, flawed, beautiful, often suffering (in one way or many) and expanding always. But I feel one thing that is beyond my imagination is how to make sense of these gifts in a fleeting life – from within, another voice tells me I already make sense.”

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To my bloggEEs: Tell us what you have experienced within these themes. What else might you include as an issue that challenges you? What solutions have you found? Your comments add so much. If you click on the links above, you will find other posts that provide some helpful suggestions! Thank you to the readers who shared these experiences either in comments or in emails to me. I am so fortunate to have you all here. 


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Imagine a World Where Gifted Kids Don’t Have to Wait

Photography by Servando from Flickr cc

Photography by Servando from Flickr cc

It all started in first grade when you eagerly finished the entire workbook in one night. You thought your teacher would be pleased. She was not pleased. You were told to sit and color the pictures and WAIT until the other first graders caught up with you.

Then there was the time they were teaching addition and you had been doing complicated calculations in your head since you were four. You were told to WAIT. You were too young to learn fractions.

When you were eleven, you were dying to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X but you were told to WAIT. That was the book everyone was required to read in high school.

When you scored in the 99th percentile in reading and math and could easily work two years above grade level, it was decided that you shouldn’t skip a grade. You needed to WAIT until you were more emotionally and socially mature, even though you were capable of contributing confidently to discussions with your parents’ friends.

You wanted to know about death and God. You were told to WAIT until you were a grownup because you wouldn’t understand.

You’re still waiting.

Your colleagues at work take hours to conclude what you knew last week.

Your boss wants you to calm down and slow down and not share your ideas just yet. Maybe next week.

You’ve completed all of your assigned work for the day and it’s only 1pm.

Your supervisor says she’ll get back to you with the answers to your questions. She never does.

You’ve learned everything you can about your job and now the tasks are frustrating and boring.

You wonder when you can share the fascinating article you read in the New Yorker while friends talk about recipes and reality TV.

You have so much to say about so many things but you have to find the right time to speak so that you don’t overwhelm your partner, friends, relatives, children and pets with your enthusiasm, sensitivities and ideas. (Well, OK, maybe your pets aren’t overwhelmed.)

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

In his book, The Boy Who Played With Fusion, Tom Clynes wrote:

Waiting was the most common response when Tracy Cross of the college of William and Mary asked thirteen thousand kids in seven states to describe in one word their experience as gifted children.”

Thirteen thousand kids. Waiting.

Imagine a world where gifted kids don’t have to wait. A world where you can be yourself. Imagine the possibilities.

I want to live in that world.

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To my blogEEs: Tell us about the times that you or your kids have had to wait. What was it like? How did you cope? And for the skeptics among you, I understand that patience is important and there are times when we all need to wait. And, yet. This is about WAITING. You know what I’m talkin’ about. And thank you, as always, for reading and sharing.