You can make of this post what you will – call me a freak or a narcissist or whatever. I can take it. But I’ve been seeing a new therapist who specializes in giftedness. I was referred to her by a therapist I saw years ago, just before I moved to NYC. I recently contacted her to get back into therapy again, but she’s on sabbatical, so referred me to this new woman who has been a GODSEND in just four sessions. I have learned a world about myself in the last month and feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me – although understanding more about my own giftedness has dropped another weight on my shoulders, albeit one I’m now learning to manage.
I was a gifted child – academically and musically. In a nutshell, I was WEIRD. I was by far the youngest in my grade, with a mid-October birthday, yet – probably due, at least somewhat, to being an only child – was light years ahead of the other children emotionally and intellectually. I had a precocious sense of humor and was always making my friends laugh. As early as second grade, I wrote chapter books that starred everyone in class, and were chosen as “story hour” selections by my teachers. I picked up a violin at the age of 9 and caught on like a child who just figured out how to pedal without training wheels. I learned to play piano by ear – while entertaining myself on the church upright after services, as I waited for my dad to count the offering money. I won a national writing award at the age of 12 and was the youngest person ever in the running. I consistently placed first in spelling bees and was accepted into an elite children’s choir in fourth grade, when most kids weren’t making it until sixth grade.
From the age of 8, I was placed in gifted academic programs and AP courses. That didn’t mean my grades were stellar – giftedness doesn’t have anything to do with grades or, even as an adult, job performance (more reasons gifted people often have trouble accepting, or even realizing, their giftedness – because it’s so often defined by general society in terms of accomplishment). Thanks to my math retardedness, I graduated high school with a 3.3 GPA. I was also a poor tester (my SAT scores should be banished from the earth) and had trouble paying attention in class because I was so easily swept off into daydreams. My “advanced verbal skills” also translated into a repeated appearance of this report card remark from teachers: “Nicole is often talking when she should be listening or working.”
Um. Yeah. No one is shocked.
Some of you may recognize these traits in yourself. Perhaps you were a gifted child as well – whether it was formally recognized or not. For those who were, here’s refreshing news: you don’t outgrow your giftedness. I assumed I’d matured more quickly as a child but now, as an adult, everyone had caught up. NOT SO. Which makes operating in the “normal” world extremely frustrating and – worst of all – lonely (read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, for more insight). I started seeing this new therapist because I’m perpetually annoyed with the world around me – it doesn’t move fast enough, people are stupid, etc. I thought it was everyone else and that I needed to learn to cope. Turns out – it’s ME. I’m STILL gifted. And yes – I need to learn to cope.
I’ve since been drinking in every bit of information I can find on giftedness and overexcitabilites (common traits of gifted people). I’ve also found a wonderful blog written by another woman who is exploring her own giftedness – her posts have been informative and moving, particularly this one. Oh, how I can relate to every word, especially this:
“I don’t care about things being easy. I don’t want to live life on the surface, shallow and smooth. I like challenges and I feel really good when I meet them. If I don’t have a challenge, I make one for myself. I like to be always moving forward, getting better, perfecting, innovating, and producing.”
A blessing and a curse, I tell you. And I used to say this as a joke, but now I can say it with a bit more conviction: It really is hard being superior.