{GHF Blog Hop} What I’ve Learned About Being Gifted as a Grown-Up

Even as a wee one, I was intense. The only way that I'd make this photo was if my mom joined me.

Even as a wee one, I was intense. The only way that I’d make this photo was if my mom joined me.

This post is part of a Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a universal truth, but a whole lot of parents I know who are raising gifted kids have gone through a bit of shock when the quirks and eccentricities of their kiddos prove to be tiny emotional landmines.

Hit one of those suckers at the right place and time and one can be thrown backwards through years and decades to the awkward phases of being a gifted kid or teen again. Suddenly moments, exchanges, incidents and whole relationships make more sense as they are approached through the lens of “being gifted.”

How do I know this?

Oh, honey. I’ve lived it.

Let’s just say that on the ol’ IQ chart that I’m in the “moderate” range.  In my family tree there are some off-the-charts, profoundly gifted people. Like WHOA! smart.

I am not one of them.

For a long time–like, oh, decades–I downplayed my intelligence for personal and cultural reasons. And then there was that time that I got kicked out of my school’s gifted program, a dark phase chronicled elsewhere here on the blog. The word “gifted” made me shudder for a very long time. I also, frankly, spent a lot of time thinking that I was more than a little eccentric; I feared that I was straight-up nutters.

This fear only increased my in-born tendency toward anxiety.

Around the time that I turned 40, I discovered Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities.

Well that was quite a shock. At first. Relief came next. And then came the realization that I was just another quirky gifted person opened my heart and mind in ways that I never anticipated.

Finally I had a “reason” for my emotional intensity ( my first crush lasted for years and was totally unrequited). I had a “reason” for my constant urge to fidget, my obsession with textures, and what can only be called a hyperactive imagination. Looking back at my life I could think of incidents and moments in which my overexcitabilities were barriers to relationships and even to my growth as a person.

Like a lot of people I’d joked in adulthood about my undiagnosed ADD/ADHD. Many of those “symptoms” fit with an ADD/ADHD diagnosis. I even picked up some executive functioning tips from places like ADDitude magazine. But just because the technique works doesn’t mean one has the disorder.

As it happens, that’s commonplace: to misidentify gifted people as having a “disorder.”

A couple of years ago I ran across Dr. James Webb’s book, Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children {Amazon Affiliate Link}. That’s where I figured out things like the fact that my “h-anger” had a reason. I have reactive hypoglycemia, probably because my brain burns too much glucose (can’t. . . stop . . . thinking) and the constant fidgeting thing. Yet if I take care of myself and fuel my body, I can keep the h-anger in check.

These realizations–coupled with my volunteer work for Gifted Homeschoolers Forum–were  turning points for me in how I process information about my past, my present, and my future. Not only have I come to better understand and appreciate who I am, I’ve also found my “tribe.” I’m a member of online groups and even meet periodically with local women who are parenting gifted kids and who, in my opinion, are obviously gifted themselves. Later this month I’m going to my first SENG conference in California to meet some of my online tribe and learn more about the social and emotional needs of gifted people. I’m hoping also to collect stories for my second book while I’m at it.

Having come to terms with giftedness in me, I’ve definitely become a better person–and a better parent. I’m also curious about the experiences of other gifted people like me.

Honestly, I still cringe a little when I talk or write about my being gifted. The assumption out there is that if I say that out loud (Gasp!), then what I’m saying is “I’m better than you.”

Nope.

What I’m really saying is this: “My experience is no less valid than the norm.”

That’s a lesson that I needed, desperately as I launched my journey into mid-life. And now I’d like to help other gifted people–kids and adults–understand that reality sooner rather than later.

If sharing my story helps others–be it here or in my private Facebook group for readers of this blog (many of them who are also coming to terms with their giftedness), it’s worth it.

What I've Learned from "Gifted Parenting" via RedWhiteandGrew.com as part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum July 2014 Blog HopRead other posts in the GHF Blog Hop (July 2014)!

Being gifted is neither more nor less valid than the norm

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “{GHF Blog Hop} What I’ve Learned About Being Gifted as a Grown-Up

  1. Pingback: Gifted Parenting GHF

  2. Wow, lots of great resources here–I need to spend some time reading through everything this afternoon! Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Pam, this is such an inspiring story. My husband is just starting to come to terms with his giftedness, and I have to come to terms with being considerate of his gifted traits that annoy the bajeebers out of me! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Really appreciate your vivid description of recognizing your gifted experience. I think that is true for so many parents. It’s so hard to admit, realize and accept that many of us are gifted as well. Will definitely share this.

    • Thanks, Gail. I think a big part of the problem is that we tend to focus on the “academics” aspect of giftedness and not enough on the “whole being.” Once college is done and jobs begin, the idea of giftedness “disappears.” And yet I’m convinced it’s a challenge and an asset throughout the lifespan.

  5. I agree with you; I have grown so much as a person since finding GHF, the FB groups, and researching Dabrowski. There is a REASON for the way I am, and I can embrace it! And there are others like me! It’s fantastic!

    Wish I was going to SENG. I’m looking forward to all of the post-conference blogs. 🙂 ~Nikki

  6. Hi Pamela. I enjoy reading your posts. I hope to meet you at the SENG conference. I’m the person from the Your Rainforest Mind blog about gifted adults. I found this on Facebook and will repost on my page. Thanks!

  7. Rebeccah

    Hi Pamela, a lot of your comments hit home and made me smile. Need to read more of your blog. I started a parent group for Gifted kids because I wanted to meet more people having similar parenting experiences and challenges, and I discovered that my own Gifted differences often get in the way of my communicating well with other parents and especially teachers and administrators. (Why do I keep being surprised that the Gifted label arouses such negative reactions?) I keep learning and adapting my ‘elevator speech’ to educate others about the many definitions and profiles of a Gifted kid and person. Would love to exchange ideas at some point!