As a coach and consultant in gifted education, I often find myself speaking with gifted adults about their gifted children and their gifted students. So often during these conversations, there are true moments of epiphany. The adults often burst into tears of disbelief, belief, and relief (and we keep the kleenex handy). As they share stories about children that they know and love, they realize tendencies in themselves that are similar. It is no surprise that gifted children grow up into gifted adults; their passions, intensities, and quirkiness do not just magically disappear. For some, this revelation is surprising and for others it is a confirmation of long-held suspicions.
Therapists such as Paula Prober, author of
Your Rainforest Mind,
Lynne Azpeitia, gifted adult coach and author of
Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults,
Dr. Ellen Fieldler, past president of the Michigan Association for Gifted Children, and author of
Bright Adults: Uniqueness and Belonging Across the Lifespan, as well as many, many other authors write about gifted children and adults, and their joys and challenges. Many of them wonderfully trace the trajectory of giftedness throughout the lifespan. They offer hope and suggestions.
Like gifted children, gifted adults may share many commonalities. They often have a wide range of interests, read widely, and display unending curiosity. They may be independent thinkers and may struggle with deep friendships. Some change jobs often, as their curiosity and talent (and boredom) lead them to explore. They may be intense; they may feel things deeply, and wonder why. They may have been told that they are “too much” - too bossy, too emotional, too questioning, too sensitive, too... They may ask a lot of questions, and not be satisfied with perfunctory answers or shallow thought. They may be perfectionistic, setting high standards for themselves (and sometimes others). They may possess a deep worry for the pain of the world, “weltschmerz,” or rage against the injustices of life, and feel hopeless to effect change. They may love to argue, sometimes for the sheer “sport” of it. They may also possess astonishing senses of humor and delightful insights. They may frustrate, amuse, or annoy others, and are sometimes blissfully unaware of their impact. They may create works of beauty and share them with the world or keep them private. They may question the meaning of their lives and life in general. Though this series of characteristics is in no way complete, it may provide some of you with an AHA! moment, or two…or three... Perhaps many of these characteristics describe you. What now?
Above all, know that you are not alone. Webinars, articles, conferences (for example, WATG conferences, and SENG
Supporting the Emotional Needs of Gifted
conferences offer information and networking opportunities. Following gifted education specialists’ blogs, especially those who deal with social and emotional issues, such as Dr. Gail Post. or viewing videos and articles by Dr. Dan Peters, or Dr. Matt Zakrewski can be eye-opening, uplifting, and comforting.
Know also, that being with others who share your own brand of “quirkiness” can be very validating. Many gifted adults share that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” and that their family members, spouses, and friends are also “delightfully quirky.” There is a sense of camaraderie and safety with others who understand you. Celebrate it. Bask in it. Share it. Find comfort in it.
Finally, if the challenges of being a gifted adult seem overwhelming, it may be time to seek professional help. Please care for yourself so that you can optimize your potential, and care for others.
As we enter yet another difficult year, let’s help each other maximize our gifts and talents. This is important for both children and adults. Together we can do this.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.
Jackie Drummer, Past President and Board Advisor
Gifted in Perspective
A column designed to link the gifted perspective to other perspectives, and to make you think.