Gifted Children Grow Into Gifted Adults
Have people ever called you “too intense” or perhaps “too driven”? Or maybe people have said “Why don’t you slow down?” or “Can’t you do just one thing?”
Do you have a habit of starting a new book to read before you have finished the old one? Is there only one person in a hundred who understands your jokes? Have you always felt like you just didn’t fit in?
If you answered yes to most of these questions you just might be a gifted adult? You may be reading this column because you have discovered that you have a gifted child in your family. As you explored your child’s giftedness and acquired knowledge and resources to navigate the waters of raising such a child, there was probably a dawning awareness that you share many of the qualities with your child that distinguish both of you as gifted. So you want to know more.
One major characteristic of gifted adults is that they seldom realize that they are gifted. They may know they are smart, if they did well in school, but many gifted adults performed average in school. And even if you know that you are smart, the term “gifted” seems extreme. There are a lot of gifted adults out there, living relatively normal lives but they are still holding themselves back because of their unrecognized talents or because they feel badly about their talents or themselves period. Why is this so?
If you think about it the numbers can explain this phenomenon. For example to be gifted intellectually you probably have an IQ at 130 or above which is only about 2% of the general population. How many intellectual peers are you likely to have in a group of 100 people? And even if you find one, there is no guarantee that if two people are both in the 98th percentile of intelligence they will have the same interests or compatible personalities. What this boils down to is that gifted adults grew up with very little social reinforcement for who they are. When you think differently and act differently than most everyone else you associate with, most people come to doubt their perceptions and thus doubt themselves. These doubts are the reason that a good third or more of gifted teens drop out of high school. Of those who do graduate, only 5% go on to college!
Gifted children grow into gifted adults. You don’t outgrow your giftedness. So many of the issues that brought you to this website for your child, apply to you also. In order to be more fully who you are, develop your abilities, make your contribution to society, and to have more meaningful relationships, the gifted adult needs as much help or more than the gifted child.
After years of rejection and misunderstanding, the gifted adult has much misinformation about his or herself that may even be described as a “false self.” Through psychotherapy and education about giftedness the gifted adult can reclaim their true self and find the meaning in life that they have a hidden longing for.