As always, my Facebook groups provoke a good bit of thought from me. This week, it was a series of threads (heated, at times) about giftedness. I’m not going to quote anyone or mention anyone or any of that, because it’s a breach of privacy. So if you know me from there or in real life, no worries.
That said, one thing really stuck out. Many people assume that we – the gifted community – chose this label. That we use it because we want to say that we’re better than everyone else. Well, that’s the furthest thing from the truth, and I wanted to talk about that a little.
We didn’t ask for this
We didn’t ask for this. None of us. The adults living with intensity and overthinking every aspect of their life. The kids, struggling just to fit in, but knowing they’re so different than literally everyone else they know that different seems bad. Even for us adults, different is undesirable. We all just want to fit in, to belong.
We didn’t choose to be smart. To have a brain that just won’t shut off – to lay awake at night with the neurons buzzing while your body aches for sleep. We didn’t ask to be ridiculed by literally everyone for knowing stuff. Random, off-the-wall stuff like “hey, this is a Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar and they’re pretty rare! ” right after a kid in the group accidentally squished it.
We didn’t decide one day that hey! I’m going to learn every single detail about carnivorous plants because it will help me get friends! No, we got sucked into that rabbit hole and dragged down into sundews and butterworts and never returned. And trust me – no kid wants to hear about all the details of carnivorous plants. As young as he is, my oldest son knows this.
We didn’t choose this
No, we were born this way. Our brains are wired differently – some would say the wiring is misfiring – and we have no control over it. We can’t help being intense any more than you can stop breathing. We can dampen it down – we can conceal it – we can shutter who we are just so we can fit in – but we cannot change it.
We are who we are. Which is why the gifted community often reacts so strongly to statements like “every child is gifted.” Or “giftedness doesn’t exist.” Statements like that erase us. They refuse to believe that we’re possible – that we even exist!
No one wants to feel erased or unseen. And no one wants to feel resented.
I am my children’s advocate
Kids aren’t always old enough to articulate this complicated mess of emotions and concepts. Even my intensely verbal son bogs down when it comes to emotions. It’s take me years of a long journey to begin to understand who I am, and then to understand why I don’t fit in. Now I’m unpacking why people resent me for saying I’m gifted. It’s complicated, right?
I’m old enough and finally secure enough in myself that I’m beginning to break out of the shell of caring what others think. My kids are not. They are just discovering who they are. They are learning and growing in a culture that doesn’t value their abilities. That actively seeks to deny their existence. That’s tough.
No matter what you think about the term Gifted, remember this: we didn’t choose this. Our kids didn’t choose this. The label simply describes us – and erasing the label doesn’t change who we are.