Have you ever felt like you are the odd duck? Do any or all of the eleven characteristics describe you?
- You are your own worst critic even though others appreciate you and see good in you.
- You are intense when you believe in a cause and you go after it with dogged tenacity.
- Human injustice and suffering (even, violence on TV) deeply bother you more than they bother others.
- You have felt like the odd duck, have felt lonely and introverted, even though you like people.
- You question authority figures and challenge them when needed; hyper-authoritarianism is intolerable to you.
- You have an interesting sense of humor and often people don’t get your jokes.
- You get highly emotional (for example, you feel the emotions of sadness and joy deeply).
- You are driven to create, create, create and are deeply moved by the arts.
- You often know what people are feeling. You have a heightened empathic perception of emotions in others.
- You get annoyed at too much useless, shallow, small talk.
- You are sensitive to non-verbal communications, bright lights, and perhaps some sounds and smells.
If these don’t describe you, what about your child? Someone else you know?
Please note that portions of the above characteristics were found in an article by Dr. Eric Windhorst.* When reading Dr. Windhorst’s article, I couldn’t help but notice that every one of these characteristics apply precisely to some children I know as well as a musically talented friend.
Gifted adults, like gifted children, can experience any of the above characteristics. They don’t realize what they have. Many gifted adults go through life not knowing they are gifted. They lose focus and set aside their gifts when their focus could be used for something good. To be “gifted” doesn’t mean we would win on Jeopardy or that we aced our SAT tests. It doesn’t even mean we have extremely high IQ’s. As children, gifted adults often weren’t recognized as such by their parents. Many of these kids hated school to the core and were bad test takers.
Maybe they were thought of as “too emotional”, “too intense”, “too focused” or just plain “too much!”
This just in: There is nothing “wrong with you!”
Many gifted people develop this sense that there is something wrong with them. They develop a low self esteem and carry that around for life because those around them didn’t understand them. Maybe their families didn’t have the intellectual capacity to understand them. Out of the world’s top mathematicians, eighty percent of them had parents who were not gifted. Giftedness is not always genetic. Maybe they were teased or bullied by peers.
For the gifted person, instead of recognizing what they have, they often adopt the false belief (a lie) that they are horribly flawed. Their perfectionism doesn’t help either! Maybe they were misdiagnosed with a mental disorder when all that was ever “wrong” with them is that they are incredibly gifted and emotionally intelligent dynamos! Many of these gifted individuals develop social anxiety as they view themselves as “different” and don’t know why.
Gifted children, especially, need to know there is nothing “wrong” with them. They need extra hugs and assurance that they are spectacular pieces of art and are in no way flawed. Many of these kids have emotional tantrums of sorrow or rage and have trouble controlling them and returning to baseline. This, too, makes them feel different.
With love and assurance, they will grow up with a healthy self-understanding which will help them to focus on their gifts and view them as a blessing, not a curse.
Gifted adults need to wake up to the fact that there is nothing “wrong” with them! Does this sound like you? Maybe there was something “wrong” with the ones who didn’t “get” you. God knew what he was doing when he made us all a diverse bunch. Maybe we are all wired differently, and that is okay.
If this sounds like you, accept and appreciate your gifts, focus your intensity and use your gifts to make the world a better place for us all!
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
– Psalm 139:14
*Windhorst, Eric Ph.D. 2020. “Gifted Adult Characterisitics.” Accessed November 1, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.ericwindhorst.ca/resources/on_being_gifted/gifted-adult-characteristics/