All my life, I have felt different, weird, not like other people. I knew I was smart, I wore my heart on my sleeve, I handled criticism very badly, and I thought about more things, more deeply than most people around me. But, I didn’t know why. And then, a year or two ago, I found a label that fits. And I still can’t believe it.
It turns out that I am highly gifted with underachievement issues stemming from Overexcitabilities, Perfectionism, multipotentiality, lazy work habits due to being under-challenged as a child, and Imposter Syndrome.
I first suspected after reading the following in “The 10 most commonly asked questions about highly gifted children” by Kathi Kearney:
- Many gifted adults today have long had a nagging sense that they were “different” or didn’t fit in a school, but did not know the reason why.
- For many complex reasons, exceptionally gifted children are not always high achievers.
- Gifted girls may let their abilities go “underground” during junior high school, and may adapt to their environments in other ways so that they will not appear gifted.
- Of all the special problems of general conduct which the most intelligent children face, I will mention five, which beset them in early years and may lead to habits subversive of fine leadership: (1) to find enough hard and interesting work at school; (2) to suffer fools gladly; (3) to keep from becoming negativistic toward authority; (4) to keep from becoming hermits; (5) to avoid the formation of habits of extreme chicanery
After reading that article, I found myself looking into the differences between moderately gifted individuals and those who are more highly gifted. And I found myself revisiting the intellectual achievements of my life. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it so say that in addition to other suggestive but not easily quantifiable data points, I discovered that my score on the SAT, for which I did not study, is just shy of the admission requirements for at least one high-IQ society open to people with documented IQ scores in the top 99.9 percentile, putting me squarely into at least the highly gifted category.
I still don’t really believe it, but every time I read an article about the vulnerabilities of highly gifted children as opposed to moderately gifted children, I recognize myself and wonder whether I could have been raised and educated in a way that didn’t leave so many scars. I had started hiding in plain sight by the time I was 5 and it took me 30 years of underachievement to understand why.
I want to know, what can we do to encourage identification of highly-gifted children before they start shutting themselves down?