I am not kidding when I say that I have tried to write on this topic at least a half dozen times. Here, for guest posts, for the book that is
sucking my will to live in a good but exhausting way in progress. Even this post took two days and countless changes, atypical of my usual workflow. The universe finally kicked me in the head on Wednesday when Douglas Eby’s wonderful post Multiple Talents, Multiple Passions, Burnout came through my Facebook feed.
Multipotentialities in the gifted population is pretty common. I remember when I first heard of it my immediate thought was, “There’s a name for that? I’m normal?” Normal, of course, being relative. Ahem. But I was stunned and relieved to learn that wanting to learn/try/do so many things and knowing deep down that you could do a damned fine job at quite a few of them had a name. I thought it was just being mentally flighty, and I struggled with it for years. I still do. I worked with the wonderful Lisa Lauffer a few years ago, trying to find which of my many interests would be The One. So many possibilities, so burnt out inside. If I picked one, the others would have to go by the wayside. And so I was stuck.
They’re a curse in that there is just so much in this world to learn, to do, and it’s all fascinating. A couple years ago I read AJ Jacob’s awesome book The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, about his quest to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. In it, he interviewed Alex Trebek, who stated something along the lines of ‘I’m curious about everything, even things I’m not interested in.’ That line perfectly sums it up. It’s a curse, especially now with the internet; information is so readily available. Tom asks me what I’m going to do on any given day. My answer is homeschooling and slogging through the to-do list. What that really means is homeschooling and becoming paralyzed by all that I want to do. The world won’t end if it doesn’t get done, but a little part of me withers away when the sun sets and I realize that I’ve moved exactly zero steps towards the eleventy billion interests I have. The blessing is having eleventy billion interests. There is always something new to learn or experience…if you’re not exhausted and paralyzed by trying to decide which one you’ll pursue first.
I used to be quite focused, back in the day when I studied flute to the exclusion of nearly everything else. In my studies, I was convinced I would be so much better if I could be consistent and lock focus and ignore everything else and just work. In truth, I would have been a lot better, but I couldn’t maintain focus at that level no matter how hard I tried. There were so many other things demanding my attention after so many years of being neglected. Eventually I did burn out on the flute, and now rarely play. That’s partly because it is often physically painful (Hi there nerve damage! Hi there TMJ!), and partly because I’ll never get to the level I was at pre-burnout and it hurts to hear myself now. When Tom and I first met (19 years ago this summer OH MY GOD WHEN DID WE GET SO OLD? HOLY CRAP I’VE BEEN WITH HIM HALF MY LIFE!!) I still had that intense focus. Driven. Passionate. I knew what I was going to do. I’m not like that anymore, and I often feel like he’s the victim of relationship bait and switch. He married the driven flutist with few outside interests; today that person is long gone, replaced by a woman with many different interests, many different passions, and a case of adult-onset child-induced ADHD. Simply having kids makes it nearly impossible to indulge in intense focus. He, however, still has laser focus, which, when combined with his extreme giftedness and
oh my holy hell overexcitabilities, has its own challenges. The gifted marriage is all kinds of fun, kids!
Eby’s article, and the ones to which he links, convinced me that I need to take a step back. Especially now with homeschooling A, I have far too much on my plate. Stuff is falling off and getting stepped on and eventually a squished grape is going to bring me to my knees. Stuff I ordinarily enjoy doing is pissing me off, simply because it’s one more thing to do, and I’m doing it poorly at that. This rambling post falls into that category, I’m afraid. I was nuts to add NaBloPoMo to my schedule this month, and in the interest of contentment, I cry UNCLE. I didn’t post yesterday and hey, I’m still here. I know this post is the ultimate in navel gazing, but I also know I’m not alone in this. And if you’re a gifted adult, I’d guess that you know exactly what I’m talking about here.