This is only slightly about twice-exceptionalities and mostly a book review, but given that I’m starting to believe that “vanilla gifted” doesn’t really exist, I’m doing it anyway. Feeling contrary like that today.
On the recommendation of Lisa from Deep Waters Coaching, I picked up Gifted Grownups: The mixed blessings of extraordinary potential by Marylou Kelly Streznewski. And I’m going to be upfront here: this is going to be a toughie to write, and not just because I have a four year old bouncing a stuffed duck on me as I type.
I’ve been digging into this book for several weeks now, and only because it’s due back at the library today was I able to finally finish it last night. That’s nothing against the book, it’s very well written, and everything against me and my schedule/mindset/choices. I’m having a hard time completing thoughts lately, not to mention books. Unlike many of the gifted books I have read in recent months, this one does not focus on children or on the educational system or on parenting gifted kids. This book is simply about gifted adults. I found it fascinating in that it helped me see down the road a bit in raising my sons, showcasing some of the roadblocks that may be ahead, through the anecdotal interviews of gifted adults looking backward at their lives.
I’m having a hard time describing the book, mainly because I’m still processing it, and because I have a four year old bouncing a stuffed duck on me as I type. I found this to be a fascinating read, and not just because I’m raising (very likely) gifted sons. I saw my husband in many, many of the descriptions in this book. I know he struggled with anxiety and social crap growing up, and I strongly believe it was because he’s highly gifted, grew up in rural Iowa in the 70s/80s, and the support he needed just wasn’t available. He swallowed down, in my opinion, a lot of crap (now would probably be part of a 2e dx) and became what the book calls a “striver.” Strivers are described as “high-testing teacher-pleasers,” that they take endless pains to do things right, and at the behest of authority will meet almost superhuman requirements. Dingdingding! Introducing my husband! He works tremendously hard and does not know how NOT to. It has made him very successful in his field, but has also made him very stressed and difficult to be around sometimes…which is not a lot of fun when he works from home.
So, I see my husband in this book, but what about me? Giftedness is very likely hereditary, and at least one of my sons would be considered gifted…what about me? And this is where I get all uncomfortable and squirmy. I have no idea if I would be called gifted. None. I was in pull-out supplemental classes in 4th and 5th grade (we studied advertising one year and law the next…how many fifth graders learn to write a case study?), advanced classes in middle school, and a few advanced classes (mostly English) in high school. I had the unfortunate luck to have a craptastic high school counselor who told me, as an incoming freshman, that my math scores just weren’t high enough for advanced math classes and therefore I shouldn’t be in advanced science classes (my love) either. I still hear the reverberating kaboom from that meeting. So I excelled in music, where I was given support and positive feedback. But does that mean I’m gifted? It’s not difficult to recognize others as gifted, but seeing it in one’s self is. And at this point in my life, would it even matter? I think having a gifted designation for a child makes sense, because it helps get services from the schools. But a gifted designation for an adult? Why? Other than “oh! that makes sense now!”…why? Gifted Grownups also talks about parenting as a gifted adult and how balancing family and one’s self can be challenging. No kidding. I do often wonder about “the road not taken” because I’m sure I hide and have hidden behind my family responsibilities. Oh, can’t do that, wouldn’t be able to balance it with the family. Oh, shouldn’t do that, it would interfere with my family. I feel like I even turned down opportunities before I had children, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to balance it once they arrived and then why even start. Yeah, I’m a real piece of work. No wonder I feel like I’m in a mid-life crisis.
And now I’m rambling, the duck is driving me insane, and we have things to go do. Get the book. Read the book. I’d love to hear your opinions on it.
the duck is killing me! lol.
I’m intrigued by the book–did you take it back to our library?! I’m going there later today…wonder if it would be in circulation…
I have a hard time thinking ‘gifted’ about any of my family, because my idea of gifted is the person doing calculus at 5 and in college by 11. 🙂 I’m just now comfortable claiming the gifted title for my kids, but I find it hard to apply it to me. My hubby? totally gifted and I need to read this book just for his sake alone (as you can imagine, I have lots of labels for his ‘personality glitches’ none of which are as kind as gifted, lol) .
Thanks for the review!
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OK, I’ll take the credit–or the blame–for recommending this book! I’m still reading it and finding it slow going as I’m underlining about every other sentence. I really resonate with it for myself, my husband, the grownups I believe my kids will be someday, and the clients I serve (I’m a life coach who works with parents of gifted kids and with gifted grownups of all kinds).
Throughout the book, to illustrated her points, the author tells the stories of many gifted adults. I’ve found these stories intriguing and enlightening. What I have yet to see is whether she’ll discuss the concept of Impostor Syndrome, which I see rampant in many adults, women in particular (maybe even on this blog ). We find it difficult to acknowledge our own giftedness. We’ll point it out in others freely, but for ourselves, naw, that can’t be. What is that? Even if we were identified as gifted as children, we think perhaps we’ve lost it. Why do we believe that? I don’t have the answer to those questions, but I see it a lot.
But being gifted, as I know you know, is about more than the IQ score. It’s an entire personality profile. So if you’re seeing yourself in many of the stories of this book, I encourage you to try on the gifted label for awhile and see how it fits. See what might be possible if you (the collective readership of this blog) were to set yourself free to believe that you are that brilliant, that funny, that sensitive, that creative, that…whatever gifted characteristics you suspect might live deep within you. What could happen in your world–and in this world–if you were to completely own your power?
I can’t wait to find out!
I am pretty sceptical about the “gifted” designation especially for little kids. how many times is it just the parents wanting, striving, pushing their kids.
What is the difference between highly intelligent and gifted?
I always though gifted people have a very tough time in the world and many of them probably need IEPs but some parents may feel, “my kids is gifted! Not special!”
O brother. Sounds like an interesting book tho.
One of the issues Stephanie S. Tolan brings up in her article Self-Knowledge, Self-Esteem and the Gifted Adult is self-identification: “Many gifted adults seem to know very little about their minds and how they differ from more ‘ordinary’ minds..”
From my post Gifted and talented and still hiding out