What Does Gifted Look Like? Clearing Up Your Confusion

Linda Silverman's picture

by Paula Prober, M.S., M.Ed.

 
 
People are astonished by how much you can do. You think you’re lazy. There’s so much that you’re not doing.
 

People tell you how smart you are. You feel dumb. You know how much you don’t know and you still haven’t decided what you want to be when you grow up.

 
People admire your (musical, artistic, mathematical, linguistic, etc.) talents. You think they’re patronizing you. You notice all of the mistakes you make. Surely, they do, too, but they’re too polite to mention them.

How is it possible that you see yourself as a lazy not-so-smart slacker and others see you as so-lucky-to-be-gifted? How can your sense of yourself be so different from how others see you?
 
Like life in the rain forest, it’s complicated.
Maybe it’s your super high expectations. You don’t realize that others don’t have similar standards. Doesn’t everyone want to create beauty, balance, harmony and justice all of the time? Don’t all people value precision?
 
Um, no.
Maybe it’s your enthusiasm for learning about, well, everything. Isn’t everyone obsessed with reading and researching multiple disparate topics instead of sleeping, which is such a waste of time? Aren’t all people thrilled that MIT is offering classes online? Doesn’t everyone dream of changing career paths every 3-5 years?
 
Not really.
Maybe it’s your capacity for observing and perceiving and noticing. Isn’t everyone bothered by the buzzing florescent lights, the crooked pictures on the wall, the house in your neighborhood that was painted chartreuse?
 
Nope.
Maybe it’s your extra sensitivity and empathy. Can’t everyone feel the distress in the room? Isn’t everyone overwhelmed by the news? Don’t all humans want to save the world?
 
Nah.
 
So, if you’re confused by the difference between the feedback that you get and your own self-perception, time to get unconfused.
 
Maybe it’s your highest standards, your zest for learning, your keen capacity to perceive, your intense sensitivity and your exceptional empathy.
 

Maybe that is what gifted looks like.

 

In May of 2016, Dr. Linda Silverman wrote the following review of Paula's book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released:

 

I love Your Rainforest Mind. Paula is a counselor of the gifted in Oregon, who has written delightful articles for Advanced Development about the journey to self-awareness of gifted adults. Wondering what a Rainforest Mind (RMF) is?  Here is a taste:
 
If you think of people as ecosystems, you can see some as meadows, others as deserts, some as mountains—and some as rain forests. While all ecosystems are beautiful and make valuable contributions to the whole, rain forests are particularly complex: multi-layered, highly sensitive, colorful, intense, creative, fragile, overwhelming, and misunderstood, while thick with possibility and pulsing with life, death, and transformation. … The rain forest is not a better ecosystem, just more complicated. It also makes an essential contribution to the planet when allowed to be itself, rather than when cut down and turned into something it is not. (p. xi)
 
This is just the beginning. It gets even better. Interwoven with rich case studies from Paula’s counseling practice, Your Rainforest Mind will be earmarked and tear-stained. Prepare to lose your first copy to your best friend.