I’m obsessed with finding out if I’m gifted.
I mean, if it looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, do I need a zoologist to prove to me it’s a duck?
My older sister used to call me a spaz when she was being kind, and accuse me of being bi-polar when she was not. I was, and am hyper when I’m fully engaged and excited about something that intellectually or creatively stimulates me or with other intelligent people I can philosophize with.
My mother says she thought I had an IQ of 130, but then she said she doesn’t remember if that was my brother instead.
In finding my high school and college records, I have found the following things about myself:
1. There was no formal gifted program in the late 1980s, but I was tracked into advanced English and science tracks. I had at least one advanced math class, but most of them were regular classes.
I also took an English class at night at the local community college while I was a senior in high school. I think if I was better at math, I could have taken a math class there too.
2. About the math, I believe I had a bit of a learning disability, particularly dyscalculia, because I can’t hold in my head and mentally calculate more than single digit numbers. I have a very slow mental math processing speed too, and consequently to this day I have math anxiety when it comes to timed math tests or mental math. But give me paper and pencil and enough time, I didn’t have much problem. I also have a lot of trouble making mental rotations of objects.
3. I have estimated my IQ simply by converting my old ACT score to SAT and then to IQ, I can pretty confidently say that I have an IQ of at least 125 (and that’s what I’m going to believe).
4. For whatever it’s worth, I got an award from the National Science Olympiad for a high score in biology. Depending on how hard it was to do that, and what my actual score was, this could be impressive or just mediocre. I also was on my school’s Scholastic Bowl team, often answering the biology questions with success. Between that and the score of 31 I got on the science section of the ACT certainly explains why I gravitated to a degree in biotechnology.
5. I had lived with an emotionally abusive family. My mother, divorced when I was 2, remarried when I was 5. There was a lot of fighting going on between my step-dad and her, often bringing my half-brother and sister into their fights, and I had to intervene a lot to protect them (they were only 7 and 4 at the time). When my mom wasn’t fighting with him, she was fighting with me. So was my oldest sister (telling me I was crazy).
6. I was accepted at the University of Chicago but declined to go. My mother refused to let me live on campus. I couldn’t commute there while coming home to fighting almost every day. However, I did land a great job there, 7 years later. That must count for something.
7. I worked part-time all through college, at least 16 hours a week the first two years and 20 hours the second two years, and managed to keep a decent GPA.
8. I got every job I ever set my sights on, but also got restless within 3-5 years. I was in microbiology, forensic DNA analysis, and medical genetics.
9. I have an intense need to learn, to reflect, to philosophize, to analyze, to write and make sense of the world around me.
10. I never stop thinking. I even think about thinking. And I daydream, a lot.
11. I write. A lot. On message boards, on three blogs, carefully constructed letters to my children’s teachers, providing advice or expressing my POV with references to back up my points.
12. I frequent gifted message boards, feeling camaraderie and understanding there. But I still feel like a charlatan. I feel without an IQ score, I have no credentials to let me feel like I truly belong, despite the fact that I understand what they are communicating.
13. I can have extreme highs and lows. Lately, I’m finding myself on a quest for deeper understanding of myself and my dreams for the future – now that I tabled my science career indefinitely to be a stay at home mom, I’m restless again. Well, I can’t honestly say I was ever not restless, but the intensity of it has waxed and waned.
14. Because I’ve given myself the freedom to think about pursuing writing more, I am that spaz my sister called me – I’m hyperfocused, I’m skipping meals because I just have to write one more thought down just so, I sounded “hyper” when I was talking to my husband about the possibility of writing. But because I can’t do that indefinitely, I end up crashing and burning. The elation I felt yesterday and driven intensity I had earlier today has left me exhausted now.
15. I have extreme emotional sensitivities. I feel highly empathetic to others. If I care about the person, their pain and distress becomes my own. And even if I don’t know them, if I take the time to hear their stories, I still feel personally vested in them. I don’t always think this is a good thing, because I go to great lengths to share what I have learned so they might take comfort in that, and it really drains me so.
The strange thing is, though I think like a gifted person, I talk like a gifted person, I act like a gifted person, but without a professional to proclaim it or a concrete number to “prove” it, I don’t feel I am a gifted person, but only a wanna-be gifted person: always a bridesmaid but never a bride.
And yet, I’m afraid to go get a test to find out. I’m afraid I will test poorly. After all, I’m 38 and it’s been so long since I’ve had any standardized tests. I’m afraid it will really show that I’m not truly gifted, but simply “above average”.
Without the hopes of claiming giftedness and Dabrowski’s OEs (often associated with gifted individuals) to explain my idiosyncrasies, what do I have to fall back on? The idea that I am truly unstable. This is a label I have fought hard to deny. I’d rather be gifted than crazy.