Because I’m either gifted or crazy.

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.

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12 Responses to Because I’m either gifted or crazy.

  1. Evan says:

    This is pretty cool. I just came across your blog out of randomness, and have shared the same sentiments as you.

    Anyways, I came this group that tries to define the Gifted nature.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=12268846716

    It’s one of those things where you either know it’s you, or you know it’s not.

    Personally, I don’t think that Giftedness is exclusively IQ. If I recall my testing, it was part IQ, part Creativity – or something of that nature. Gifted is more towards an Intellectual excitability, versus a high intelligence. The traits you have expressed seems eerily similar to the ones mentioned.

    As well, I was just wondering where
    12. I frequent gifted message boards
    is.

    Thanks, keep on writing in the wordpress world

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Evan –

    Thanks for commenting and being able to relate. For a while, I thought I was going to yank this post, because I felt it was a bit selfish and bragging. But really, it was a way to affirm my own feelings and speculate why I feel so…well, hyper…when it comes to things I’m passionate about (which is ideas, writing, creativity, expressing myself).

    If you come back here to read this comment, one of the gifted message boards I was talking about was SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) http://www.sengifted.org/, although they disabled the message boards because discussions got a little out of hand, and there was no moderator. Some of the members created a spin-off, called My Gifted Life http://mygiftedlife.org/. They are in the process of re-doing their gifted website. The “old’ website is still active under the link http://archive.mygiftedlife.org/

    They also have some sister websites too, I think you can access once you are a member. There is a lot of good ideas and support for one another at MyGiftedLife.

  3. joanna says:

    I was writing a children’s book on Dabrowski’s OEs based my father’s research (he’s a PhD in gifted ed – he’s also doing research on mutism). I haven’t pursued it because its not what I really want to write, but I do know of what you speak 🙂

    From what I do know (and I don’t know much), I’d say you’re a classic. Just the fact that you are afraid to “fail” the gifted test is a giveaway!

  4. raisingsmartgirls says:

    If you ever write that book, I’d be interested in reading it.

    You know, I am beginning to think I have gifted traits, after all the things I’ve been writing about, the things I read about, the things I want to do. After spending a great deal of time just taking care of the kids and house, I finally feel like I’m waking up from a bit of a slumber. Now that I feel my brain becoming a little bit more limber, I want to do it all.

    It’s slightly frustrating is that I have so many things I want to do, and so many things I want to read, and only a finite amount of hours in the day to do them in.

  5. Spacemom says:

    I don’t really know what counts as gifted. I asked for my older daughter to be evaluated by the GT teacher at her school. I am glad I did because she is now in a 2 person reading group. She is reading at 1-2 grade levels above her level and I want her to remain challenged.

    I think you are a person who likes the challenges. As you flex your brain more, I think you will find it working better for you!

  6. kellycat2552 says:

    I can identify. Its refreshing to connect with people who share common experiences. I am new to blogging and even though I wrote a piece, I am not sure it is being posted. I just found out about tags etc. Gifted Adults was one of them. I will be checking your writing from time to time. Good luck.

    Kellycat

  7. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Spacemom- yes, I definitely loved to be challenged. I don’t think I ever really turned down a challenge yet. I always went after things I wasn’t quite experienced with, but loved to gain on the job exposure. So many people keep telling me to get a part time job, but really, what is mostly available part-time isn’t going to be challenging in the way I want.

    December is going to definitely be my creative month, because I have so many Christmas projects I’m wanting to complete. Making toys is my favorite thing to do, and it’s a creative challenge I like. I taught myself how to use a sewing machine and do some simple embroidery. I’m teaching my girls that too.

  8. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Kellycat, I’d love to read your blog but I’m having trouble finding it. Normally, I can just link on the name, but it could be we have a new adblocker installed, so maybe it won’t let me. I will try to find your blog a different way.

  9. Ellen says:

    I enjoyed this post. Although I blog on other topics elsewhere, I started a blog to explore these questions and experiences about adult giftedness which is something I never before thought about. (I’m just a couple years older than you)

    • raisingsmartgirls says:

      I’m sorry Ellen. I didn’t mean to miss your comment. Sometimes if a few comments come in on the same day, I lose track of where the older ones go. I think I need to explore how to manage comments better on wordpress.

      I did read your blog and found you very interesting. I wish I knew that “local blog” you have

  10. Sarah says:

    I can confidently say that you have many characteristics of a gifted person, but remember that you do not need anyone to tell you that to make it true.

    I fall into that realm of obsession over “identifying” giftedness or learning differences, too, and I am really tired because of it. It is a never-ending circle. It is especially hard if you are “twice exceptional”.

    You are probably both a perfectionist and an underachiever (though you have achieved a lot). 38 is neither too young nor too old to change that!

    You should contact Dr. Sylvia Rimm in Ohio and ask her to follow up with you on this. She’s an expert’s expert!

    Good luck!

    p.s. I am just a few years younger than you. I was identified as gifted when I was young but never placed. I’ve done okay for myself but still face the same cosmic hurdles as you do. Now my children are gifted and I am advocating for them. Its a new generation!

  11. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks Sarah. I appreciate having the validation.

    Can you believe, still, even after I’ve been studying giftedness for over a year, I have my doubts at times?

    Mostly because I feel what good is it knowing I’m not achieving much these days. Still. Hoping to figure that out before my next year, when my littlest one goes to K.

    My girls are at the top of their classes, and, at least with regards to reading levels, they are reading 2-4 grades above their grades. I haven’t pushed for any grade skips, because at least for the moment, they seem okay with their classes. The school seems to meet them at least part-way and they seem to be happy with the classes and if they need more challenge they get it at home.

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