Being exceptionally creative, smart, sensitive and intense can be challenging
Elaine Aron, PhD comments on some of the consequences of being very sensitive as a child: “…family and school problems, childhood illnesses, and the like all affected you more than others. Furthermore, you were different from other kids and almost surely suffered for that.”
One example of a creative person who has talked about some of those problems:
“I did not perform well socially in junior high. I was a strange girl and I was in a lot of pain because of that, like most teenagers.” Claire Danes
If identified early in life as gifted, a prodigy, a Wunderkind, genius etc – that label can be another kind of burden, along with not fitting in socially.
High ability does not always lead to high achievement
Many highly talented people do achieve great things or feel creatively fulfilled as adults, but there can be many challenges on the way, including coming to terms with an identity as ‘gifted’ or ‘exceptional.’
In her article Growing Up Gifted Is Not Easy, Elaine Aron (author of The Highly Sensitive Person) writes about people being put into a role as a beyond-human exemplar, which can start in childhood or as a teen.
She writes, “There’s one thing about archetypes: No one can be identified with an archetype without being greatly damaged by it. It’s just too much.
“Women who identify with the Great Mother, or are identified by others with Aphrodite (e.g. Marilyn Monroe), for example, or men who identify with the Hero (JFK, Martin Luther King Jr.) will sooner or later try to do things or be expected to do things beyond human capabilities, or be scapegoated for failing, or martyred in some way.”
From post Gifted, talented and archetyped
Talented people can be both idolized and resented
In her article Young + Brilliant, Blessed + Cursed Patti Hartigan writes about young people with exceptionally high levels of intelligence often struggling “to balance the life of the mind and their place in the regular, workaday world, a struggle that intensifies as they reach adulthood.
“Starting with their first social or academic encounters, they face conflicting reactions to their talents.
“On one hand, they are viewed as anomalies, strange beings who don’t fit in with other children and who are sent out to the school hallway (or, in one humiliating case, to the classroom closet) to work independently.
“They are often resented by teachers and peers. Such treatment can do irrevocable damage, especially for those who are awkward or shy.
“At the same time, learning comes so easily that they are used to excelling, and they are frequently singled out for their extraordinary abilities.”
Resource to help support emotional health:
Therapist Sharon M. Barnes works with creative, sensitive, intense, intelligent people.
Her site explains her program:
We designed the CASIGY™ (Creative, Acutely Aware, Super-Sensitive, Intense and/or Gifted You-s) Social-Emotional ACES Home Video Program™ to help you become ACES, that is, skilled experts in the Social-Emotional arena.
You’ll learn to ride the intense waves of emotion in your life, instead of being pulled under by them.
And if you have creative, sensitive or gifted children at home or in the classroom, it’s also designed to help them ride their waves of emotion instead of being flooded by them.
Resources for highly sensitive people
Coach Maria Pascucci asks: “Have you ever put on a mask to hide your sensitivity, and protect yourself from ridicule and judgment?”
In her free webinar, she talks about herself as well as a client who suffered from doing that, and she talks about how to “Come home to your sensitivity.”
Sign up for webinar:
Read more about her programs and see videos in article:
Maria Pascucci – Empowering Sensitive Women
[Note – Maria also works with men.]
A personal note
They are no longer alive to ask, but maybe my parents had some awareness of these kinds of problems (not that I was a prodigy, by any means) and chose to pretty much ignore my differentness, except for allowing my grade school to advance me a couple of grades “on account of my height” as they explained it.
Why bother acknowledging your gifted qualities?
In her post Gifted Adult – Pros and Cons of a Label Elisa notes, “There is a lot of debate about whether it’s good to apply the label ‘gifted’ or bad. Certainly a lot of people reject the label, possibly because gifted is a terrible word and there is ambiguity as well as misconceptions about what being a gifted adult is.”
But, she adds, “For me, having the experience of my life explained by someone else, having words put to it, is affirming. To re-consider some of the qualities that I thought were particular to me as part of a shared experience is helpful.
“I think differently and have emotional responses that are are often out of step with people around me. I appreciate having some context for my unusual perspective and I am less likely to see it as ’something wrong with me’ personally but to recognize it within the framework of my being a gifted adult.”
Life coach Lisa Lauffer affirms, “There is a point to exploring giftedness as a grownup, and this is it: if you are a gifted person, you can only live the life you were meant to live if you acknowledge and integrate your giftedness into your adult life.”
[From her post Exploring Grownup Giftedness: What’s the Point?]
One aspect of that recognition is authentic, positive self esteem.
Stephanie S. Tolan notes in her article Self-Knowledge, Self-Esteem and the Gifted Adult, “Many gifted adults seem to know very little about their minds and how they differ from more ‘ordinary’ minds.
“The result of this lack of self-knowledge is often low, sometimes cripplingly low self esteem.”
It may not be comfortable, or help us be as “ordinary” or compatible with the majority as we may feel we want to be, but recognizing and accepting ourselves as exceptional can help us realize our talents. Isn’t that worth some discomfort?