Giftedness refers to special talents provided at birth, including extra intelligence
Willem Kuipers is author of the book Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon: Extra Intelligent, Intense, and Effective.
Read the Foreword by Linda Silverman (and see link to the author’s site) in the post The Gift of Being Uncommon.
In a section of the book – “Is it a Gift to be Uncommon?” – he writes about how people who are Xi [eXtra Intelligent or Intense] may view their exceptional abilities.
Here is an excerpt from that section:
Giftedness refers literally to special talents, somehow provided at birth. Extra intelligence refers literally to an uncommon overdose, compared to standard availability.
It is well known that the label gifted is generally not welcomed by the person in question, whether child or adult.
This can be due to worries about possible stigmatization as a strange exception to normal, or about the implied expectation or felt obligation to be an outstanding performer…
That makes it different from something we acquire through our own efforts, like commodities or possessions.
Giving and gifts play an important role in our celebrations and generally in the affirmation of mutual relations.
At birthdays for instance, we celebrate the gift of having lived for another year, we offer gifts and hospitality to our dear ones and receive their gifts in return.
Gifts have to be reciprocated to keep their essence of being a gift; that is maintaining the relation.
A talent is a gift: Although one needs to develop the talent through conscious effort, its initial appearance is a gift.
Inspiration and intuition are also a gift: Their appearance cannot be forced or adequately forecasted.
Therefore, the creation of a true work of art comes partly as a gift to the artist, and many artists feel that way about their creations.
Hyde [Lewis Hyde, author of the book “The Gift. Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World”] argues that looking at such a work of art conveys an awareness of that gift to the beholder.
That makes it art instead of an everyday commodity: We are touched by it gift-like, in a way that has no direct relation with the price we paid for museum entry or even ownership.
Thus many artists feel grateful that talents and inspiration have been bestowed upon them.
They feel the urge to share the results with their environment, and their gift is reciprocated through public attention, admiration, official prizes, and, to some extent, through money to account for their daily costs of living.
There are XIPs who consider their uncommon intelligence somehow as a gift; they certainly did not ask for it at birth.
Others may consider it an act of God, a weird trick of fate, a cosmic joke or a genetic inevitability.
But in all cases there is most often a drive to do something special with it, a sense of mission, even when the mission itself is far from understood as yet.
Additionally, many XIPs are aware that they can have curious bursts of creativity.
Their inspiration to be creative comes regularly, but still at unexpected moments, and its results can often amaze themselves and their environment.
It is our experience that many XIPs, when they recognize their being Xi, express an urge to use their gifts to improve the world, to provide help by solving very complicated social problems and the like.
They do not necessarily expect to be paid abundantly but would like to get some credits in return. In other words, they experience a drive to continue the cycle of giving, and are definitely not focused on getting the highest price for their scarce commodity.
Although honourable as an intention, this attitude is not always practical. It leaves the XIP especially vulnerable when the offered gifts are criticized or refused by the intended recipients: implicitly or even explicitly, they make clear that they do not value the offered gift.
Thereby they refuse (the continuation of) the relation with the XIP. As a result, the XIP may start to question the value of the gift, and decide to stop using it or deny having it, as it brings no good, after all.
This can lead to stagnation of personal expression and development.
There are to my knowledge no standard recipes for the prevention of this kind of stagnation.
Not taking the criticisms as personal reproaches helps, as will be illustrated further on. Being aware that the issue exists helps too, and that is one of the reasons to have mentioned it here and now.
I will come back to that perspective in chapter six in the section on “Is it excellence or deviance?”
Fortunately, however, many XIPs thrive thanks to a stimulating environment, or a very independent mind which is hardly influenced by other people’s opinions: Their characteristic drive and intensity come in handy there.
I have a hypothesis that being very aware of one’s extra intelligence and especially one’s uncommon creative inspiration, almost entails considering this condition as something like a gift.
Or the other way around, the less one considers one’s Xi or creative inspiration to be something special, the easier it is to ask for and accept payments like one does for a commodity. I will come back to this hypothesis in chapter six in the section on Gift reciprocity.