I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just Lucky


I’m not gifted, the teacher likes me. 

I’m not gifted, I’m a good test taker.

I’m not gifted, I barely passed calculus.

I’m not gifted, this is easy.

I’m not gifted, I haven’t done anything remarkable.

Sound familiar?

But what if you are g-g-gifted. Why do you feel like you aren’t? Why do you feel like a fake? An impostor? Why do you feel like you’re just sneaking by and one day it will all come crashing down?

As usual, with you, there are no simple answers. But take a look at the following list and identify which of these situations are true:

• You were praised a lot by your parents for your early achievements so you now feel enormous pressure to perform perfectly because your worth depends on it.

• You were told that you were so smart, over and over. You came to believe that learning anything should always be easy.

• School work was not challenging. You could procrastinate until the very last minute and still get an “A.” So the grade didn’t mean much because you didn’t put in any effort.

• You were praised by your parents and teachers for things you felt you didn’t deserve. You could see your mistakes and had higher standards for yourself than they did.

• You think you should know how to do many things without working at them or without having to practice.

• You were singled out in school for your good grades and then bullied by your peers. You intentionally started to get lower grades.

• Your sibling was the intelligent one. You were the other one.

• You grew up in a seriously dysfunctional family so your perception about who you really are is quite distorted.

• You were criticized excessively by your parents and, now, even when you succeed, you hear their voices in your head.

(Note to parents: So sorry that this puts lots of responsibility on you but I’m a therapist. What did you expect? Smile. Groan.)

• When you know how much better your work could be, you aren’t content with your achievements.

• You didn’t get good grades in school. You were highly sensitive and creative. Your intelligence wasn’t noticed.

• You dropped out of college.

• You believe strongly in equality so you try not to appear smarter than anyone else.

• Racism and sexism have been internalized so you doubt your abilities.

• You’ve gotten mixed messages about achievement. If you’re a female, you’re not really supposed to excel too much. You’re told it’s unfeminine and unattractive.

• When you don’t work hard or don’t have to struggle to achieve your goal, then you can’t give yourself credit for it.

• If you acknowledge that you’re very smart, then you have a responsibility to contribute to creating a better world. And that responsibility is terrifying.


I know this is a long odd conglomeration of things but do any of them fit for you? Many of them? A combination of these experiences could lead you to conclude that your achievements are not due to your intelligence. And most unequivocally not your g-g-giftedness.

Which you don’t have.

At all.


Note to my blogEEs: I’d love to hear your reactions to this post. How does it fit or not fit for you? Women usually relate to impostor-ism the most. If you’re a male, how do you experience this impostor syndrome? Do you? Your thoughts, feelings and comments will help me select what to write in a future post, which will include ideas on what you can do about it. I promise.

Photos from creative commons: 



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Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

96 responses to “I’m Not Gifted, I’m Just Lucky”

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  1. JD Allen Avatar
    JD Allen

    I am a gifted-kid-become-college-student. I was high achieving and successful in high school, and got lots of awards that I didn’t feel I deserved. I wanted to spend my first year in college as an unassuming freshman, just going through the system and being normal. I’ve ended up right back in the thick of it though, still pushing myself to achieve and work hard. In my senior year, I stuffed my love of math and science because I didn’t want my friends to feel inadequate. I got burned out because of the pressure that I put on myself. I’m trying to learn more about these feelings so that I don’t repeat that experience. It is difficult, but I am glad that this space is here so I can learn more.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Glad you are here, JD.

  2. TheWeaver Avatar

    What a very interesting website and post, and delightfully facebook free environment this blog-site is.

    This is my very first time actually engaging in something like this.

    So, I am an 32 years old male and I live in Denmark. I have actually spent a fair amount of time (years actually) engaged in what i would describe as rather intense introspection.
    Introspection and google can lead one down many dark and weary paths and i find this imposter-“syndrome” path to be one of them.
    A parallel road to this is in my view covert narcissism which is yet another box in which I find a lot of painful resonance.
    Covert narcissism and imposter-syndrome seems to go very well hand and as this article/study suggests https://tinyurl.com/y9wqhube the covert narcissist benefits from the imposter-syndrome by quote:

    “After all, claiming that one’s ability is lower than it appears may lower the expectations of others, prompting encouragement from them and protecting your image if you fail, and inflating the impact of your performance if you succeed.”. This would make the imposter-syndrome a tool in a, in my view, more “sinister” plot of ego-inflation and gaining “narcissistic supply” (check out Sam Vaknin if you dare)

    Where I think my story differs from many of those above is that I in no way am an A grade student – nor have I any higher academic education. I do have a degree in fysio therapy. I measured my IQ once and to my great peril got a score of “only” 106, that was more than 15 years ago.

    Where I find resonance with this post is in the way I as a child was told constantly by my mother, that I am a very smart kid. Every time I would succeed in something this would be mentioned again and again, and mainly by my mother.
    I was not a very athletic child nor was I particularly popular, but being constantly told by my parents and my teachers how very smart and talented I was I thought that some great destiny would surely await me, that i would turn out to be some sort of genius in some field to be discovered.
    But as time passed and i entered high school, I found myself not having a easy time with anything. I worked hard to try and understand math but i really couldn’t – my grade ended up being a C I think.
    And so I would suspect cognitive dissonance occurred because how did this “having a hard time intellectually” and having an IQ of 106 correlate with being smart and gifted – it didn’t.

    So here is where I honestly think I am an actual imposter – I became aware of faking to understand what was being taught or talked about – I figuered out how to mimic understanding something without actually having a clue… and it is something that has haunted me since highschool – being thought of as smart had become part of my identity.
    I recently found a great deal of actual relief in finally acknowledging “okay, maybe I am actually not a super talented person – maybe i am very average or even a tad below average”. It felt like a great burden was lifted – it actually felt good.
    I now make a great effort of never claiming that I am something which I think I am not – I will rather overperform as a garbagecollector than underperform as a physio therapist. Did i mention I am currently unemployed and have been for the last 9 month, because I quit my job on the basis of not performing well enough? Because that I yes felt like an imposter…. Funny thing is I noticed many of my other colleagues on multiple occasions clearly prentending to know what they were talking about when it was so cringeworthily obvious they didn’t – and they describe themselves as experts… I find that sickening… and not honest or okay…

    I think there is a vast problem in this global society today where we have become the idols of ourselves and are being taught that nothing are impossible and with are the sole creators of our own fates. It is great if you succeed – you take all the credit for your victories. But when you fail you also feel tremendous shame and blame, because you and you alone are the creator of your failure.

    I actually think it would be very wise to recognize that you do not choose nor create the potential of your brain, you don’t choose your genes or your parents or the environment in which you grow up. You have potential within certain limits. If you are born with downs syndrome – you will never engage in the field of advanced mathematics or any other field requiring higher cognitive capabilities – and I would never think of a person with downs that he or she is to blame for not achieving beyond a certain point.

    I actually think many of us are real impostors – not intentionally. We just become aware and the awareness burns away at us. I think i is symptom of our time, where excellence is expected and so we take on mantles of perfection – but none really are. We delude ourselves. it is actually both sad and horrible…

    Funny how this reply turned out to be nothing like what I actually intended to begin with… see why I struggled with my academic work..lol.

    1. TheWeaver Avatar

      Arh. posted this on the wrong thread… was supposed to be on the “Goodbye To Your Impostor Syndrome — Hello To Your Authentic Self” … typical…

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for sharing, TheWeaver. I’d encourage you to read more of this blog just to see if you your conclusions here are correct. You’ll see that some gifted folks don’t do well in school for various reasons. So school performance in itself isn’t a sign of intelligence or lack of it. I’m glad you found us!

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I was just diagnosed twice exceptional (gifted with ADHD) not even a month ago, and even though the IQ tests can’t lie, I just can’t stop thinking ‘this is a mistake, I’m not gifted at all, and my subconscious has somehow conned the neuropsychologist into thinking I am’.
    It’s literally obsessing me, and has lead me to just avoid the subject altogether. I’m 18 years old, and I want to accept my diagnosis, it would certainly make me feel better about myself if it was true, but I can’t. I’m just not intelligent enough in my mind. I also haven’t felt different enough, especially not in my family. And outside of my home, I don’t really care that I’m different, which makes me not sure that I even am, since everyone speaks about how hard it is to feel so different and I’m not experiencing it.
    The beginning sentences of this post were so familiar they brought tears to my eyes haha
    I don’t know how to make myself believe and accept who I am, and feeling like a lie and a fraud all the time is just absolute hell…
    Sorry about the long post, I just feel like if there is one place where I can talk about this, it’s here haha

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes. This is the place to talk about it. Keep reading. If you resonate with much of what I write, then, it’s more evidence that your “diagnosis” is correct and you are gifted! Many people here struggle with acknowledging their rainforest minds!

  4. EwaB Avatar

    okay, only discovered this website in november 2017, but of course starting at the first blog after some roaming because that is what I do.
    but on this topic, I still have nightmares, the kind that have me sitting up straight in bed and scared to go back to sleep, about what? well they ( dont ask who but THEY) finallly figured out that I skipped a class at elementery school so i have to go back and take it again. But I get lost in the school, all the kids are smarter then me, I go blank dont understand a word of what the teacher is saying. PANIC.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh my gosh. So sorry about the nightmares!! I hope that as you read more, you find some information that helps. Good to have you here.

  5. topumasum Avatar

    Someone just told me that I’m merely lucky and not g-g-gifted due to receiving a phd with funds.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hm…so that makes NO sense!

  6. A Guide for Mavericks, Renegades and Rebels in the Workplace | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] her reading workbook in one night; for working ahead. Carmen hadn’t thought of herself as gifted, but couldn’t help seeing herself in […]

  7.  Avatar

    12 items applicable. Thanks.

  8. If I Can Do It, So Can You — Finding Your Purpose(s) | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] and other types of inner work.) I write about accepting and showing your rainforestness here and here. I write about how psychotherapy works here and here.  Career paths here and here. Parenting, […]

  9. JB Avatar

    I dropped out of high school & now have a GED, BS, MA & PhD. I am an Associate professor of economics at a state university. A couple of years ago, a colleague asked me to cover an awards ceremony speech he was supposed to give at the local high school. I had 2 days to prepare & no idea what to say, so I told a bit of my story & spoke from the heart. I’ve now been asked to give the same basic speech 3 times, including a commencement address to about 400 people. Standing there, I couldn’t get over the feeling that I wasn’t qualified to speak to anyone about success & life, etc that you typically hear at a grad ceremony. I just tried to look into the stage lights or the back row of the audience so I couldn’t see people’s reactions & hoped to get through it without puking or passing out. As I finished my speech, I saw a woman practically leap out of her seat to start the standing ovation that followed. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough but my feet were frozen. When I finally got off the stage (probably wasn’t more than a few seconds, but felt like forever) and got to my seat, I had people shaking my hand & telling me their story & how inspired they were by what I shared. I kept thinking “yeah, if they knew the rest of it, they wouldn’t feel that way”. I’ve tried therapy, but can’t get past my fear of failure with research, teaching… life. I’m going to lose my job if I don’t get tenure & I won’t get tenure if I don’t get past this so I can publish. I just ordered your book.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think my book will help, JB. You’ll see that you’re no alone in your fears and that there are ways to heal and grow and find your self-confidence.

  10. Goodbye To Your Impostor Syndrome — Hello To Your Authentic Self | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] And there are good reasons for this. You can find them here. It’s helpful to know the reasons. […]

  11. Beata Avatar

    I saw this website a while ago and decided to explore it further today, and what I discover is a really accurate description of me. Now I’m going to read a bit into “The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Love Your Impostor Syndrome”. Thanks!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m glad you found us, Beata. Welcome!

  12. The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Love Your Impostor Syndrome | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] As you may have heard, ahem, I have written a book that will be released next month, June 2016. I’m noticing just a teensy weensy bit of impostor syndrome. […]

  13. Your Rainforest Mind — The Book — Coming Soon!! | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] As you can imagine, I’m excited and nervous about this and having occasional severe bouts of impostor syndrome! The book’s style is different from the blog but I hope that you’ll find it informative […]

  14. They Say You’re A Know-It-All. Are You? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] isn’t it? When you’re often feeling like an impostor? When you know how much you don’t know? You’re the last one to think that you know it […]

  15. athomasfl Avatar

    I’m a good test taker. I didn’t pass calculus. Math came so easily to me that I didn’t pay attention to theory and when I hit calculus I was lost. I was the other sister. My sister was always studying. I didn’t study and most often did assignments at the last minute. My grades weren’t as good as hers. She got to go to a fancy university. I got told to go to community college. My parents constantly criticized me. If I brought home a report card with all As and 1 B I would get told I needed to work harder. They would say “why can’t you be as good as your sister?” Because I was fing bored.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It can be so hard when there’s pressure and misunderstanding from parents and a sibling who is more compliant. Thanks for the comment!

    2. KtCallista Avatar

      This could be my story too! Well except I went to a public land grant instead of community college.

  16. Being Told That You’re Gifted — Good News And Bad News | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] the other hand, when I tell you that you’re gifted, I can see you […]

  17. The Hazards Of Praise And Too Much Smartness | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] much” smartness. It’s what can happen when we don’t understand how to help our precocious kids navigate through the school system and through […]

  18. ARY Avatar

    How about not feeling like one really fits in, no matter which circle (even among gifted friends). The fear that if people are with me long enough, they will stop liking me? Goes along with clumsiness, figuring out my thought doesn’t fit (or they couldn’t follow it) AFTER it was said, feeling like I’m always needing help and never doing “enough” for people (though not finding help available or wanting to ask for it), being “too sensitive” and “lacking common sense.”

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, all of the above.

  19. Your Child Is Gifted–Let The Worries Begin | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] You have a rainforest mind. You are gifted. […]

  20. The Most Unnecessary Blog | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] What about the ones who don’t know that they’re smart but just think that they’re freaks? What about the ones who grew up in environments that didn’t allow them to flourish? What […]

  21. litebeing Avatar

    Some of this post was painful to read because it brought me back to high school years. I exerted very little effort in school and excelled, except in the sciences. My younger sibling who is also bright, studied her ass off and got even better grades, but boy did she work at it. I figured that things that come so easily don’t really matter. Plus I was always very easily bored. The did not have gifted classes in my school, but they had tracks and kids did often behave according to their track if you know what i mean. My parents had ridiculously high standards and were never satisfied. When I saw my IQ score I realized that I have all this potential but was raised in chaos and that often took center stage. Ironically both myself and my sister became therapists. She in fact followed in my footsteps and went to the same graduate program as I did. Our family required at least 2 therapists, lol! There is so much pressure to achieve when you know that you absorb knowledge so quickly and your mind is so quick and expansive. But young minds need support, nurturing, and guidance.

    Thanks for dedicating yourself to an issue that is probably minimized and deemed less important than the needs of disabled children and adults.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, the pressure to achieve can create paralysis, perfectionism, procrastination, anxiety and depression. And more. Thank you for reading, litebeing, even through the pain.

  22. unnahbar Avatar

    Same here. To me, my achievements never felt special or good or anything, it just happened, why should I have been praised for that?
    No, it’s not great to graduate from (german) highschool two years early, I didn’t even try hard, so why should I be something special?
    Your post just pulled a trigger…
    the worst part is that rationally I know I’m gifted but my heart doesn’t really want to accept that, because I don’t want to be more different than I already am…

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      You raise important points. If your intelligence comes without much effort, how can you take credit for it? And, I understand that desire to fit in or belong. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You may see me write about these in a future post.

  23. me Avatar

    Hello everyone!
    I denied all my life that i am a gifted person. I wanted just to be “normal”. At an early age i refused to start to learn letters cause i dont wanted to be bored at school. I refused to work more that is the homework cause i dont wanted to be accused that my results was cause of my supplementary work. But i was best in my class, in school and everyone tell me that i am so smart … why i am not happy with this. In the last years of primary school i start to intentionally not finish the tests ( i was not capable to do wrong, just not solve some subjects). I excelled in math and i liked math (still love), but not only. I came from a former communist European country and there are encouraged participation in competition (like Olympics games but on science mainly). At a moment i was qualified at math, chemistry, literature and history. My literature teacher ask me to drop the competition to literature and left the place to another person cause i am better to math … i do it but i was devastated … why to not participate … i gained that right in a competition … after another situation when i was deprived from my right gained by competition, i never participate to another competition.
    Was difficult to choose the high school cause means that i must choose what to study more: humanitarian or science. I choose science but with focus on physics and chemistry cause i was thinking that math is not a problem, i can teach by myself if in school is not doing too much. But i liked to read philosophy and discover another field: history of religion. I end up by reading at the age of 15-16 “the Golden borough” by James Frazer and start to read Eliade. I am a fierce reader. Nobody can stop me when i read and i am passionate by the subject. I am completely absorb in my readings (later applied on my work).

    In the end i go to university to study math. I prepared by my own for admittance exams and work supplementary very little. In my first year of faculty i was in same group with the winners of gold at the international olympics in math. I convinced myself that i am a normal person not a special one… they are really special. And also a professor give me an important lesson: that i need to work hard and he ask perfection from me (why from me and not from others?) and not let me to pass his exams till i not reach. And i applied this to all my future work. After this experience in the next years i was in a “normal ‘ group of students, but still not fit in. In the same time i followed (just attend and read about) some courses in economics (applied mathematics in economics) to another university.
    I end up by obtain also a master degree in applied statistics, a PhD in engineering, working in environmental field and having a lot of other interests (literature and history ). And i like to paint (just time to time to relax my brain), just for my pleasure.
    In short, i growing up convinced myself that i am a smart person, with some talents but nothing special. I not won a Nobel prize or Fields medal, i am just a little high than average person. I never perform a IQ test ( in a way i was afraid to do). I strive with impostor syndrome (i discover the name just last week) and try all my life to hide some of my abilities and find always excuses for others (for the fact that are slower – maybe that they have other talents and i am not able to see it, etc). Still ask myself i am really gifted … if is like this, then all my life has a meaning in the end. In the last week after accidentally (or not cause some of the traits of my kid make me to start to find some information) find the terms of gifted adults i am reading and reading on the internet and still ask myself if is true or not. If i asses in terms of probability is very likely to be … but still not fully accept.

    I was asked so many times the question: who do you think you are?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I’m so glad you’re discovering your giftedness. It sounds like it will make a big difference in how you understand yourself and your life. I hope you read the rest of my posts so you can find out more about impostor syndrome and other issues that are typical for gifted adults. You may find that you’re reading about yourself. I’ve seen many people who discover this about themselves because of their children. Thank you for sharing your story.

  24. hno3burns Avatar

    Isn’t it the strangest thing that just yesterday I was telling myself: “You always act like you’re smarter than you are, just wait until everyone finds out the truth.” ? For the record, however, I do gravitate towards people who are more intelligent than myself and it causes a bit of an inferiority complex or feeling that I have to keep up. It’s not always something I can help. Simpler people just don’t interest me.

    1. C A Avatar
      C A

      You mean you know smarter people 🙂 I usually meet simpler people but I am working on it! 🙂

  25. Danny Avatar

    I’m currently entering high school as a freshman, but previously I had gone to a gifted school. I’ve never felt as smart as I should be (part of which is probably because I lack motivation so rarely study and have very little time to even do homework, let alone take extra time to study) anyways I do admit to cheating because of the said lack of studying/not paying attention in class, and to keep my grades up so my parents continue to let me play soccer (I play on an extremeely high level team and occasionally practice with the youth national team for my age group, which is the reason I don’t have any free time, as soccer is all I do). Also everyone is always either telling me that I’m sooooo gifted, that I need to apply myself more, or that I’m not that smart. I know I’m not stupid, and that I’m slightly-above average intelligence. Ok now to my actual point (sorry about going out on a tangent there), I think part of my problem is that it’s hard for me to focus. Now before you classify that as ADD or ADHD, its a definite that I don’t have either. Both my parents dismiss it, whenever I bring it up by just saying ‘you just to work harder and apply yourself more’. Now while that might have some ground on the situation, I don’t think it is even close to the entirety. Ok wow, I just realized none of what I said really has that much to do with this. Sorry but i needed to get this out

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Danny. It sounds like you’re saying the issues are complicated. They often are with people who are gifted. Sometimes a problem with focusing can be ADHD but certainly not always. If you want to read about ADHD to get more information, books by Ed Hallowell are good. Also http://www.additudemag.com. With ADHD, you can be working hard and still not be able to get things done. It sounds like it might help for you to see a counselor so you can sort some of these things out. Thanks for writing!

  26. nivchek Avatar

    To all the commenters: let’s be friends! It is so hard to find people who understand. I am looking for advice for helping my almost-13-year-old son cope with being profoundly gifted, extroverted, bored to death and lonely. We homeschool him to keep him out of the land of millions of chainsaws, but the social isolation is intense because his true “peers” are all at least 2 years older than him, usually more. He is not feeling ready for college yet, but he really could start anytime if he wanted. We aren’t ready to let him mix with that crowd because he is so young, but he looks in every way much older than he is. What real-life, non-virtual outlets have any of you found that help with this challenge? Thanks!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Do you know about the gifted homeschoolers’ forum? http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/blog-hop/ They might be a better place to have conversations that would help you and your son. There are many bloggers there and homeschooling parents. A huge community of gifted souls supporting each other. Also, David at http://unschooledfuture.com is a good resource. And, of course, you can talk here. But I think you’ll be amazed at what’s available via Facebook.

  27. heyladyblogthat Avatar

    I will try so hard not to comment on every single post. But I have always felt dumb. School was easy for me. I got A’s and B’s and I did not study. EVER. But I was always told I was so smart. I graduated at 16, while spending only 3 years in high school. Still I believe(d) I was (am) dumb. Because I did not try. Because it was easy.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Do you see now that there may have been other reasons that you didn’t feel smart? And it sounds like you still don’t?

      1. paulaprober Avatar

        Oh, I hit post before I was finished, heyladyblogthat. I hope that by reading my blog you can understand why people said you were smart but you didn’t (don’t) think so. And you’re most welcome to comment anywhere you like.

  28. Deidre Avatar

    This is me, every.single. one. I worry that my girls are going to face much of this. Already they are showing signs. One of the things that concerns me is the “jack of all trades, master of none” lifestyle I enjoy. I can play just about any instrument, well enough, but not as well as if I’d spent more than a year in training. I try my hand at whatever interests me and as soon as I’ve learned enough to know I can do it, I move on to the next. Both my girls are starting this behavior, I don’t want to be the parent that forces them to take violin, dance, piano etc. when they are ready to try something else, but I also want them to have at least one thing they can enjoy with proficiency. Any suggestions?

    1. nivchek Avatar

      Cubing is something my boys really dig. Brain food. Unschooling is how we educate, and that helps a TON. Get the book “Refuse to Choose” and adapt it to your kids. It’s quite helpful for the likes of us. In it you will learn why “Jack of all trades” is a good thing! Also, growing your food and raising animals sometimes helps add focus and interest to stuff, even if you only do it a little bit. Any chance you live in my neighborhood? We do get lonely. 🙁

      1. paulaprober Avatar

        Thanks for sharing your ideas and joining the discussion.

    2. paulaprober Avatar

      The “jack of all trades” is a common experience for a rainforest mind. It’s called multipotentiality. A great resource on the topic is http://www.puttylike.com. And also Refuse to Choose, as mentioned in the next comment. Consider that it’s OK to have multiple interests and to move on after a certain level of understanding has been grasped. (People with rainforest minds love learning new things.) Perhaps you can try sticking with something yourself to experience proficiency. See what that’s like. Then you might ask your girls to do the same in one particular area while they continue to experiment with many things. What do you think?

      1. paulaprober Avatar

        This reply above is meant for Deidre. For some reason it didn’t show up under the comment.

    3. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Deidre. I’ve written a reply to your comment but it didn’t show up in the right location. Read below the next comment to find your reply!

  29. nivchek Avatar

    Too too true. When there is a lot of mundane (brainless) work to be done, sometimes we just zone out and do that and get so tired that there’s nothing left for the stuff we really love. And then we are less fulfilled. I’m learning to brainstorm while doing the dishes and laundry while keeping my “scanner daybook” close at hand. It’s a pretty nice compromise.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      That sounds like a great way to manage the mundane while keeping the creative fire alive. Thank you for sharing.

  30. Lil_Ladybug Avatar

    It is amazing how this post has hit me, and yet I feel guilty even thinking “maybe”.
    I was in advanced classes but never Identified. I heard things like, “things come so easy you should be thankful”, “you don’t even try and make good grades”, “If you would just practice (music) image how great you could be”. But as the female child in a very dysfunctional family no attention or focus or GUIDANCE was offered to me. Oh how I wish I had had someone interested in my future back in school. I married an abusive man instead of going to college and two children. I left him at the ripe old age of 24. Put myself 2 years of college and received an associates degree. After 2 years I realized I needed a better field to support my kids and too IT certifications. I worked my butt off. BUT still feel like I was hired into the IT field because I was female, because the Co who hired me was having a rough time economically and the good IT personnel didn’t want to work for them. 14 years later I still don’t have my BA and constantly feel like what I DON”T know will be found out and I will lose my senior position. I remarried and had 3 more girls, I have 7 year old daughter ID as gifted at 5. I have been pushing for proper challenges for her at school and we are making no progress. She was at a highly regarded college preparatory school and she still came home saying the work is too easy mom. So now the pressure is not only about me…. she needs proper challenges so she learns how to learn, I need to offer proper guidance and support and most of all she needs to learn the LOVE of learning!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for sharing some of your story. Understanding (and accepting!) your own rainforest mind will help you understand your kids.

  31. marta Avatar

    hello paula, thank you for answering .., so much. we live in austria. and a lot of what is written here in the post’s fits to mee and my daughters too…but sometimes i feel als if i would get maniac…., caus the pain, disriminating feelings and the – to me it feels so inside, how people mostly talk, act….to us an among eachother – “arrogant” manners, sometimes between women a kind of – I don’t know why….?? – jealousy on me…., arrogant means in my sense…that often people want to be much more as they are…and then they use hurting manners to others to feel more and better – but the point is..that they themselves apparently don’t see their own behaviour as discriminating, derespectful but think they are right, even if there…education ist much under your own. …..sometimes I’m in such deep distressing worrying about my daughter, cause she acts like a junkie (without hard drugs…) in dependecies…., to which ohter people lead her…., …so…there are days..,I’m fo afraid, how long will bear this kind of life….
    thank you…heartgreat to you and all, marta

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Oh Marta. It sounds like you’re having such a hard time. I hope that you can find ways to look for other parents of gifted kids. Are there organizations in Austria like the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) in the US? Or parents at your local schools? It could help if you could find other adults with rainforest minds. One way to do that is to get involved in activities that you enjoy and look for people there who share your traits: sensitivity, empathy, intuition, etc. Then ask them to join you for coffee/tea and get to know them. And if your daughter is really having a hard time, maybe some family therapy could help you help her. Those are a few ideas, Marta. I hope they help. Thank you for writing and take care.

  32. marta Avatar

    dear paula and hy to all of you here an hello to overexitable…: yo CAN’T loose giftedness – no one can take it away from you….- it’s allover in you an belong’s to you – just like the colour of our hair or eyes an skin – you can’t take it off like our clothes….- and finally society is making the strane stres …most gifted people are peaceful…..it’s the other way round…, i think. I know some of these mensa testings and me too i thought, that I’m much to stupid, cause my testing also was much under ….but there are some other, much more holistic testing ways, for example the – please excuse …but I don’t know the english expression for this: “Berliner Intelligenzstruktur-test”…if you would like to try again a testing……My two daughter’s are highly gifted too…..and last year in autumn me too wanted to give homeschooling to her , after a lot of painful and frustrating schoollyears…..then unfortunately i was betoken by the school authority and now in the age of thirteen she had to bear up nearly this whole years in class 2 years lower her age and normal school class, just cause the last second school before gave her before three times insufficant in maths – now she will get the fith’ one! ….in our country home schooling ist legally allowed, you have to take an examination for every year…in the last weeks she told me,..that she doesn’t want ot go to school anymore……it’s a littel holocaust every day in school…..- she has no weakeness in math…but in the last years allt the teachers around her always told her…she isn’t able for math….now she geht’s in scuh an great emotional and mental stress..evene if someone just talks to her about math…that she can’ t put together 1+1…..but when she was ….8, 9 10…she told her teacher every day…what she would like to learn.., they didn’t gave her the possibility……we had a lot of tears….and my strenghth os nearly over….., in this weeks we loose our flat the third time…cause of her reactions…her boredom 24 hours a day…., and her matbolism HPU……it’s not about payments…but the society around us….don’t whish “anitsocial” – (gifted) people around…..there’s much more to say…., and excuse for this long writing and unperfect english…..,— the list above makes me a little bit…confuse while reading, but some of the points fit to me….., we are just too, my younger daughter and me…, no protection…, high sensitive and gifted.. – thank you paula ! (i just saw your post right today evening…i was at work for a few days), greetings by heart, marta

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Marta! Nice to hear from you. Your English is just fine. The whole schooling question is hard on so many parents. (Not just in the US, eh? Where do you live?) And thanks for reminding us that you can’t lose your giftedness!

  33. lauralynnwalsh Avatar

    Add me to the “me, too” list. Add to this a personal failure: my “less gifted” siblings are all more successful than I ever was. And another personal failure: I am either over- or under- qualified for any jobs that may be available.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Lauralynn. The question of ‘what is success’ is an important one and one I hope to address in future posts. What I’ve found is that gifted adults aren’t always high achievers, particularly in the traditional sense. The sensitivities, divergent thinking, perfectionism and other traits can make it hard to function in the regular world. And finding the right job/career can be complicated. There’s a webinar at http://www.sengifted.org on careers that I recorded that you (and other commenters) might find helpful. I describe the particular challenges rainforest-minded adults face in the working world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  34. overexcitable Avatar

    All of them, but the praise and college drop out, are scarily familiar.

    Now that I’m the mother, I’m most definitely not gifted anymore! After all, the test scores are now (only just) under Mensa-level, so I don’t belong anywhere, and I’ve completely failed to become successful in any field. Woohoo!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Dear overexcitable. I’m sure you know that test scores are only one way to identify intelligence. (and they aren’t always valid, either) I haven’t known anyone who became ungifted! And what if you considered that being a loving compassionate dependable mother is being successful in a field (a very important one at that). I appreciate hearing your concerns.

  35. C A Avatar
    C A

    You just talked about me…in the most profound of ways…I am coming into my own after what feels like a lifetime of this sh*t and wow you nailed it exactly…but the question becomes what do we do now?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, what do we do now? I’ve got some resources listed in other posts including Jacobsen’s book The Gifted Adult. That might be a good place to start. There’s also a great online resource at http://www.sengifted.org. (lots of good articles and webinars) They hold a conference every year about gifted children and adults. This year it’s in San Jose. (I’ll be presenting!) If you want to meet other gifted folks, consider attending. My next post will likely be the “what to do” response to this one. Coming soon-ish! Thanks for writing. Stay in touch.

      1. C A Avatar
        C A

        Thank you so much for your reply…I will look into those resources 🙂 I guess for me the challenge is the agony I feel after so much degradation and cruelty and denial of my unique and wonderful abilities by my family of origin and people in my life and being used as a commodity for their well being and not my own…way painful But know now why I can do things easier and why I more able! So that is good! And that I can use my gifts and abilities for me now! 🙂

        1. paulaprober Avatar

          Another idea for anyone with family of origin abuse, trauma, neglect, and other dysfunctions would be psychotherapy. You’d want to find a counselor who understands giftedness or is willing to learn. The website http://www.sengifted.org is compiling a list of counseling professionals who have taken their courses so have an interest in giftedness. That could be a place to start to look for someone. Word of mouth is always a good way, too. (And FYI, I’m writing a book on gifted adults and teens…so if you know a good publisher out there, call me!) 🙂

    2. J. Spears Avatar
      J. Spears

      C A, also check out a book called “Why Smart People Hurt” by Eric Maisel. I am buying it for myself for my birthday in a couple of weeks, so I haven’t read it yet, but I hear its really good.

      1. C A Avatar
        C A

        Thank you J. I have the book and have read the 1st chapter…way good…I will say that Eric talks about us looking after ourselves and using our powerful and good abilities for us instead of everybody else, because we are good at stuff right? Hope you enjoy the book…and for everybody who loves iBooks as much a me it comes as an iBook as well! 🙂

  36. J. Spears Avatar
    J. Spears

    Does it fit me? Too well. I just received my first AA degree at the age of 42, and I spent the last two years trying to convince myself that the reason I graduated with a 4.0 GPA could not possibly have anything to do with being gifted. I ignored the fact that I procrastinated until the last minute, never studied for more than ten minutes for an exam, and wrote what I considered to be the sloppiest, most incoherent essays of all time, yet still made A’s. At first, I tried to convince myself that it was because I was older and therefore, more focused and engaged that the younger students. Then, I met two other women close to my age who lamented that they found college to be more challenging than they had expected. That shot my conclusion out of the water, so I came up with new ones:
    The teachers just really liked me.
    The teachers were easy graders.
    College curriculum must have been dumbed down in the last two decades.
    I was just lucky.

    As I entered the college’s gymnasium on graduation day, I fully expected to see dozens of students stand up to receive recognition for graduating summa cum laude. What I did not expect was having my name called out by the college president to be recognized for maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Later, I watched the video of the ceremony and counted the number of names that were called. It totaled 10.

    10 out of 1100+ graduating students. Just 10. And I was one of them.

    I still have trouble wrapping my mind around it, even though I’ve spent the last year reading and processing what it means to be gifted, and trying to embrace it and make it work for me. Learning that my sensitivities and intensity are NORMAL for me, and not some pathology that needed to be treated or cured, released me from decades of depression. I can no longer say that I do not know who I am, because I finally have an idea that actually fits and makes sense.

    Now, if only I could figure out which of the dozen topics roaming through my head I want to write about first on my blog, and then actually write it without spending an entire day perfecting it as I go along……..

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      I’m so glad your understanding of your giftedness has relieved your depression. I’ve heard that from others as well. Yes, and dozens of topics? all day perfecting? Yep! Rainforest mind. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Joanna Avatar

    I knew growing up that I was generally smarter than other kids because my mum told me – and expected perfect grades, because I was capable. It’s come in handy as with fibromyalgia even at 50% capacity, I can still get by. So that’s a blessing (although now I wonder if I just found a way too dumb myself down).
    Both my kids are gifted. My son seems to be doing fine. My daughter gets bored easily and had a hard time if things don’t come to her instantly. So I relate to a lot of what you wrote. Keep writing! 🙂

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for your encouragement, Joanna! I’m glad my ideas are helping.

  38. JS Avatar

    Nice post. I found myself in several of the situations. And yes, I used all of the excuses listed. I could really relate.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for your comment, JS.

  39. KtCallista Avatar


    I too spent years convinced that I could not possibly be related to my mother, that I must have been switched at birth. I adored my father, but I never fit in with my family – or extended family. Even know it is a bit trying to share their humor, waiting for them to be able to do things that come easily to me, etc. I even sought counseling help in high school to deal with the disconnect I felt between myself and my family. It manifested in many physical symptoms that caused me problems. I never realized other people felt that way, too.

    My best friend growing up was a genius, a real one. Everything was easy and he knew so much. I still miss him, he committed suicide 13 years ago. I never felt I was all that smart, because he was so much smarter. Now though, I do struggle with how long it takes other people to catch on to things I find as easy, or their inability to learn something quickly when I can. I don’t think of my ability to learn new things as unique. In fact if anything takes me longer than a couple days to get a good foundations in the basics of it, I usually get bored and move on because I never learned to work at anything for longer than that growing up. Maybe that could be added to the list?

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, you’re bringing up many important points. We can all find someone smarter, someone who is the real “genius.” I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. (suicide and giftedness is another important topic) There is certainly a kind of continuum of giftedness and a great diversity in how it manifests itself. That’s what’s so tricky. It’s not an easy thing to define or simplify. But if you find yourself having those experiences, like waiting for others to catch up, or you have the traits, like high sensitivity, those are clues that you, too, have a rainforest mind. I would definitely add your idea to the list and will write about how gifted folks who aren’t intellectually challenged early in life, struggle later to know how to study, how to work at something, how to cope with “failure.” Thank you!

  40. paulaprober Avatar

    Yes. It’s hard to go against societal expectations and pressures. And yet, it sounds like you certainly are as you unschool your son. I just started reading your blog. You offer some great resources to parents who are homeschooling and unschooling their children. Thank you.

  41. David Avatar

    This strikes so many chords for me. Both my wife and I are gifted. Our son is also highly gifted in almost all areas and my wife cried for days when we got the results, denied the results to friends and family and even now years later refuses to talk about it.
    She can think of nothing worse for him than not being normal. I can think of nothing worse for him than being normal.
    Both of us struggle with our own giftedness in different ways also. My wife has largely attached her self-worth to achieving perfect academic success across multiple degrees and higher degrees – she gets depressed for days at any score below 100%, no matter where or what she is studying.
    Three quarters of the items above apply to me. I decided early on that I was interested in business and formed my first company at eighteen, little did I suspect that that was the era of kids in garages in the U.S. becoming billionaires from good ideas (or even not good ideas). No one in Australia, a market of less than 20mil people when I started out could ever, or has ever, achieved anything like that, but that set the bar of success – anything below that level of success is abject failure, at least to me. Despite being successful in multiple businesses I ‘know’ with absolutely certainty that despite what everyone else tells me I am a failure because I have yet to make my first billion (and if I did, would still be a failure as others have made far more). After all, if I was really smart then I should be able to succeed easily at anything that I turn my hand to.
    I know that so many people think that it is ridiculous for gifted people to complain, but I do feel that the school system should have helped us to manage this, or at least minimized the damage that they did to us. At least we have taken our son out of the system and are letting him explore what he wants – but I know that many of the above apply to him also already.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thank you David. I appreciate what you’re saying here. It’s why I’m blogging. Gifted people need help understanding their complexities and the many challenges they run up against. It’s not complaining. It’s complicated! You’ve given me ideas for future posts. Hm. What is success? What is failure? Hm…

      1. David Avatar

        Thanks. We are strongly trying to emphasize to our son that success is simply being happy with your life – but, as we all know, society, movies,, TV, magazines, school all largely (if not completely) devalue happiness as a measure and focus on material success, prestige, adulation, test scores, body image etc. instead – it is very difficult to work out what brings true personal happiness, versus the (somewhat superficial) satisfaction that comes from meeting societal expectations.

  42. Celestina Avatar

    • You grew up in a seriously dysfunctional family so your perception about who you really are is quite distorted.
    This one, as well as many others, apply to me, but I never really thought that this could have contributed to my imposter syndrome before. I have vivid memories of searching for my ‘real’ birth certificate when the house was empty because I was so convinced I had to be adopted. I had absolutely nothing in common with everyone else in my family. I was the cuckoo in the nest. I try to use logic to over-rule that voice in my head that tells me I’m not really as great as everyone else thinks I am, but it’s a constant struggle.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Yes, Celestina, in a dysfunctional family the child’s self-perceptions are influenced by so many factors. If you don’t fit in, if you’re labeled the “cuckoo,” when you’re young, you believe that something’s terribly wrong with you. Logic is a great tool to use. I’ll share others in a future post. Thanks!

  43. Annie Avatar

    spot on. as my gifted son gets older I see how alike we are. It is hard for us to communicate sometimes because of it. we are both very sensitive. the grades came easily to me. They do to him now too (he’s 11). But I don’t remember anything I learned. I have memory issues. the emotions ran high and low for me – still do – do for my son too. But no one cared so much about that. At least not enough to acknowledge it. I’m not sure how to work with it for him now. I downplayed the grades, thought it was expected. Continued to do what was expected…until I didn’t. And started caring about my own happiness on my terms. feel detached from the family of origin though. Trying to encourage my son’s interest in being creative….I was given opportunities and encouraged to be creative but it never stuck. Music, art…..I still never felt I was supposed to do those things. Never felt a passion toward one thing. ended up being mediocre at everything. I only want to be the best mom I can be and encourage my son to be what/who he wants to be.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Hi Annie. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Your son is a lucky guy!

    2. billy Avatar

      I think i can identify with what you are saying
      . I am somewhT in the mediocre boat with kids of my own . Now, here, Ive read giftedness which i had no prob testing into multiple times makes a vulnerable population. Well there i am. Its interesting to me that a few paid counselors never said anything about this. Permanent third rail or fifth wheel or sideline population.

  44. KtCallista Avatar

    The more I read about giftedness (because I’m fairly sure my daughters are gifted, even though their school doesn’t test for it), the more I understand my own childhood. I still feel like a fraud if I even think of picking up the mantel. After all, I never had an expert tell me that, it’s a self diagnosis and I’m not really qualified to make that call. I will say that being able to skate through and get A’s with no effort was disastrous when I went to college. Even now I really struggle with so much.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Understanding yourself and your likely giftedness will benefit your daughters. I think you ARE qualified to make the call! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  45. mzrad Avatar

    Growing up with three jealous older sisters (and a passive but kind older brother) led me to not recognize for many years the uniqueness of my intellectual gifts and the value of my sensitivity—we had to pretend everyone was exactly the same. Excellent counseling and finding online support networks of smart, thoughtful, and non-bitchy women (at least toward me!) has been very helpful. I’m also realizing that I’m probably the only growth brain in my family of fixed brains, which explains a lot, too.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Thanks for these ideas. I will include them in the post about how to deal with impostor syndrome. Your reference to “growth brain” and “fixed brains” is from Carol Dweck’s work Mindset, yes? A great resource.

      1. esterobayradio Avatar

  46. Muriel Avatar

    Ah, the impostor syndrome – I’ve been plagued by it my whole life. “You’re so smart, so mature, so intelligent…. blah, blah, blah” Every time I hear this, the thought that pops in my head is: How did I fool them like this? What have I done to make them think I’m so smart???
    Every one of your posts feels like it was written just for me – thank you!

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Ah, ha! So that must mean that you ARE gifted…:) Thanks for your comment, Muriel.

  47. Melyssa Stone Avatar
    Melyssa Stone

    My g 9yo son told me yesterday that he went from AB work to DF to fit in because he was tired of being picked on by the other kids. I am a singer-songwriter with a catalog of over 300 titles but don’t consider myself legit… I’ve always felt like a fraud…this post is dead-on.

    1. paulaprober Avatar

      Oh, Melyssa. Give your son a hug for me. I hope my posts will help. Thanks for writing.

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