I Can’t Show How Smart I Am To Anyone, Not Even To Myself

photo by David Evers, Flickr, CC
photo by David Evers, Flickr, CC

You hide. You stay small. You “dumb down.”


Because– (Pick one or more.)

1. It’s not cool to be too smart.

2. Other people will feel bad about themselves.

3. I’ll be lonely.

4. I’ll be ridiculed.

5. I’ll take up too much space.

6. I’ll overshadow others.

7. I’ll become egocentric, arrogant and self-absorbed.

8. My mother was brilliant and she was also abusive. I can’t be like her.

9. It feels dangerous.

10. I’ll outshine my parents and my teachers and I can’t do that.

11. I don’t want to be like my father who used his intellect to be manipulative.

12. I don’t have the time. I have kids to raise.

13. I won’t be able to sustain it and then I’ll disappoint everyone.

14. It’s way too much pressure.

15. I’ll embarrass myself.

16. If I reveal myself and then I fail, it would be devastating.

17. I’m not the smart one.

18. Change is scary and I’m comfortable in my discomfort.

19. I’m used to my habits and routines. Why rock the boat?

20. Did I mention that I’m not really all that smart?

OK, then.

Here’s the thing.

The world needs you to stop hiding.

I mean it.

Now, I don’t want you to do anything that feels too unsafe. But I do want you to realize that all beings will benefit if you express yourself and show us what you’ve got; if you tap that wellspring of intellect, creativity and sensitivity. Your children and grandchildren (and your neighbors’ children and grandchildren) will reap the benefits.


I can help.

It’s my job.

I’ll help you with your fears around pressure and expectations and your anxiety around failure. (More in future posts.)

You can come here when you feel lonely.

Now that you know what a rainforest mind looks like, get serious about finding other inquisitive souls. They will support you when you feel misunderstood and hurt.

Psychotherapy provides guidance that can shift and heal patterns and beliefs so that you don’t turn into your mother or your father.

Reading about sensitivity and how to manage it, will give you tools that you’ll need so you aren’t as easily overwhelmed.

What else?

photo by Adam Knight, Flickr, cc
photo by Adam Knight, Flickr, cc

Get yourself out into Nature where you can connect with a spirituality that will support you and guide you. Find your own form of meditation, whether it’s sitting or yoga or writing or painting or poetry or gardening or dancing or running or whatever. Use it to plumb your depths and calm your nervous system.

Then show yourself. To yourself. And to the rest of us.

We’re ready for you.


To my blogEEs: Many thanks to the commenter who inspired this post. And to all of you– for reading, for sharing, and for staying sensitive. Tell us your fears and share your plans for coming out of hiding.

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.

62 responses to “I Can’t Show How Smart I Am To Anyone, Not Even To Myself”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. The Loneliness Of The Highly Gifted | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] yet, this is such a tricky topic. Who is going to commiserate with you? Who can you talk with about this struggle? I am not even […]

  2. Sindhu Avatar

    I sometimes feel I am not smart like others, either at work or in the family. I feel sad and down.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Keep reading the blog, Sindhu. It might help to see that you’re not alone.

  3. Mercedes Campos Avatar
    Mercedes Campos

    Are they really ready? Am I?

  4. 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. […]

  5. S Avatar

    Who will protect us Paula? No one.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I understand if it doesn’t feel safe. In some cases, it makes sense to hide and just show yourself to yourself. Maybe this from the post will help? “Get yourself out into Nature where you can connect with a spirituality that will support you and guide you.” It’s important to take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        S. I don’t mean hide forever! Just until it feels safe. <3

      2.  Avatar

        I do not feel the need to hide. I have always believed that I was of equal value as everyone else. Apparently this makes other people feel threatened.

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          I think that’s what makes it hard for people to show themselves. Sadly, they may feel guilty when others feel threatened or they may be treated poorly by those others.

          1.  Avatar

            I’ve given up on the idea of people not feeling threatened. I can walk in the door and they will feel threatened even though I make the effort to be non-threatening and friendly, look/act like the group, etc. etc. (Picture a zebra trying to blend in with a herd of horses)

            But as far as being treated poorly, this is certainly a challenge. Mobbing is definitely a problem– especially in the age of social media and technology.

            In the meantime I try to show human decency as a matter of standard practice, and hope that eventually others will catch on.

            Leadership plays an important role here, as most people operate on the basis of hierarchy (spoken/ unspoken). Apathy and abuse of power in leadership are the causes of most suffering in the world, as people look to their leaders to prescribe action/inaction.

            If you are a leader out there, consider the following:

            Machiavelli was wrong. It is not better to be feared than loved.
            People are afraid of me all the time. And it is not better than being loved. It is not even better than being considered neutral.

            1. Paula Prober Avatar
              Paula Prober

              Sending you love. <3

  6. A Path Through Your Post-Election Paralysis | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] heard me talk about this before. Here and here. How do you “show your soul?” What’s your purpose here? What’s your way of […]

  7. Izumi Texidor-Hirai Avatar
    Izumi Texidor-Hirai

    For me, it was number 2 – I make people feel bad about themselves – and 13 – I will disappoint everyone.
    After talking to Paula for only 1 hour a few months ago, I feel like I am “coming out of the closet”. I feel liberated, and exhilarated, and also a bit scared.
    Thank you Paula for the work you do. You have changed my life 🙂
    Izumi, from Kyoto.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      So glad to hear that you’re “coming out” Izumi. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Erin Avatar

    I really, really agree with this post. It feels like Life is a play on a stage, and I was the only one who didn’t get a script. I’m just doing improv the whole time. Every once in a while, I laugh at the absurdity of a particularly “serious” scene, but nobody seems to think it’s funny. And I’m like, “Really? You’re serious. You think this is all real?” And they’re furious with me, saying, “SSSHHH!! You’re not following your lines!! And stop looking at the camera, idiot!” Yeah. That’s my life. Ugh.

    I don’t like letting it all hang out there because it makes others sooo uncomfortable…and it just feels rude and intrusive. I play dumb when I know better, I laugh when I feel like crying, I resign myself to agreeing, saying, “Yup, you’re right, you’re absolutely right. You totally won that argument.” just to shut people up, so I won’t have to suffer the agony of having to try to explain something they are seemingly incapable of grasping. I pretend to not know the real reasons that people behave the way they do, when I actually do understand. It’s sort of like having x-ray vision and you feel really awkward walking around all these naked people who have no idea you can see exactly who and what they are, and their facades aren’t fooling you. It feels almost intrusive.

    Then again, I’m terrified to take an updated IQ test. I’ve been told all my life that I’m “smart”, so much so that I identify with it. If I take an IQ test and “fail” (not qualify as gifted anymore), and I’m no longer “smart”, what, then, am I? I know, I know, it’s not about the number. I’m just saying, for me, the number has become too important. I have big, fat, delicate ego.

    Another problem: people thinking that you’re a narcissistic megalomaniac for saying that you’re gifted. They are REALLY put out by it! And they take every opportunity to put me in my place, thinking I’ve got some high horse I need to be knocked off of. It’s nothing like that. Sure, I’m able to do some things easier or better, but where I excel in one area, I am all but crippled in another. I think they probably didn’t have the definitions for it back in the early 80’s, when I was identified as gifted, but I probably have a dual exceptionality. My math abilities are ABYSMAL. Do you know how far you get in this world when you suck at math? Any “real” job (the type of job, while in your formative years, that the nay-sayers didn’t tell you was ridiculous to aim for) that pays worth a damn requires math – because the world runs on numbers. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I took a year off after high school, trying to figure it out. I ended up married with a baby by next September. Moral of the story: if you don’t pick something, like will make your choices for you. This means I have only managed a 9-month college level program in dental assisting. That is the extent of my education. I got 98% in that and scared my teachers and classmates (who actually asked why I didn’t just skip dental assisting and go straight into dentistry?). The real irony? I work at a university. I get free tuition. I have worked here since 2004, and have not taken a single university course. Why? Because I still don’t know what to pour my considerable energies into. *sigh*

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us, Erin. I’m sure many readers will relate. You give us a lot to think about. Here, yes, you can say that you’re gifted.

  9. Genealogy Jen Avatar
    Genealogy Jen

    I’ve been contemplating how facing My 40 fears has helped me with Becoming. (It’s my word this year. ) As I align my outward self with my inner self, I’ve felt more calm and a greater sense of purpose.
    My friend nicknamed me 100% Jen, because I hyper focus on something with 100% of my attention. It can usually only be one thing, and the rest of everything else may (usually does) fall apart.

    I’m ok with that now though. It may mean my house is never clean, or I forget to do things because I’m wrapped up in a project. I’ll take moments of brilliance over normalcy. I’m not normal. That’s what’s great about me. I’m extraordinary. 100% Jen.

    Today was great, and I am feeling on fire, because I’ve remembered that everything is awesome. The tricky part for me is remembering when I am feeling unloved, unheard and misunderstood that my voice is important.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for sharing your voice with us, 100% Jen!

  10. sternsmk Avatar

    Yes — this is SO right on. What I find remarkably unique about this are the comments you mention about the mother and father. Wow. That is so poignant and IS part of what I feel. I’ve read several books and websites on gifted adults and that is the first time I have seen the parents aspect mentioned. I sure wish I lived out in Oregon. There seem to be so many great resources for gifted folks out there. I have a Masters but am considering going back to school to be a counselor for gifted adults. I can’t find one locally anywhere and my talents are in these areas. I just didn’t know it so many years ago when I was in college. I’m looking for all kinds of reasons why I “can’t” or “shouldn’t” go back for another degree – but posts like this one really nudge me in that direction.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Glad you’re feeling nudged, sternsmk. Trust yourself!

  11. Ed Avatar

    Sorry to rain on your rainforest, but I have to disagree with this particular post. I was 50 years old before I came to realize why I never fit anywhere – I AM GIFTED! It was such an awesome revelation to me. This revelation came after reading Dr. Mary Elaine Jacobsen’s “Gifted Adult” book. I started telling everybody. To me it was like saying “I’m short” (which I am), I was simply pointing out a physical difference.

    However in telling the world, I ran into extreme animosity from everybody. I was told by family members, friends, bosses, and my psychiatrist that I needed to stop telling people that I’m gifted (notice that I didn’t post my IQ even on this anonymous site). Telling people that I’m gifted threatens people.

    I have learned that if I want to have ANY attempt at a social life, I need to hide who I am. This is a requirement. It doesn’t mean that I can’t have empathy for those around me, and it doesn’t mean that I can’t exercise my gifts, but it does mean that I need to hide my true self as much as possible.

    “Normal” people think that it’s a wonderful life to be gifted – Hollywood perpetuates this myth. But the fact is that being gifted is H**L – I would gladly trade my left leg to be normal. The intensities that accompany genius are difficult. (How do we get this message to the world?)

    I liken this intensity as to having a nuclear power plant in my chest. When I can stay positive and channel the energy properly, my energy can light up an entire community. But when that energy goes negative and gets out of hand, I can devastate an entire city. There are days that my intensity threatens to rip my life from its very foundations, (I find that if I keep my giftedness hidden, then the devastation is better contained when I go negative).

    The fact is that “Normal” people turn green with envy when they learn of my IQ. People look down at me as if I’m less than them for some reason.

    “Normal” IQ is 100. So if a person has an IQ of 50 points below normal, our society has compassion on this person. This person does not have normal emotional tools – he may have emotional outbursts, etc. Society has grace for this guy. But if a person has an IQ of 50 points ABOVE normal, then that person is ostracized and bullied. If you don’t believe me, read what people had to say about Edison or Steve Jobs. But Just like the guy sacking your groceries, we are 50 points different than normal – WE DON’T HAVE THE EMOTIONAL TOOLS TO BE NORMAL!

    So I have to do my best to hide who I am. I keep my intensity carefully guarded.

    Every time I begin a new relationship, I have to weigh how much to reveal of myself.

    I have learned that it’s okay to say that I’m “intense.” But I can never never never never never never never tell anybody that I’m gifted. If I say that I’m intense they will either look down their nose at me, or have compassion for me. But at least they don’t feel threatened.

    Being gifted is a delicate dance of revealing oneself to satisfy the “need to be known” versus the knowledge that if I reveal too much of myself, I will be rejected.

    My solution to this is to reveal different parts of myself to different people. My neighbor knows me as a hard-working wood-worker/artist. The people at work know me as the “I.T. guy” and the scientist. The people at church know me as a kind listener and awesome bass player, my novelist group knows me as the guy who can turn a poetic phrase. But nobody but my wife sees the whole me. After receiving rejection over and over and over, it’s wisdom that takes me down this lonely path.

    So if you mean, “Use your gifts” then I’m okay with that. But if you mean to let people know you’re gifted, then I have to say that this post is wrong.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Ed. You’re welcome to disagree (to “rain on the rain forest!”). That said, if you reread the post, I think you’ll see that I’m not saying that you should tell people that you’re gifted, specifically. What I’m saying is “use your gifts” or “find ways to safely be yourself” or “find people who are also gifted.” You can do all that without using the word “gifted” or without hiding yourself in a way that is self-rejecting. I think if you read more posts, you’ll get that I understand how hard it is to be a gifted person and that my purpose is to provide support and a place where you can express yourself. I’m betting that other readers have had similar experiences to yours. Your solution, to reveal different parts to different people can be a good one, especially if there’s at least one person with whom you can show it all. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    2. KtCallsita Avatar

      I’ll jump in! First I want to say I love your analogy:
      ‘I liken this intensity as to having a nuclear power plant in my chest. When I can stay positive and channel the energy properly, my energy can light up an entire community. But when that energy goes negative and gets out of hand, I can devastate an entire city. There are days that my intensity threatens to rip my life from its very foundations, (I find that if I keep my giftedness hidden, then the devastation is better contained when I go negative).’

      I may use that some time to describe what it’s like to be this way. Next I want to say I too only show part of me to many people. I used to really think this was a bad thing, that I’m not being honest about who I am. I tend to be a mimic – I am what is expected in that situation. However, thanks to your sharing, I guess I’ll try to be easier on myself. Be a writer with my writing friends, passionate about robotics with my robotics friends, a cosplayer with my cosplay friends, etc. Then just try to remember that offering myself in part is not fake, or a lie, but just a digestible version of me.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        It’s not fake to just share certain parts of yourself with people depending on who they are and what they can handle. An important point. Thanks for jumping in, KtCallsita!

  12. Mark V Avatar
    Mark V

    I have been thinking about about this post for awhile and initially did not post a comment because I did not want to add a negative perspective. But there is something inside that is telling me it is important to share. My apologies in advance for this being rather lengthy.

    I agree we need to show ourselves. The world needs to hear from those who perceive it differently. I do think my point of view is different — it is even literally different due to color blindness which naturally affects some of the art I make — but more so because of my creativity, independence, and commitment to expanding perspectives, both mine and that of others.

    I am doing my best to have the courage to show myself to the world and share my unique perspective. But to be honest that is extremely difficult because many people terrify me. Not just the violent or aggressive people, but anyone who is intolerant — and that happens to be MANY people, and they do pose a genuine threat, which I will get to in a moment.

    For years I blamed myself for being afraid of people. After all I wasn’t always that way, I was an energetic, curious youngster not afraid to speak up, ask questions, be loud, romp around and generally act in ways that weren’t always “normal” or approved of. I didn’t care what people thought of me but that eventually changed throughout childhood. By the time I was in high school I had full blown social anxiety disorder.

    Whenever I became anxious the old platitude “just relax and be yourself” never seemed to be of any help. “Why is it so hard for me to just be myself?” I would wonder, as if I was cross-examining myself regarding the crimes of my failure to use my gifts to become a relaxed, confident man.

    I often see a version of this: “You just need to find the right group of people to value and support your unique personality”.

    I tried that. Many times. I joined gifted communities and support groups. Spiritual groups. Artist’s collectives, volunteer organizations….anywhere unusual people who care a lot get together for mutual support. But I always ended up quitting because even among the eccentric or gifted, support can be suddenly cut off from those who do not stick to the party line.

    Shortly before the last time I quit, someone said to me: “It takes a lot to be an outsider in a group of outliers, but even gifteds have a limited tolerance for divergent thinking, which has made me very sad – being one of the emotionally homeless of the world”. (Thank you for that in case you are reading this, I will always remember it. Sorry to bail out and leave you there alone. I hope you found your emotional home).

    I learned giftedness does not always mean open-mindedness. Not that feeling alone among a group of judgmental a**holes is particularly traumatic anymore — you get used to it to an extent and sometimes can use surviving it as a source of strength and pride — but there is a definite handicap to being a breaker of rules written and unwritten, and that is that the practical matters of survival can become very difficult.

    I recently came across this article and it totally resonates with me, the following quote in particular: “Many people with severe anxiety and/or depression are also anti-authoritarians. Often a major pain of their lives that fuels their anxiety and/or depression is fear that their contempt for illegitimate authorities will cause them to be financially and socially marginalized; but they fear that compliance with such illegitimate authorities will cause them existential death.” (from http://brucelevine.net/why-anti-authoritarians-are-diagnosed-as-mentally-ill-and-how-this-helps-america%E2%80%99s-illegitimate-authorities-stay-in-charge/)

    I am definitely an anti-authoritarian. Not just when it comes to “official” authorities, but I often resist the assumed authority of the group as well. Even among groups of self-identifying rebels, inclusion is often dependent on the individual’s willingness to be subservient to the group’s rules, no matter how vague they may be. Point out the emperor has no clothes and you risk being punished, banished or worse. Oftentimes merely being innovative is grounds for banishment, because innovations by their nature challenge the status quo and threaten to replace it, the hierarchical structure or the group harmony/hegemony.

    So I go it alone for the most part, and I do struggle to get by. I cannot afford a qualified psychotherapist and I have enough experience with the unqualified sort to believe they can do more harm than good. While all of that is not stopping me from trying to say what I have to say — and there is much that might really upset some people, perhaps even enough to wish me harm — I do feel I have to be careful and not just stand up yelling “look at me!”

    Anonymity and privacy have become very important to me, especially in these times when it seems the screws are being tightened on free thinkers. I am by no means attempting revolution or anything like that, (and I am willing to accept that there is a possibility that I may be more paranoid than is warranted, though I have already experienced some backlash), I am merely an artist wishing to show that there is more than one way to live and to treat others. But if I do my job well, then there is a chance that simple message may be very threatening to some, and ultimately dangerous to me. History is proof enough of that, and I have no doubt my poverty is negatively affecting my health. So my art is often released anonymously, or pure meaning (and my identity) is disguised using satire, metaphor and other methods, otherwise I might not have the courage to release any.

    If I had to pick one thing about people that perplexes, frustrates and fascinates me, it would be that so many of them would rather destroy another human being for merely having an alternate world view than face the possibility that their own world view may not be as superior as they want to believe it is, or will passively do nothing while another human being is being destroyed for the same reason. If evil truly exists, surely that is a major way it manifests itself in the world so it is one of the things I have dedicated myself to understanding and hopefully being part of the solution somehow.

    Thanks for reading and indulging me. -Mark V (not my real name of course.) 😉

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you for writing, Mark V, and for your sensitivity. I hope that you find a way that works for you where you become part of the solution.

    2. Ninsidhe Avatar

      You appear to have the same profound allergy to heteronomy and the Wetiko empire as I do- I write about it from time to time, what I’m doing about that and what I see the remedy as being. I so resonate with everything that you have written here and the article you linked to is awesome. I too feel that I have to be very, very careful in what I do, which has put a stranglehold in the past on what I thought I *could* put out into the world- it’s not our imagination, the dominant culture *is* absolutely dangerous. I have the scars to prove it. I also have discovered ways to subvert their attention and move more freely in the miasm.

      1. Mark V Avatar
        Mark V

        Thank you for your comment! “Profound allergy to heteronomy and the Wetiko empire”. That’s a great way to put it.

        Speaking of the dominant culture, revisiting this post somehow reminded me of a Robin Williams appearance on Oprah’s talk show years ago — IIRC it was her first time meeting him. As usual, Williams was a hyperactive blur of stream-of-consciousness antics. While Oprah seemed delighted, she was also obviously bewildered by how any person could be so bizarre.

        Because Oprah wields a great deal of influence in our culture, it upset me that she did not react to Williams as someone whose gifted talents and behavior were simply beyond her own ability to comprehend, but instead she couldn’t help but make him out to be some kind of alien (no pun intended) that she could not relate to. She was likely as dumbfounded by Williams’ suicide as she was by his behavior on her tv show.

        I assume Oprah is genuinely a nice person and means well, but I also believe she is responsible in large part for spreading the simplistic narrative that the main barriers to achieving success, peace, and happiness in this world lay primarily within ourselves.

        It’s not that I don’t believe we are all capable of transformation of ourselves and the rest of the world and that it is our responsibility to attempt to do so. But I think any narrative that avoids the harsh reality that some people – including many of the most gifted, talented, sensitive and spiritual people among us – may be more susceptible to being negatively affected by the world (and perhaps purposely so by forces that we do not yet understand) is doing a disservice to some, and may be missing a huge opportunity to help enable true transformation on the planet.

        Anyway… aside from my rant, I too have read Jack Forbe’s book on Wetiko, and knowledge of this phenomenon (whatever it is) also informs my world view and my art. Thanks again for backing me up, that “it’s not our imagination, the dominant culture IS absolutely dangerous”. I look forward to reading your blog. -Mark

      2.  Avatar

        “I also have discovered ways to subvert their attention and move more freely in the miasm.”

        Please share?

  13. CA Avatar

    OMG that is beautiful and describes me and as I am beginning to see many others perfectly. Well done. Well done 🙂

  14. donyadunlap Avatar

    This is me. All of this blog is me. And yet it scares me to think of myself as “gifted” or to put myself in this category of “rainforest” minds as I don’t feel good enough to qualify. I am terrible at math, forgetful, I procrastinate terribly, I’m anxious a great deal of the time, I feel like I should be much more accomplished by this time in life than I am…and yet I’m an extremely fast learner, I can easily succeed at nearly anything I try…although I usually don’t progress beyond the initial flash-in-the-pan…I constantly have people coming to me for advice and I sometimes have a response that even surprises me at times. I have huge goals that both excite and overwhelm me. Sometimes I tackle them with all I have and I feel on top of the world, and at other times I feel like I can’t even breathe and run to Netflix to shut my brain down. Telling myself to get a grip is less than productive. I believe I could do great things if I could get my act together enough to be consistent in my passions, but the way to consistency alludes me. Thankfully, through your blog and a few others, I have recently discovered that I am not alone in this conflict and that there are names for the way my brain works. I might feel like a failure for not being like everyone else, but that doesn’t make me one. It just makes me different. Thank you for writing your helpful, encouraging posts…and please don’t stop!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks and I won’t stop! I’m writing for people just like you–so that you can meet your goals!

  15. AR Avatar

    This made me cry. So many times I doubt myself. And then I read something like this and I am validated. And that does not happen nearly enough for me. Thank you.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You’re quite welcome. Happy to help.

  16. holbart Avatar

    Paula, thank you for this special post. I can relate to it, obviously. LOL I love your choice of pictures this week, especially the parrots. Birds of a feather. . . Mountaintop views are also very relieving and soothing to me. Thank you for the pics.

    I feel like there should be a book called, The Survivor’s Guide to Positive Disintegration. It isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. I can’t imagine going through what I have gone through in my 30’s what g-g-gifted kids go through in their preteens and teens. Can. Not. Imagine. The isolation alone (pun not intended) is enough to kill you. It is relieving to know that we are not alone in being alone.

    Recovering my true self was much more painful and challenging than I could have ever imagined, but I feel like I am coming out of the worst of it. I have hope and clarity and sense of forward momentum. I feel ease in my shoulders and my feet on the ground. I never thought I would see this day. Feeling thankful.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, holbart, for inspiring the post. I think you ought to write that book! It’s a great title (and topic). I’m so happy that you’re recovering your true self.

  17. Zoe Beringer Avatar
    Zoe Beringer

    I really needed to read this today. I have been struggling greatly with this issue this last month, in every facet of my life – work, home, social. I have been wrestling in prayer and poem with it:


    You say that You’ve given me talents and giftings
    To build up Your Church, blessing others through me.
    So why do my words fall on ears that won’t listen
    Why can’t I find my voice and be free?

    Why do they all seem to long for my silence?
    To rush past or push me out of the way?
    Not wanting to know me, competing against me
    “Be quiet, be elsewhere”, each one seems to say.

    Your Word gives me warnings of loss of rewardings
    For those who bury the talents You give
    I don’t want to flaunt them, nor seek my own glory
    Yet hidden they must be in order to live

    But that isn’t living, it’s only existing
    Trapped in a cage that makes others feel free.
    So my thoughts go in circles, from running to yearning,
    Longing to find somewhere I can be me.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Beautiful, Zoe. Thank you so much.

    2. CA Avatar

      Zoe that is beautiful and poignant …I feel the same way
      Wow we deserve better

    3. Kristi Avatar

      Zoe, I think that’s a beautiful poem, and I relate to it as well. It comforts me a bit that the prophets in the Bible usually were not well-received either. But it would be so nice to know that I was heard and understood . . . .

    4. Erin Avatar

      Dear Zoe, you are not one of the flock. You are the sheepdog. You feel duty-bound to protect them, you have keen senses, and you can spot a wolf a mile away. Trouble is, the sheep don’t like you much. You scare the crap out of them. It is lonely, yes, but that is your gift. We are given the burdens we can bear, although sometimes it feels as though we can’t. A heavy burden is God’s faith in your strength. It would not have been given to you if you were not worthy of it. Much love.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Thank you, Erin.

  18. CA Avatar

    Wow spooky good 🙂 yes I’ve had to do that all my life. It was quite horrible. To feel people’s venom just because you are alive and good at stuff..so, brutal. And when you add projection to the mix it becomes worse…you begin to cheat backward on tests so they wont get mad at you and then when you aren’t successful they are happy. But what kind of people are they? That is why I love this blog so much you seem to really know what we go through and for that I really appreciate you. And I am…like I hope everybody is owning and knowing my authenticity much more and healing what needs healing. And arduous process to be sure. But worth it! 🙂 we are after all extremely gifted. And that doesn’t go away! Isn’t that a good thing? 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      So sorry about the venom, CA. I’m glad you know now that you’re not alone. And I’m happy to hear that you’re owning and knowing your authenticity. Definitely worth it!

  19. Cereese Hollen Avatar
    Cereese Hollen

    This is such a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” thing with me. I speak up, and I’m a “know-it-all” or a “show-off”. I get told I need to be put in my place, that I don’t know everything, or (I don’t understand this one at all) that I’m “too smart” for my “own good”. (Seriously, what does that even MEAN?!) If I hold back, then I’m lazy, not living up to my potential, lazy, squandering away my life, did I mention lazy??

    So then…what? Am I only allowed to be smart in a classroom? Or on a ship in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico while competing for plastic trophies?

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Well said, Cereese! Yes, what does that mean??? I’m sure many readers will relate. Thank you for the comment.

  20. Audra Avatar

    As usual Paula, you’ve read my mind and made me feel less lonely. Throughout the course of my life, I have felt most of the things on that list. I do feel like I have made great strides in recent years in showing myself more through comedy, a weekly online podcast I have been doing for 6 months now and just being more open in general. Through therapy and sheer will, I have forced myself to embrace my giftedness and indulge more of my multiple interests – I took a web development class last summer and am building a website which will hopefully someday help people know their elected officials better. It all sounds good on paper, but I procrastinate SO much (for example, I haven’t worked on the website in 3 months). I have no self-discipline because everything came so easy to me all throughout school and the first years of my career. I never learned how to focus or to work hard. I don’t really have any consistent emotional support in my life right now and am not sure I ever have. I have spent a lot of time in therapy, which was helpful in that it was a safe, objective space to work out my issues – but as I learned more about giftedness, I felt more misunderstood there and so I have taken a break from it. It’s hard to find consistent support outside of that. That leaves me trying to motivate and talk myself into not procrastinating, with minimal success. I meditate, but not everyday even though I love it and find it very helpful. I try to tell myself that I should meditate everyday and work toward showing more of myself, but most days I end up convincing myself that maybe I don’t have it in me. I feel like I do. And I want to see it through. And I know that all I have to do is act. And yet I don’t. I feel like I have overcome my bigs fears about sharing myself only to find that I’m just too lazy to do it on any kind of consistent basis. It’s a constant and frustrating struggle and it causes major stagnation. So I move in the right direction, but at a glacial pace. Thank you so much for providing a space to come when I am feeling lonely and misunderstood, and for showing yourself to all of us. It makes such a huge difference to know there is someone who understands giftedness so well. I am very grateful for you and this blog!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Audra. I’m so very glad I can be here for you. I wonder if you could look for a therapist who understands giftedness. Are you in CA? I think there are a number of them in CA. A list of professionals in CA (and there are lists on other websites–not very comprehensive but a start): http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/resources/homeschooling/gifted-homeschool-friendly-professionals/ The book Procrastination might be a good one for you. It goes into depth about some of the issues you describe here.

      You have it in you, Audra. I’ve met you. I know you do! It’s good to hear from you.

    2. samiansari696 Avatar

      Thank you for this Audra. I relate to pretty much every word. We can do this Audra, I think belief is the precursor to action. Right?!

  21. Ro Avatar

    History taught me that my intellectual functioning can be stolen from me (in my case by very heavy doses of psychotropic medications – I went from the top student of my year to a failing student, to a student who teachers gave a pass to out of pity even though I couldn’t complete my school work). Now nearly two decades later I live with a serious neurological illness, and have little faith in my memory, recall… just no faith in this so-called ‘gifted’ brain. My experience of life is nebulous. Since I became so unwell I was re-tested and scored within the 99th percentile on an IQ test (just as I did when younger). I often wonder how somebody who is intelligent on paper can be so stupid in reality. Believing in my intelligence would just make even more of a fool of me; that is how I feel. I am a perfectionist with an imperfectly working brain, and I am acutely aware of the fact at all times. I think it’s shame about my recall of information, and my difficulty communicating verbally that has me trapped. I’m slow to process. Throughout my life people have assumed that I am unintelligent for various reasons beyond my control, and I think that has deeply shaken my belief in myself (of which there was little to begin with). My husband and daughter are the only people who know my true self, because they understand that even when I have to ask for help to find words I can’t quite reach, or I stop mid sentence and start over again (sometimes 10 minutes later), or I’ve forgotten some pertinent information that they have to remind me of… I might still have something to say that is worth hearing. Through mindfulness practice and the practice of self-compassion, I am trying to show more of my true oddball self to people outside my family. It’s a start. I’m also studying part time at home, despite my ongoing reservations as to my abilities. I’ve also been practicing a more tricky piano piece, despite my swimming head and inability to perfect it. I’m trying to become friends with imperfection, I guess you could say 🙂 No idea where stepping out of my comfort zone will lead me, but I will say I am enjoying playing the piano when I can, as well as studying.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Making friends with imperfection. A good lesson for all of us. I’m so glad that you have a husband and daughter who are understanding and supportive. Thanks for reading and sharing, Ro.

    2. Sharlette Avatar

      Your story sound exactly like mine, just an overwhelming feeling that something inside my brain is deteriorating, or that there is a fuse shorting from time to time. I often cannot for the life of me remember words, I too lose my sentences half way through….the whole train of thought just…..vanishes (extremely embarrassing at times). If I am learning something I need up to 24 hours for it to just ‘sink in’ (frustrating when something really needs to re retained immediately….to counteract this I write down instructions/working processes to carry me through until the info/process has sunk in.) Some days I can calculate complex mathematical equations….on other days I struggle to work out the mathematical process to add three numbers together……I get no warning of the bad days until I need to function in a specific way, and can’t.

      You mention a serious neurological illness. Is this diagnosed? I would love to know more about this……it might provide me with some long sought for answers.

      P.S I too, have had to make friends with imperfection……or at least accept its existence in my world!….in myself, AND in others.

      1. Ro Avatar

        Hello Sharlette, I’m sorry you are struggling like this. It is not an enjoyable aspect of life! I could relate a lot to what you wrote as well; the adaptations etc. I’ve been diagnosed with moderate-severe generalized dysautonomia by a neurologist, Sharlette. Thankfully I am in a better place right now (which is why I can get up and play the piano sometimes, leave the house for outings with the family sometimes in my wheelchair, study part time from home etc). though in the past I have been terribly unwell and in hospital a lot. My ‘thinking’ symptoms are related to incorrect/reduced blood flow to my brain it is thought. It worsens the longer I am sitting up. Dysautonomia can be very effectively tested for if you see the right doctor and they put you through the correct tests. I’ve heard there are many many different reasons why people might have these kinds of symptoms though, so your case could very well be of different aetiology. Yes, making friends with imperfection is a great thing to do… and imperfection in others as well; a very good point! I find that the more I accept myself, the more I can accept other people as they are, too. It’s a slow process though. Wishing you all the best Sharlette. Hope you find the answers you are looking for. Take care 🙂

        1.  Avatar

          thyroid disorder is another common cause of brain fog

    3. sternsmk Avatar

      Ro- if you see this – write to me. I understand exactly where you’re coming from. 🙂 sternsmk@hotmail.com

  22. KtCallista Avatar

    With only a few edits I think I can take the set, and go have a good cry.
    I remember my first post-college job. My supervisor liked to joke around with everyone, one of the things he always commented on was my vocabulary. I always have had a great oral vocabulary (I struggle with spelling), and I didn’t always take the time to think of the common terms before sharing my thoughts on wildlife management- my career at the time.
    My mother so manipulative that I still have to be guarded talking to her at times.
    Putting my thoughts out only to end up offending or annoying.
    Taking on so much because I know I can do it well and giving up my writing time, my sleep.
    Trying to help my rainforest daughters navigate a new suburban public school where the kids aren’t as academically oriented as they are used to – and feeling horribly selfish the whole time because it was my job desires that brought us to Oregon and forced them into this situation!

    Yes, I think I’ll take the list and go have a good cry. (And reshare it in my FB and G+). Thank you Paula.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      A good cry can help. Sending hugs.

  23. lauralynnwalsh Avatar

    How about:

    21) I’ve tried and it doesn’t seem to make a difference to anyone.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh Lauralynn, I’m sad to hear that you don’t feel like what you’re doing is making a difference to anyone. Maybe some of the ideas I suggest will help? It can be hard to find other rainforest minds. They would be more likely to “get” you. Don’t give up!

  24. byamtich Avatar

    I was explicitly told #5 at a diversity retreat. I think there is more in the Conversation Space and Possibility Space than many people can imagine.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      So sorry you were told you took up too much space, Bob. At a diversity retreat, no less. Geez. Always good to hear your thoughts.

%d bloggers like this: