If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Lonely?

photo from Dave Worley, flickr, CC
photo from Dave Worley, flickr, CC

It didn’t go well when you were a little tyke.

You assumed that the other 5 year olds loved reading the dictionary as much as you did.

You assumed that all 7 year olds preferred a vacation to NASA over a trip to Disneyworld.

You assumed that the other kids would want to play your intricate games and learn your secret codes rather than play yet another round of Candyland.

You didn’t know that you had a rainforest mind. Maybe you still don’t.

That’s why I’m here.

Relationships can be tricky when you have a rainforest mind.

Have you noticed?

You think you’re explaining your ideas quite thoroughly and clearly. But your listeners aren’t listening. They’re lost in your creative leaps and poetic language. Or they don’t really care about the future of the electric car. Or they think your enthusiasm for mycelium is weird.

That you are weird.

If you’re particularly sensitive, which I know you are, then, you’re feeling more emotion and more empathy than the people around you. They might start avoiding you because you seem to be less cool, less able to “go with the flow.”

You might find it hard to pretend to like them. Or to accommodate their need for chit chat. You might feel crazy because what’s obvious to you, might not be apparent to them.

But you want to belong. You want to fit in. Have friends for heaven’s sake. Maybe even find a partner. Right? Is that too much to ask?


I have good news and bad news.

Good news:

There are rainforest-minded people out there. Yes, there are. I meet them every day in my counseling office. (Aren’t I the lucky one?) And they are radiant beings. Shining lights of smartness, courage and sweetness. (Just like you.) Navigating their intricate and luminous existences on this planet. Seeking authenticity, purpose and love. Wanting to make a difference while they’re here.

Bad news:

You will have to look for them. Carefully. They’re probably hiding, like you are.

But I have some ideas.

Mostly, you have to know who you are. Figure out who you are. Use psychotherapy or yoga or meditation or painting or dancing or science or astrology or acupuncture or reading or hiking or music or spirituality or dark chocolate or some combination of these things. It’ll require time and effort. There may be crying.

And then you have to love that gorgeous rainforest-y mind (heart-body-soul-spirit) of yours.

You can do it.

photo from Julia Caesar, Unsplash, CC
photo from Julia Caesar, Unsplash, CC

Take a moment now and feel your glow. Maybe it’s in your heart. Maybe in your belly or your feet. I know it’s there. It’s always been there. It just may be crushed under the weight of a dysfunctional family or inadequate schooling or global suffering or some combination of these things.

As you feel your own radiance, you’ll be better able to spot your cohorts, your mates, your tribespeople– and you’ll have the courage to approach them and create your community.

They’ll find you, too.

You’ll be hard to miss.

They’ll see you sparkling.


To my blogEEs: I know that it’s not easy to find yourself and love yourself. For most of us, it’s a lifelong journey. Know that you don’t have to be perfect before you find other rainforest-y beings. Just get started. OK? And let us know how it’s going. We’re here for you.

For more posts on the topic of giftedness and relationships, click on the link below. 10430857_10205935258433150_7392407120722756515_n




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.

120 responses to “If I’m So Smart, Why Am I So Lonely?”

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  2. Ana Júlia Avatar
    Ana Júlia

    Hi, Paula! Thank you so much for this post. I am a young brazilian girl that has been reading your blog for a while now – roughly one month – and I am always conforted by your words. I was able to find my people last year, and they have been my anchor in the middle of chaos. How wonderful it is when we are completely accepted, right? Even with our differences, we got along pretty well. Sometimes these friends would “play turns” to hear me rambling about things, and this way I could be myself without feeling self counscious about exhausting people with my mind. I also learned how to express myself in ways that people could undestand without being “too much” or “too fast” or “too complex” for a 16 years old. I also realized that I could help others by using my abilities, and because of that I started to study with my classmates before the tests. Sometimes, I would teach over 10 people on lunch break.
    I am now in the process of being tested for giftedness (I don’t really like this word) and everyone around me has been fully supportive, which is everything I could ever ask for. I am a little bit scared (not gonna lie) but your blog has been a huge help. Gifted or not, rainforest ou not, I will always be reading your posts. And I’m sorry for any English mistakes!

    1. Ana Júlia Avatar
      Ana Júlia

      *comforted *skills (please don’t mind me)

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        I’m so glad you are here, Ana Julia. Keep reading! There is even a post coming out soon about rainforest minds in Brazil! Perhaps you will see it and write a comment about your own experiences. Your English is excellent!! Thank you.

        1. Ana Júlia Avatar
          Ana Júlia

          Thank you! I’m looking forward to it!

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  4. Elaine Avatar

    I swear I had never understood (until now) why I always felt so lonely when young, even though I had very loving parents and even a few friends. Thank you.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober


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