So, You’re Gifted. Who Cares and Why Does it Matter?

photo courtesy of Jeremy Thomas, Unsplash

It matters. Even if no one else cares. It matters that you know. And that you care.

Why? you ask with that quizzical oh-so-disarming look of yours. (Yes, I know that look.)

Because, my darling:

You will understand that what you imagined were your poor communication skills, was actually your inability to slow your super-speedy thoughts. Not to mention your assumption that everyone thinks as deeply, as quickly, and as multi-dimensionally as you do. They don’t. (This does not make them terrible people. I know. It just means that they might not comprehend your perturbations.)

You will give yourself permission to be the voracious learner that you are. To let yourself dive into the esoteric, obscure, mysterious, complex topics that other people can’t possibly grok and wouldn’t want to.

You will allow yourself to be obsessed with beauty, balance, harmony, precision, and justice. (Your healthy perfectionism.) Even if it means that you don’t get as much done because you’re crying over the majesty of the night sky.

You will have compassion and appreciation for your ridiculously high standards and expectations and your need to ruminate over the exact wording of your email to the plumber.

You will understand why you’ve been lonely all of these years and stop thinking it’s because you don’t smile enough, don’t make small talk, or because you suck at sports.

You’ll find an appropriate career path or two or ten.

You’ll protect your sensitivity and empathy from the assault of perfumes, ragers, leaf blowers, chemicals, clamoring hoards, noisy chewers, creepy humans, nasty Facebook messages, boring lectures, and houses that are painted orange.

You will understand that what looks quirky, eccentric, weird, and geeky to others is what makes you fascinating.

You will stop misdiagnosing yourself with labels such as OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, Aspergers, slacker, weird, or just-plain-crazy. (And, sure, you may be twice-exceptional, 2e, and have a particular diagnosis along with your rainforest mind, but there’s a whole lot of misdiagnosing goin’ on, too. So you’re gonna stop that now.)

You will appreciate your curiosity and your questioning of everything. And you’ll continue to search for meaning, purpose(s), and justice. This will result in benefits to your children, neighbors, relatives, friends, animals, plants, ancestors, the planet, and humanity at large.

Let me say that again in a different way.

Knowing that you are gifted, matters. It will explain what might otherwise create confusion, self-doubt, anxiety, depression, angst, or despair. It will allow you to blossom into the best human that you can be.

And this will result in benefits to your children, neighbors, relatives, friends, animals, plants, ancestors, the planet, and humanity at large.

Even if they don’t know that they care.


To my bloggEEs: This is for those of you who may actually accept that you have a rainforest mind but are still wondering why it’s important that you know it. What’s your reaction to this post? What else do you need to know that will help with your self-acceptance? Thank you, as always, for being here. And, I have a request. If you’ve read my book, can you take a moment and write a review on Amazon? It doesn’t have to be long or perfect. 🙂 (And if you haven’t read it, well, now would be the optimal time, doncha know…)




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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.

46 responses to “So, You’re Gifted. Who Cares and Why Does it Matter?”

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  1. Alice Coursier Avatar
    Alice Coursier

    Reblogged this on A day in the life of Alice. and commented:
    This is my first reblog, but I had to. Would I ever describe myself as gifted? Perhaps now. Are you gifted, too? Read this blog and then, if you’re like me, the entire site.

  2. Alice Coursier Avatar
    Alice Coursier

    What an interesting article. I’ve have a few diagnoses and none of them really felt right aside from autism spectrum disorder. So, I may be gifted? Cool.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Welcome, Alice!

  3. Toren Hynes Avatar
    Toren Hynes

    My reaction to this post is… exothermic!

    There’s no doubt I’m RFM. Apparently even professionals couldn’t see it. They thought I was Aspergers. But they noted something didn’t quite fit. After a bit of reading here, there, & everywhere, I see myself as literally the classic 2E and RFM. Most likely the SPLD involved is dyspraxia. These blog posts are very relatable, in my opinion. Thanks for them.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Glad to have you here, Toren. Welcome!

  4. Giannina Lilian Avatar
    Giannina Lilian

    This was shared translated on a facebook page for gifted people in spanish (Argentina).
    I did not read your book.
    But I wanted to say my reaction to this was:
    A tear falling from my right eye, reaching my nose right now. And I am smiling 🙂

    And let me tell you everybody loved your text on the comments (in spanish)!!
    And some wish to read your book, asking if it is available on spanish.

    THANK YOU for your beautiful, accurate words, understanding us all, and thank you very much for the love you put on this 😀 We are finding a special place, that is OUR SPECIAL PLACE, thanks to you.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh thank you so much, Giannina! I do wish my book would be translated into Spanish and other languages. The publisher is a very small press so they don’t have the funds to do it. But I’m happy to have anyone translate my blog posts and share them! I so appreciate your comment. You made my day! <3

  5. Bertram Kundert Avatar
    Bertram Kundert

    Your article describes me to a T. I am 69 now and have been alone my entire life. I wish I could have seen this sixty years ago, it would have made a great difference in how I thought of myself I was an total outcast in school and home and did not understand why until I was told I have Asperger’s. It helped explain much of my past, but did little to make me feel better about myself. Your article is one I am saving and may share with others in my family. I thank you for your insight and support.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m so glad you found my blog, Bertram. Share it!

  6. Kristina Avatar

    Love this. Thank you 😊

  7. cmd1122 Avatar

    *Ellis Paul Torrance. Whoops.
    The quote: “Creativity defies precise definition. This conclusion does not bother me at all. In fact, I am quite happy with it. Creativity is almost infinite. It involves every sense – sight, smell, hearing, feeling, taste and even perhaps the extrasensory. Much of it is unseen, nonverbal and unconscious. Therefore, even if we had a precise concept of creativity, I am certain we would have difficulty putting it into words.”

  8. cmd1122 Avatar

    Thanks for your helpful reply. Big hugs back at you, Paula! I’ve browsed over and it might be useful.

    I had never thought of taking an online class, but it could be a great way to connect with others. I enjoy the various topics on your blog. Other useful topics to read about/discuss: independent learning vs. university classes (how to keep learning and stay fulfilled while avoiding the horrors that academia can host), surviving work environments (staff meetings, silly policies, how to be civil in a professional setting amid ideas that don’t make any sense and go about pitching ones worth trying, and seeing through until they are tried), discussing the current political climate (world and US/ privatization/ nationalism/ militarization) and resisting what this capitalist world is constantly trying to force us into doing and being, how to maintain one’s sanity while working for what is right (NGO work, simply being good people in life), successful self-care methods, what to eat in a world where so much food is processed and unethical, the essence of life and how to get the most out of it (daily, short-term and long-term), when and how to let things go, hobbies that we find soothing, contemplating bringing children into this world, how to guide gifted students through the education system…

    …bibliotherapy aimed at RFMs (including philosophy and poetry)? Could we read biographies of RFMs and their writing about their personal experiences? I came across a quote from Paul Ellis Torrance about creativity and it made me want to read into his work and his biography as I hardly know anything about him.

    Someone may have commented previously about this, but I’ve imagined forming a sort of commune with RFM people and those who we vet as being good community members. Communes don’t tend to last, but imagine the discussions we could have, the things we could collectively invent and write and design and draw and play and grow. Thinking about that makes me feel guilty, as we’d be somewhat isolated and not necessarily do our part to help humanity to live in more sustainable, peaceful, equitable and beauty-filled ways…but we could venture into the real world and try to plant some seeds of change…they might call us crazy, but it wouldn’t be the first time.

    I look forward to hearing more about your course ideas.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Great suggestions. I’m just starting to think about what an online class/gathering might look like so all input is appreciated. Certainly, we could share playlists and book recommendations here at any time. I imagine that you could live communally with RFMs while also impacting the “real world.” I remember reading some of E. Paul Torrance’s work years ago. I bet a biography would be fascinating. Have you found one? Thank you!

      1. cmd1122 Avatar

        Sounds good, Paula.
        The biography is called E. Paul Torrance, “The Creativity Man” : an Authorized Biography. I haven’t found it in the catalogs of libraries I have access to, but it is available on Amazon. I’ll start with your book (wink).
        Take care. I look forward to the next post (as always).

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Um, yeah. MY book. Ahem… 🙂

  9. cmd1122 Avatar

    Thanks, Paula! Beautiful and helpful post. So many things described me well and made me smile, as I at various stages of learning to channel them positively.

    I loved your explanation about poor communication skills. Yes, my mind races ahead to the next ‘logical’ connecting idea, so I might not always focus 100% on what the other person is saying, but I am becoming a better listener. I used to think that I was just ‘bad’ at small talk because I didn’t know much about pop culture, meaning I was weird and unsocial. But if the small talk topics are trivial and involve gossip/petty issues/complaining, it is healthier to amuse myself in my own head. (This has happened a lot in the last 3 days as I visit family. After being asked to put on some music one evening, I have focused on being the DJ—thanks YouTube—so my mind can at least amuse itself with musicality and lyrics). I jump back into the small talk to act polite, then return to thinking about totally different things, often in a different language, to take my mind to a different place. Sometimes I do live translation (in my head) of the actual conversation taking place, and if there are certain words I can’t translate, I look them up later.

    A quote I remind myself of (in no way to be arrogant, but just as a way of staying sane during debilitatingly dull conversations), is: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” If the people haven’t had a chance to read much, go to school or travel, then I try to think about what their experiences involve and start an interesting conversation about something that they might be able to relate to. When I find interesting people at social gatherings, I thank my lucky stars and make the most of having a conversation about ideas.

    I toil over the exact wording of unimportant emails, struggle with being lonely, being told I don’t smile enough (and coming to believe it), the majority of those triggers you listed…’healthy perfectionism’ is currently winning over perfectionism.

    With the recent talk about Spade and Bourdain and suicide and depression, I’ve had to pretend I’m not hearing the ensuing ignorant and judgmental comments, as the people spewing them clearly don’t understand what anxiety or depression are and can do to a person. Awareness about mental health has a long way to go. I’ve been keeping my mouth shut, as I don’t know if I could explain things to do justice to the depth of these issues, without getting too personal and then not being able to handle my own emotional and mental reaction to the replies of the listeners.

    There are days when I don’t believe I have a RFM, but reading your posts and the bloggee comments over the past two years ago reaffirms that something is not the average in the way I am wired. I often revisit the posts when I’m feeling anxious. What else would help with self-acceptance? Meeting other people who follow your blog (a weekend hang out, RFM-style?). That might be tricky, but could we at least make a list of song suggestions that help us, say to get in a creative mood, or in the mood to write or think, etc. (Perhaps a list on a post or a Google Doc)? It’s about time I bought your book. My immediate family might never understand me, but I am building relationships with people who do, although I still find it hard to meet other RFMs in their twenties (most of my friends have been older, which is fine, but it is helpful to be able to relate to people close to my age).

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, there is so much here to respond to cmd1122! First, I’m thinking of designing an online class for RFMs. What do you think? I’d use a platform where you could see each other and talk to each other and then share email addresses if you wanted to. What would you like to see in the class? I’m going to write more about it in my next post.

      You’re welcome to post a playlist in the comments here or on any post. That’s a great idea. And, Yeah! Get my book already!!

      Have you looked into They do have a FB group and classes for gifted adults. I know some of my readers are there, too. Could that be a place to go for support?

      Thank you for sharing so much of your experience here. I know other readers will be soothed by what you’re saying and will feel a little less alone. Sending you big hugs.

    2. Félix Avatar

      Hi there cmd1122. As a RFM myself in my twenties, I have to say that it is indeed really hard to find people to talk with at my age. Just like you, most of my friends have been older and I always liked to hang out with adults. I have now been fully aware of my giftedness for a few months, although I have always known that I was different (in a good way!). This is the first time in my life that I’ve thought about integrating into a community like this because it’s the first time I’ve really felt concerned when reading a blog. I too feel lonely even though all my family are RFM and that they support me or try to at least. If you would like to get in touch, let me know. I would greatly appreciate talking with you or anybody that wish to.

      Paula Prober, I must say that your blog is very interesting. With each reading, I get to know myself better or I confirm the validity of some of my perceptions about the world around me, which is reassuring! I have already watched the film Gifted that you suggested and I greatly appreciated it knowing that it takes a first step in the right direction. I have the impression that your blog brings joy to people who never knew where to place themselves in society and I want to thank you for that. For me, it was by reading this blog that I really discovered which group I belong to. I look forward to the next post.

      I’ll stop here because I don’t think this is the place to write a biography.

      Please excuse my English, it is not my mother tongue and I have not used it for some time.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Felix, your English is excellent! Thank you for writing. I’m still thinking about how to get bloggEEs in touch with each other through a class or something that i facilitate. I don’t want to create a Facebook group as they are so hard to manage. I’m glad you’re here and appreciate hearing from you.

      2. cmd1122 Avatar

        Thanks for your comment, Félix, and welcome to Paula’s blog. A few months of being fully aware of your giftedness is not a long time–perhaps it feels exhilarating and mind-boggling and various other emotions combined? This blog was also the first that I felt connected to, about two years ago, and the posts and ensuing comments by different readers have certainly cheered me up, provided support, and like you said, brought joy to people who never knew where to place themselves in society. I hope you will enjoy it.
        You write English incredibly well. What is your mother tongue?
        I’m not really sure how to get in contact without leaving my email address in a comment, which I’d rather not do. Ideas?

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          If you both want to email each other, you can email me your addresses and I’ll email them to each of you. My email is 🙂

          1. Félix Avatar

            Thank you very much Paula, it’s very nice of you to offer to help. I really appreciate it. I’m sending you my email right away.

        2. Félix Avatar

          Honestly, it is really exciting because it is like discovering a new world that I always suspected, but I didn’t have proof of. Right now, I want to discover all that is possible to learn about that subject. And yes, I’m really enjoying my trip on this blog at the moment. My mother tongue is french. I didn’t want to put my email in a comment either so I waited for your response. As i can see, Paula came up with a solution for us!

          1. Paula Prober Avatar
            Paula Prober

            I hope you keep reading other posts, Félix. I’d love to read more of your thoughts in the comments.

          2. Craig Avatar

            Welcome to our world, Felix. I myself discovered my giftedness about 10 years ago at the age of 44. It is a wild ride for a few years, but it is an amazing world we live in today. Some have likened this discovery process to ‘coming out’. I started with Grady Towers – ‘The Outsiders’ and there is a chapter in the book Wounded Warriors. These are more about dysfunction than function, so I much prefer Paula’s work. Definitely read her book. Also Living with Intensity, and Noks Nauta has a good website and reading. I joined the Triple Nine Society and started conversations with like minds, and this has allowed me to be myself. My confidence has increased enough to be able to tell my family about my giftedness and to bring more of myself to work. As I think Paula would say, it’s all about knowing yourself so you can be yourself.

            1. Paula Prober Avatar
              Paula Prober

              Thank you for sharing these resources, Craig. And, yes, that’s what I would say! 🙂

            2. Félix Avatar

              Hi Craig. I feel like I should get a hang of it pretty quickly because in my case, it is less about discovering who I am and more about discovering what I belong to. I have always done a lot of introspection and my parents helped me to do that. Maybe I’m deluding myself or oversimplifying it, but right now that’s how I see it. And yes, I think too that the next step is to read a book on that subject but I need to finish my academic rush first. I will certainly read Paula’s book and review your website recommendations. I’m also looking into joining Mensa or any other group of that kind, I hear they’re pretty active in my area. Finally, bringing more of myself to work will certainly be a big challenge for me. I always hid who I really was at work, knowing full well that others would not understand. Well, thanks for sharing me all of this. Take care.

  10. Dede ElAtrache Avatar
    Dede ElAtrache

    This, made me cry, on so many levels. Thank you. I have three just like me.

  11. Themon the Bard Avatar
    Themon the Bard

    Sweetly and beautifully put.

  12. Craig C Avatar
    Craig C

    Thank you for your insights, spot on again. I am well down the path you are describing, and accept it and embrace it. The question I need the most help with today, which you raised, is how do I stop ruminating over the exact wording in my email to my plumber? Although, to be honest, it was an email to my shower door installer, but I think your solution would still apply!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’d say you’ll want to understand the complexity of the two types of perfectionism so give yourself time to unravel this. Eventually, you can start to prioritize your activities and allow that some things just aren’t important enough to agonize over. If there’s an error in your email to your shower door installer, does that really matter??

  13. Lara Lara Larita Avatar
    Lara Lara Larita

    Thanks for sharing, I ended up with tears in my eyes.

  14. medleymisty Avatar

    LOL at “It doesn’t have to be long or perfect.” That always gets me online because I feel like I have to comment on everyone’s things and reply to their comments on mine and be socially engaged, but also of course it all ends up having to be long and perfect, so it takes a lot of effort and time, and then I can’t keep that up so I start isolating and avoiding commenting on things, and then I feel guilty and ashamed of not being as social and supportive as people, or at least women who participate in communities where writing is shared for free online, expect everyone to be.

    I don’t know. I am so tired of humans. I am tired of living in a country that makes life so much harder than it has to be and that refuses to think about solving any of its problems, and that always chooses to do things that will make the problems worse. Reality combined with trauma has me pretty bitter and hopeless about humans at the moment.

    I am coping by letting them go and focusing on me and my life. We joined a gym a couple of weeks ago, so working out is my current special interest and I’m researching it and figuring out ways to get stronger and healthier.

    I don’t know. I guess me being gifted matters to me. In my healthier moments, it’s a way for me to understand why I sometimes have trouble socially online without pathologizing/shaming myself.

    I really need to work on the thing about “Not to mention your assumption that everyone thinks as deeply, as quickly, and as multi-dimensionally as you do. They don’t. ” Because I assume that, and I know it’s a wrong thing to assume, but my brain still does it. And that contributes to the hopelessness, because I’m assuming that humans know what they are doing and that they are choosing to cause suffering because they just like to make others suffer.

    I’ve spent years trying to get my brain to understand that it’s wrong about that, and I’ve read so much about how humans work, but I still….I don’t know. There’s something fundamental that I’m missing and that I can’t understand.

    Oh well. I’m feeling better just in the couple of weeks we’ve been going to the gym, and endorphins and better physical health will help a fair bit, I think.

    Thank you. Your posts do help me understand some things and feel a bit better.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I understand being tired of humans, medleymisty. On another note, I think some rainforest minds find it harder to write a short comment, because they have so much to say and don’t know what to leave out.

      1. Themon the Bard Avatar
        Themon the Bard

        “I made this one [letter] longer only because I have not had the leisure to make it shorter.” — Blaise Pascal


  15. Jo Avatar

    Thanks for sharing this. I have often wondered if it “matters” and sometimes thought it was more of a curse than a blessing. I had the incredible opportunity about 10 years ago to work on one of four construction engineering oversight/inspection crews that was derisively called the brain trust by the other three, mostly gifted people who were actually comfortable with each other. For the first time I FIT IN! It was the best job I ever had, and though all good things eventually end I found another job in the same agency with a manager who mostly let my mind work.

    Last year I went back to teaching. I have a couple of middle school and high school students who will be hearing what you wrote next year. I hope I can help these gifted young people become comfortable with their own minds without becoming arrogant jerks, thinking they are superior in every way (one had that tendency, though I suspect it’s just a means of self-protection). You clearly expressed what I wanted to say.

    Thanks again for sharing this. Your writing is a balm for my soul.

    1. cmd1122 Avatar

      I love what you shared about a couple of your students. Like you said, they probably won’t become arrogant and think they are superior. I’m sure they will appreciate connecting with others who they can relate to, and maybe it will help them to help more people using their skill sets. 🙂

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Jo, chances are, the students won’t become arrogant. I agree that what looks like arrogance may be self-protection or insecurity. The rainforest-y kids are usually the sensitive, empathetic ones who will appreciate your explanations and understanding. (as cmd1122 also says)

  16. Vanessa Stone Avatar
    Vanessa Stone

    ❤️ I am always uplifted by reading your blog. Thank you for addressing the needs of gifted adults. It helps me survive the needs of my gifted children.

  17.  Avatar

    Yes! This is so helpful. This blog has really helped me deal with my mind. I am bipolar 2, so there’s been so much emphasis on that aspect that everything else gets lumped into it. So for a very long time I felt like all the best things about me were mental illness. Even typing that makes me sad because it was such a negative way to view myself. Thank you for your posts and this community. I feel normal here 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It can be so tricky if you are twice exceptional. I’m so glad that my blog is helping you sort out what’s bipolar and what’s gifted!

  18. Sarah Avatar

    Great article!

  19. Abbie Robson Avatar
    Abbie Robson

    This blog has helped me so much over the last couple of years, and this post is so relevant. The extension of your title ‘it matters’ is that ‘I matter’, and that helps me feel far more confident in being who I am, rather than trying to be what I think I should be and feeling fake and vapid much of the time because of it.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Beautiful, Abbie. Yes, you matter!

  20. Shari Avatar

    Thank you for this today. I was at my wits’ end.

  21. A Allen Avatar
    A Allen


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