Gifted In Finland — What Are Gifted Adults Like Across Cultures?

photo courtesy of tapio haaja, Unsplash

Kaisa, 26, shows all the signs of being gifted. Maybe even exceptionally so. What are the signs?

“…I learned to read at a young age and have always been an avid reader and super curious about everything. I have always been overly sensitive but was quickly told by parents and environment to shut down my sensitiveness. In kindergarten I was asked what I wanted for Christmas and I answered, ‘peace and love for the world.’ I was 5. I was also very concerned about hunger in developing countries and the waste produced by plastic bags…”

At an early age: Avid reading, intense curiosity, high sensitivity, concern about justice and environmental issues

“…I’m now at university also where I face people telling me that it is not worth it to think so much. To me it is like telling a bird to stop flying…”

Being accused of overthinking when it is actually deep, analytical, creative awareness, and curiosity. An extremely active mind. You are just *over* when compared to regular thinkers. You may be anxious and start ruminating but this is different from your capacity to think. With anxiety, you will want to learn how to self-soothe and calm your nervous system. With thinking, well, I say, keep flying.

“…I sometimes get so excited about an idea or theory that I cannot continue reading or thinking because it causes my body to get super energetic and I have an urge to move. The other day I was looking at DNA structures for one course and I almost started crying because they looked so beautiful and I got shivers when thinking about how the world is so beautifully organized from the tiniest particles. People tell me I’m intense, too serious (I’m rarely serious. I find myself quite funny.) too much, idealistic. I have had problems finishing my degree (mainly because I’m unmotivated there as I am not challenged enough). My problem is also I have a strong artistic and a strong intellectual side of me, I weigh them as equals and I feel like I need to explain myself to people all the time…I’m planning to inspire and serve the world…I know I could talk myself out of it but then it feels like self betrayal.”

Intellectual excitement that stimulates body responses can be explained via Dabrowski’s overexcitabiity theory. There can be somatic/sensual high abilities along with the intellectual, emotional, and imaginational. You have the capacity to deeply appreciate and respond to life’s complexities and subtle beauty. Sense of humor and idealism may not be understood by others. School may not be challenging and so motivation is difficult. Often you feel the drive to be of service or create a better world.

“…Finnish culture teaches people to be humble so if one excels at something and one is proud of it they are looked upon as… arrogant, etc. Multipotentiality or multitalented is not yet understood or supported by the society that well…in general the response from the culture has been ‘who do you think you are’…”

You have many interests and abilities and are told you need to focus and pick just one thing, which is impossible, stifling, and ridiculous. It is not unusual to be called arrogant even if you are trying to hide your achievements and your interests.

These are the signs of giftedness. In Kaisa. In Finland. And around the world.


To my bloggEEs: Well, my frequent flyers, who do you think know you are?? Isn’t it fascinating to see the similarities across cultures? Thank you to Kaisa and all of you for sharing your experiences. I welcome your comments here and your emails from around the world. Here is an article on exceptional/profound giftedness for those of you who suspect you might be at that end of the spectrum. And, speaking of flying, if you need a lift because these times are particularly hard, listen to this and start defying gravity! 


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.

22 responses to “Gifted In Finland — What Are Gifted Adults Like Across Cultures?”

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  1.  Avatar

    Hi! I came across this inspiring article today, and as it seems, there actually are other gifted people in Finland, wow 😀 I agree with the previous commentators that in Finland this phenomenon goes completely unrecognised. Our egalitarian culture most probably plays a part in this. I am a 30 yo male and identify as gifted. It would be so nice to meet others identifying under the term. I just have no idea where to search them from. Does anyone happen to know any societies or anything for the gifted in Finland? Thank you.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Welcome! Glad you found my blog. One idea is that you go to and check their Facebook group. You might find some Finland folks there. They are an international group of gifted souls. Glad you are here! And, perhaps, some of my readers will respond.

      1.  Avatar

        Thank you Paula for your important work!

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  5. ÅÄÖ Avatar

    Hello Kaisa, and others. This ‘who do you think you are’ sounds just so familiar to someone who grew up in Finland. I think the Jante Law describes also the Finnish society very well. Of course I have met some wonderful Finnish RFM folks over the years, they do exist, but as always, take time to find.

  6. MayMay Avatar

    “…I sometimes get so excited about an idea or theory that I cannot continue reading or thinking because it causes my body to get super energetic and I have an urge to move”

    OMG I thought I was the only one!!!! In fact, I don’t even like to move, but whenever that energy comes in, I feel like I need to run. It’s funny that we, and some other people are experiencing the exactly same thing across the cultures. I did actually google about that ‘weird energy’ and results were not found (🤭) I’m laughing too much when reading this blog today, thank you and greetings from Malaysia 😄💚

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh yes, MayMay! That’s why I write this blog! So you aren’t alone anywhere in the world and you find self-acceptance and self-understanding so you can be all that you are. Thank you for telling us where you live. Sending love to Malaysia! (You might research Dabrowski and psychomotor overexcitability or even just the concept of body-mind connection. I suspect it’s both. Maybe another reader will explain it!)

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        And, MayMay, it would be fascinating to learn more about being gifted in Malaysia. If you’d like to say more about yourself and your country, email me some details and I’ll include that in a future post. Of course, it’s fine if you’d rather not!

  7. Michael Shaughnessy Avatar
    Michael Shaughnessy

    There ARE good people in Finland who work with gifted in Turku and Helsinki- I don’t know about Rauma and other cities

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Michael. Do you want to share their names or websites so readers can find them?

    2.  Avatar

      Hello Michael, would you be kind enough to share any links to good people in Finland who work with the gifted? I’m Finnish myself but live in Switzerland, and I find the information on giftedness absolutely non-existant in Finland. Nobody seems to understand what giftedness is all about there…

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Do you know that is based in Switzerland? You might want to contact them for a physically distanced meet up!

  8. River Aaland Avatar
    River Aaland

    Ahhh I feel like Kaisa is the Finnish me! I relate to all of this so much, including being transported by the wonder of reality and being both creative and intellectual.

    So fascinating to think about how this is perceived or engaged with in different cultures! Hmmmm… *goes off to ponder and google*

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Happy pondering, River!

  9. koolaidmoms Avatar

    I love these having an EE son. I didn’t know he had taught himself to read until we were in the doctor’s office one day and he picked up a book and started reading it to me. It was a simple book but one he had never seen before. He was 28 months old. Since then it has been non-stop reading and flights of fancy on learning. He pokes and prods around at things until he finds something that interests him and then he is all in on it. He starting to look into going to college and struggling with the choice. As Kasia said having to pick one thing is impossible. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Do you mean 2e? Or, what is EE? Choices can be so difficult when you have a rainforest mind often because you want to do it all!

      1. koolaidmoms Avatar

        Sorry yes 2E. 😀

  10. karendee57 Avatar

    Totally relate to everything she said. I would just add that a few years back when I was really sharing myself and the results of my creative work, artistic, writing and research, I was feeling that I was being judged as arrogant. I was also trying to make a business out of my work. Last week I was talking to a male friend who has done really well in financial business and we talked about how my being ‘superior’ but it’s just that I really excelled. Most of the time for men in the business world….being excellent gets you in good positions and company. For me, I’ was perceived as something was wrong with my ‘personality and my behaviors’ and I knew what I knew that I knew others didn’t…….and I can look back and see how this happened at other times and I didn’t realize it. Different countries and different communities…..why must it be so hard I want to ask, but I know why. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It can be so frustrating to be seen as arrogant when you are just sharing your work or if you excel at something. I wonder if there would be a way to notice the judgment but not let it stop us. Thanks karendee57.

      1. karendee57 Avatar

        yes. working on that.