A Gifted Woman From India

photo courtesy of Viktor Forgacs, Unsplash

Anu did not think she was smart. She did not excel in mathematics. In India, where she grew up, the gifted ones were the math stars. If you loved music, art, theatre, and literature, like Anu did, you were not considered particularly intelligent, much less gifted. If you were restless, highly imaginative, sensitive, and curious, like Anu, you were told to quiet down and calm down. Anu was punished and insulted by educators. She said, “School was a nightmare.” Even though Anu loved classical dance, singing, reading, and poetry, even though she was a curious, avid reader, this was not enough for her teachers.

Anu wrote: “I have observed in India intelligence is always acknowledged with accomplishments. Anything less than an engineer or doctor is considered low. Comparing your kids’ grades with your neighbor’s kids is a common practice and shaming you if your grades are lower. Nobody tries to understand there are kids who may not be able to thrive in the rote education method, but want it presented in a more interactive, fun, interesting way, as they have a more beautiful and passionate inner world…a beautiful bird or a sunset can evoke a thousand emotions and colors in our brain. We can get excited over things that don’t even make sense to others, but we are not overdramatic. We love life and this world more than anyone can imagine…” 

Anu came to N. America from India when she was 26. She is now 39, in an arranged marriage with two children and a Masters degree in microbiology. She found my blog and books five years ago and said she “found solace in that there are people who think and feel like me. I can live my life without shame and guilt…” It has been a long journey for her to find self-acceptance and to understand that she does, indeed, have a rainforest mind. 

“It took me so many years to realize that I do like to study. In my 30’s, I have been spending time learning anthropology, neurobiology, and studying Egyptian and Indian history…If I could have had this interest sparked in me many years back, my life would not have turned out like this and I could have had a career that is lined with passion…In spite of my passions being subdued by the society, I have lived life happily and spread my compassion and passion into my family. I have pursued reading, studying, dancing, and singing at an age where it may not make me a career, but at least keeps your inner world happy and engaged.”

I told Anu she has many years left to create a career that is fulfilling, if that is a goal of hers. I told her that the rainforest-minded often explore many lifestyles, including parenting, partnering, and multiple jobs/careers, hobbies, and interests over their lifespans. Just in case she felt too old, I reminded her that my blogging career began when I was, oh, 62.

You are not alone, Anu. Keep appreciating your imaginative, passionate, colorful inner world. Your rainforest mind clan is here, dancing and singing with you.

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To my bloggEEs: Let us know if you have had experiences similar to Anu. Tell us where you live and what the school system was like in your country. How did you find out about your rainforest mind? Did you find your path(s) later in life? Thank you, as always, for your sensitive comments and for your open hearts. And many thanks to Anu for sharing your story with us.


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Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label “gifted” is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rainforest to describe this population. Like the rainforest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They’re also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I’ve been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore. 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, was released in June 2019.

6 responses to “A Gifted Woman From India”

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  1. carolineb69 Avatar
    carolineb69

    I am French… I hated school so much until college. I believed everything was boring in school while I spent all my free time reading wonderful books. Later I realized that everything is interesting and got passionnate about all these things that school had tried to teach me. We have an epidemic of kids and teenagers being phobic about school, therapists are full, so I guess it is even worse than in my days and it makes me sad. But fortunately we have the Internet now to discover enternaining ways of learning about so many topics…


    1. CecileN Avatar
      CecileN

      Caroline,
      je suis francaise aussi. And I was married to an Indian man. The schooling systems have strong similarities in their drive for excellence, gold yardstick on sciences, and heavy memorization. Both countries have world-respected engineering schools.

      Besides that though, Indian society can be SO MUCH HARSHER. Anu, I am so glad you found your path and self-compassion over time, and, like Paula said, there is ample time left. As a gifted you may get curious about this article on Late Bloomers (and the research behind), on how different types of intelligences basically mature (and peak) differently.

      https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:8I7OkMqXbVQJ:https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/10/20/late-bloomers-malcolm-gladwell+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us


      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Merci, CecileN. That was a good article! Good to hear from you.


    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I have heard stories for years about how experiences in schools here in the US have been disappointing or worse for gifted kids. We don’t have the same strict punishing behaviors, though, that Anu experienced in India. Of course, now with the pandemic, it has been extraordinarily stressful on teachers. I hope that once the pandemic is over or contained, we can continue to advocate for improving the education system for these children. Merci, Caroline.


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