Gifted In Lebanon

Candide is 22. She has been reading my blog for some time. She said it is one of her “favorite places.” Candide wrote to me to reach out to other rainforest minds for support. She is struggling. It sounds like both the country and her family are extremely challenging places to live, particularly as a sensitive soul.

She wrote about some of the daily assault on her senses.

“…The typical Lebanese citizen honks when stuck in a traffic jam…I dread the noise, the chaos, and the hostile competition that I have to face whenever I’m in a car…For the introverts among us, Lebanon is too much–too sunny, too hot, too noisy, too chatty. It’s not harmonious enough…” This does not include the explosions that she said are frequent, the economic distress, as well as her concerns for her safety.

Her issues in school will be familiar to many of you.

(photo by allef vinicius Unsplash)

“For most of the time I was top of my class. But I didn’t really enjoy it because I dread competition. So, at some point, I got tired and started self-sabotaging. I stopped taking notes in class because I was a perfectionist and had to ‘know it before I learned it.’ I was also too passionate, when everyone else, including teachers, only cared about standardized test scores.” She is an HSP and introvert, sensitive “to sound, light, smell, and taste.”

Living with so much sensitivity in a country in economic collapse and chaos, she feels overwhelmed with pain and loneliness.

“…I wonder if the solution is to get rid of my heart like it’s a dangerous tumor that grew too big. But is it even possible for RFMs to get rid of their heart?…”

No, Candide, it is not possible. And we are all grateful for your big heart. We want to support you in protecting and appreciating it.

I asked Candide what she looked to for hope. How she might protect her tender heart. She said, “…nature has a healing power.” She mentioned these three Lebanese activist women. Warde Bou Daher, Hiba Dandachli, Joumana Haddad and the writer/poet Khalil Gibran. And this blog. She has also found like-minds with INTPs online, Imi Lo’s writings on giftedness, and various researchers who study topics of interest to her curious mind. Even though access to the internet can be unreliable, it is a lifeline. Candide also told me she is planning to study Applied Data Science in the UK in the fall. Clearly, the power of her rainforest mind is what is getting her through.

I wonder what it is like for those of you living in countries, like Candide, where there is much upheaval, chaos, and economic distress. How do you manage when you are sensitive, empathetic, and driven to make a difference? How do you take care of yourself? Have you found activists and artists who give you hope and energy? Do you spend time in nature and connect via a spiritual practice? Are you finding other rainforest minds to be with, in person or online? Are you finding your own voice and joining with others to create a path(s) that is right for you?

Candide told me, Gibran says, “Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”

He may have been referring to partner love but, no matter. Let our big-hearted rainforest-y selves acknowledge and celebrate the strength that dwells in our capacity to love and to feel so very much in that moving sea. Our love is here for you, too, Candide, and for us all.


To my bloggEEs: I wrote this some time ago but Candide was not ready for me to post it. Now with the invasion of Ukraine, it seems timely, and she is willing. To all of you living in war zones, unsafe environments, and suffering in other ways, there may be no adequate words. But you are in our hearts. And, thank you, Candide, for your great courage and for sharing your story. (I’m sure she would appreciate any comments of support.)

(Note: For those of you in Spain, I just heard about this very active organization for the gifted. You might want to check into it.)

(Another note: If you have been thinking about writing to me about all forms of love, relationships, and your rainforest mind, there is no better time than the present. Send your inner procrastinating perfectionist out to lunch and write to me!)

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.

25 responses to “Gifted In Lebanon”

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  1. Artie Avatar

    For me living in Venezuela is like a huge yawning mouth swallowing me and all my will to give my best.

    I more or less realize that the real problem with my enviroment has been the lack of support and the loneliness that comes with it. I’ve been on my own for as long as I can remember but finding this place has been a huge help and a big change. I am still alone but I have found some kind of support and reassurance here. It still amazes me how much I can relate to each post and the experiences of other RFMs.

    I should say that I know what it is like to try to get rid of one’s heart and it is not the best choice.

    Also, the poem “On Marriage” is beautiful.

    “Sing and dance together and be joyous,
    but let each one of you be alone”

    At least for me it is hard to think that he’s only talking about marriage or romantic relationships. I took it as a realistic yet pure way of loving or feel love. “Enjoy and appreciate each other’s presence but respecting each other’s feelings, uniqueness and standing in this world” or something similar 🙂 Just my interpretation…

    I think the poem is holistically deep, so if I read it in another occasion maybe it will tell me something different. Anyways, thank you Paula and Candide for introducing this poem, I’ll keep it as an amulet for future reference and guidance.

    Best wishes to Candide. ❤️✌️

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      When I hear about Venezuela, it sounds like a country in quite a bit of turmoil, Artie. I imagine quite stressful for a highly sensitive soul. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Gifted In Serbia | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Some of the profiles have been from RFMs in Finland, Spain, Brazil, Malaysia, Belgium, Chile, Lebanon, Netherlands, Canada (via Cameroon), Portugal, Germany, and India. I would love to hear from those […]

  3. Someti Avatar

    It is so hard, sometimes… Thank you Candide for sharing your story though Paula’s blog. And thank you, Paula, for the link to that website! I’m going to check-it out right now. 🙂

    1. "Candide" Avatar

      Thank you… <3

  4. cmd1122 Avatar

    This is a beautiful post at a very turbulent time for so many. Thank you Candide for sharing so much and allowing your story to be shared, and Paula for capturing so much. And thanks for the re-reminder to send “[my] inner procrastinating perfectionist” to write you with thoughts about all forms of love. There are indeed so many.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Looking forward to reading your thoughts, cmd1122.

    2. "Candide" Avatar


  5. clignett Avatar

    Sorry, “tiny 11 year old” should be “tiny 4 year old” 🙈
    And of course at that age I had no clue of HSP nor RFM.. just that all sensories were completely overloaded and my mind was going in all directions. So, that’s an advantage for Candide, she already has that going for her!
    Sending love! 🥰

    1. "Candide" Avatar

      Noted, thank you <3
      By the way, I just remembered that Lebanon is the second-least happy country in the world, according to the latest World Happiness Report (published by the UN). Surreal!

  6. clignett Avatar

    Dear Candide,

    I’m happy for you that you are going to the UK in the fall, and get a great education which will undoubtably bring you to other roads and choices that you can’t even imagine now.

    As thespians1 already mentioned, try to prepare yourself for the transition to another country, with many different habits, and it’s own challenges. I’ve grown up as an expat child, and although I’m Dutch by birth, living in the Netherlands now (that’s just the way my life turned out to be), I know what it feels like to leave “your country” behind. I have lived in many countries, but still.. Mine was Brazil. I was 4 when I set foot on the airport tairmac (Sao Paulo) and instantly felt at home. When I was 11 we returned to Brazil (from Belgium), I actually cried with happy tears to be back! This time it was Rio de Janeiro’s airport tarmac. And yes, Brazil is loud, full, dangerous, but the love I felt, the homecoming, it was overwhelming. Even the smells, the sounds, the samba, the parades. From afar I could watch them and enjoy them. Too dangerous for a gringa to mix in, although I probably wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes.

    And the nature, oh my god, the nature! Heaven!! ❤️‍🔥❤️

    Downside is that I was not prepared, as a tiny 11 year old with green eyes and sunkissed blond/ginger long hair.. When I was in a store, everyone had to touch my hair.. as an HSP and a RFM, this meant a constant invasion on my energy (and privacy) as I take theirs spontaneously, especially back then (hadn’t learnt how to control or ground myself yet). So I got sick, fever running high, hallucinating, really bad. The only time I could sleep was in my fathers arms. That was the time that he taught me to stay in my own energy, to block the energies of others, at least until I would be back on my feet. And when that happened, be picky. Not everyone deserves your energy, nor your abilities. Lifelesson to live by, every day. Nowadays, I stil miss Brazil, it’s a part of me, a part of my heart which I left there..,

    Anyway, what I’m preparing you for is the happy event that you will be following your dream, but there are consequences emotionally (and maybe physically).
    Try to connect on beforehand with RFM’s in London, or places nearby. And, please, do not hesitate to ask for help to make the transition easier. It’s no small feat!
    Sending you love, strength and wisdom on all fronts! And a big hug and happy wiggling tails from Indie (my adorable Beagle)! ❤️😘

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Nice to get to know more about you, clignett! We have many Brazilian readers here who will likely appreciate your love of their country. Thank you for your helpful tips.

    2. "Candide" Avatar

      Oh hi; <3
      Thank you for your concerns, but don't worry. I happen to be very similar to Northern Europeans in my introversion and irreligiousness. I've also spent 6 years outside of Lebanon as a child. The happiest years of my life… 🙂

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        I can’t wait to hear about how you thrive in the UK, Candide. Be sure to keep in touch and let us know!

        1. "Candide" Avatar

          Thank you again… <3

  7. thespians1 Avatar

    I am of Lebanese descent and visited Beirut 5 years ago with hopes of discovering what village my grandfather was born in and what my real name is as his name was changed at entrance to the US. I am very proud of my heritage.
    Yes, the traffic is chaotic beyond description with drivers who have no fear. Here in the US, I am hyper sensitive to driving situations however while I was there I was able to trust my drivers even when they passed on a dangerous curve.

    Although it was a business trip, the host is now a close friend. The others in the group were so loving and caring to me and I for sure left a piece of my heart there. As I crossed through customs upon entry, I welled with tears and sobbed as I left.

    When I speak to my friend now she tells me it is difficult to have conversations with others because there is nothing happy to talk about. All of the people I met while I was there had been greatly affected by the civil war and were frustrated and angry with the current corrupt government. My friend and her husband are health care professionals, yet they have very little money.

    I can understand that life is difficult for Candide and it is great that she will be going to the UK. However, I believe the culture of the country makes it very difficult to be away from your family. The AL center my friend manages is the first in the country because it is considered shameful to “put” your parents in a “nursing home.” That belief is so much more intense than here in the US.

    I offer the suggestion that she prepare herself well for the emotions she may feel as she lives a life away from her family and her country. I am second generation American, yet I experienced such a strong sense of belonging in Lebanon while I was there. Perhaps there are Lebanese organizations in the UK that she can connect with to have conversations in preparation for the transition.

    Gibran words are wise and I hope that they will be true for her as she leaves a country that she may not realize has what I believe to be a powerful and beautiful grip on our souls.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, thespians1for sensitively sharing your own experiences in Lebanon.

    2. "Candide" Avatar

      Hello and thank you for your comment <3
      I happen to have a dysfunctional family and I've lived outside of Lebanon for 6 years as a child, so, trust me, I'm leaving and not looking back 😉
      I'm also a non-religious introverted HSP, a.k.a. an outcast here in Lebanon. Northern Europe is a better fit 🙂

    3. "Candide" Avatar

      “The AL center my friend manages is the first in the country because it is considered shameful to “put” your parents in a “nursing home.” That belief is so much more intense than here in the US.” Very true! Lebanon is a shame-based culture on the guilt-shame-fear spectrum of cultures. Dysfunctional families are relatively common here. The expectations on adult children are very high. I, for example, am considered a “traitor” for considering immigration because I would be “leaving my parents behind”, especially as a woman (they think women are the default caretakers).
      I’ve been considering the childfree lifestyle and when I told my grandmother, who is very ill and being taken care of by her daughters 24/7, she told me I should have children to take care of me when I’m old.
      My childfree neighbour died alone; her family barely took care of her because she didn’t have children of her own.
      Mothers are glorified by their children in Middle Eastern cultures. One of my university professors, who studied in Canada, heavily criticised the way the elderly are “put” in nursing homes.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        This is such a complex issue, Candide, and everyone. Aging. Are children supposed to take care of their aging parents? What is the role for the adult child? Depending on the culture, there are particular expectations. Right? It’s interesting because I think about this now for myself. I never had children as a choice to be childfree and now as I age I wonder how that will unfold. I do my best to stay healthy and independent and I have nourished a close group of supportive friends. I am also single right now. So, these are questions that hit close to home.

        1. "Candide" Avatar

          I’m sorry if my words made anyone feel uncomfortable – wether in this comment or my other comments.

          About the “childfree” question… I, myself, oscillate between antinatalism and its opposite. I respect all positions.

  8. Georgia O'Brien Patrick Avatar
    Georgia O’Brien Patrick

    Thank you for identifying the CIVIT International Project. I read all they have posted so far on their site. Their emphasis seems to be on education and the 2 to 18-year-olds. Their history story does not have dates, so it’s hard to know if they are a startup this year or established for a longer time. Impressive is that many (not all) pages of their website are in five languages, although their emphasis is on countries and cultures where Spanish is the dominant language.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Georgia. I haven’t explored the organization myself. A therapist friend of mine participated in their latest conference and recommended them.

      1. K Avatar

        Thank you for sharing, Candide.
        I am also 22, and I grew up in the people’s republic of China (I prefer to call it “PRC” instead of “China”). I personally find it incredibly difficult to keep living in the PRC after knowing the truth about the regime. I feel morally obligated to share the truth or speak out, but doing so will put myself and my family’s lives in danger. Almost anyone who openly expresses dissent toward the regime is either in prison or in exile. The country is not going through war, but a totalitarian high-tech dystopia is horrible in a whole other way.
        I think the best option for me is to move. It doesn’t solve everything, but at least I don’t have to be paranoid and scared all the time. Living in a panopticon drives me a bit crazy.

        1. pprober Avatar

          Good to hear from you, K. I am glad you are here. Thank you for sharing!