How To Appreciate Your Quirky Traits While You Are Still Young-ish

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t own a table cloth or a lawn mower. I don’t like sunny days. I don’t finish one book before I start another. I would rather be single than live with someone who smells like garlic. I spend my hard-earned money on therapy, acupuncture, hair gel, and books I don’t read. I have more fun when I am blogging and consulting than when I am camping. I sing show tunes in the shower.

In my old-ish age, I am more comfortable than ever with who I am and who I am not. It is such a relief. I want you all to try it. You do not have to wait until you are old-ish. In fact, the sooner the better.

If you have a rainforest mind, there might be many things you put in the quirky category that are actually signs you are gifted. Here are some possibilities. How many fit for you?

~You are easily overwhelmed by sad stories, buzzing florescent lights, strong smells, angry people on social media, and your own thoughts and emotions.

~ You would rather read a good book than go to the holiday party.

~ You see how everything is connected.

~ You avoid working really hard at achieving something because if you do work hard and are not successful (whatever that means), it will be clear you are not as smart as everyone says, and that would be intolerable.

~ You can not explain how you got the answer.

~ You find people who are slower thinkers ( I might call them underthinkers) really annoying although you usually blame yourself for your lack of clear communication. Or you overthink their underthinking.

~ You fear mediocrity, failure, boredom, and being found out as an impostor, (almost) more than you fear a pandemic.

~ You are crying a lot these days.

~ You have been told by therapists that you are so smart and articulate, you must not really be depressed, so you don’t really need therapy.

~ Your standards and expectations are quite high compared to your colleagues but you know how much higher your standards and expectations could go so you discount the value of your high standards and expectations.

~ You want to do everything. You want to learn everything. You want to know everything. Today.

~ You can’t find anyone who can keep up with your deep dives and long leaps.

~ You struggle making simple decisions. You struggle making difficult decisions.

~ Working at one job/career for years sounds like torture.

~ When learning something new does not come easily, you give up, quit, run away, and hope no one notices because you believe learning anything ought to be easy or you must be stupid.

~ Your definition of fun includes a new language or a new instrument or a new poem or a new documentary or a video on how brown algae removes carbon dioxide from the air and stores it in slime or all of the above.

~ You worry about overwhelming people with your enthusiasm, your grief, and your curiosity so you hide, shrink, and try to fit into the small, tight, stuffy basements that normal humanity provides.

~ You are connected to an invisible world of spiritual Love and Guidance that gives you hope for the future.

And so, my darlings, do you see? Are those quirky traits actually signs you are gifted? Can you get more comfy now with who you are and who you are not?

Yes? It is not too late! You are still young-ish.


To my bloggEEs: What are your other traits that appear to be quirks but are really signs of your rainforest mind? And, just so you know, my quirks listed above are not all signs of giftedness. For example, you might own a table cloth and a lawnmower, love sunny days, and eat a lot of garlic. You would still be gifted. OK?

Oh, and I will be presenting at this virtual conference in February along with several top notch speakers in the field of gifted children and adults. For more information go here. Join 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.

24 responses to “How To Appreciate Your Quirky Traits While You Are Still Young-ish”

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  1. Narita Avatar

    Ms. Paula Prober, nice to meet you, I always enjoy reading your blog. I am a Japanese who uses Broken English, so I wrote my comment with the help of a translator.

    I especially agree with the section “You are connected to an invisible world of spiritual Love and Guidance that gives you hope for the future.”.

    And if I had to name something about one of the odd signs as a characteristic of RFM, it might be “walking in cemeteries, temples, shrines, etc.”.

    Personally, I love the clean air and the nature and the birdsong. It might also be interesting as a preliminary inspection of a property I might live in in the future.

    Also, I’ve got a New Year’s resolution this year. I’m going to improve my English as much as possible. (Every year for the past 10 years)

    This is what I wanted to tell you the most. I am very happy to know Ms. Paula.

    I am looking forward to reading more of your wonderful articles.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, thank you for writing, Narita. Your message is clear. I appreciate hearing from you!

    2. Leah Avatar

      Paula, thank you for another beautiful post! And Narita, cemeteries are one of my favourite places to walk and spend time.

      1. pprober Avatar

        Always sweet to hear from you, Leah!

      2. Narita Avatar

        Paula and Leah, thanks for the replies.

        The serenity of the cemetery is very comforting. I often spend time on the benches by the side too, and then I noticed the similarity between the shape of the graves in Japan and the skyscrapers in the distance and felt a connection. haha

  2. Kory Avatar

    Love this post! And I love your blog – it has greatly helped me understand and appreciate myself and has truly helped me to be a better parent. One of my children without a doubt is gifted. At 11 years old, she is moderately fluent in American Sign Language, three musical instruments, well above average in the classroom, is fascinated with mythology, and hopes to be a linguistic anthropologist when she is older. Today, as we were riding in the car, she remarked out of the blue that she wished she could’ve visited the library in Nineveh and began discussing what that experience would have been like. My son is a more serious 8 year old, slower to think aloud than his older sister, analyzing and thinking through every aspect of a situation. He is highly sensitive and intuitive and is astonishingly good at understanding math and time and analyzing situations and problems. His way of interacting with the world holds many rainforest characteristics. Had I not started reading your blog years ago, I don’t know that I would have understood his traits and appreciated how his mind works.
    I love your work! Thank you for maintaining this blog year after year! Happy New Year!

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, thank you Kory. I still love the writing of these posts and the feedback is still much appreciated!

  3.  Avatar

    Somehow we’ve managed to survive the last few years of complex chaos that our species has created for all the incredible species on this beautiful planet. Glad we’re here to laugh about the quirkiness of learning to let ourselves just be ourselves. Infinite gratitude for guiding us all through these trying times, and all the years prior with every post, dear Paula. Your words bring healing and laughs, always.
    The list sounds so much like me and while I (yes, still) struggle with this RFM acceptance and all that it entails (the highs and those pesky lows) I am thankful to be part of a neat community through an online master’s in education. We are a small cohort scattered across the planet, probably a more interesting group of individuals with shared passions than if we were all living in the same city/region (statistically speaking). I was skeptical if online master’s programs could offer the same rigor as in-person ones and have learned that they can, and that most people are still aiming for mediocre and that there are also amazing folks who do strive to go deep, and who are happy to do one-on-one calls over hot beverages, as peers and friends, despite never having met face-to-face. It is quite remarkable. I’m still bored on most days, yes, but I choose to do more than required for assignments and it is paying off in terms of cerebral satisfaction, publication possibilities and GPA (handy for scholarship applications). The program makes me both despair for humanity and have immense hope as I can tailor it to what I want to focus on. I choose to learn about fascinating people doing the thoughtful, informed, layered work that will help humanity and all the non-humans through the climate, social, economic and educational crises.
    My ‘Christmas gift’ of sorts was hearing from the program director who lives across the ocean from the university that she will be visiting the campus the exact same week I was planning to go visit myself, just 9 weeks away! (Time to soak up the library viiibes and enjoy coffee deep dives with some brilliant people!). My holiday gift to myself was a 6-month commitment to the local yoga studio (to get through 6 months of snow and ice). The first 5 weeks revealed that my body-mind-spirit couldn’t benefit more from anything else. It is good to build strength and flexibility in a calming space with music and quiet people where talking is banned and respect for all beings and energies reigns.
    I returned to studying more Quechua a few days ago and it is a total blast. All of the points you listed above as ‘your definition of fun’ are actually activities I do for fun, so thanks for the validating list.
    Finally, immediate family, still, often is my biggest enemy/barrier. As I am currently visiting them, I am limiting the time and leaving the room/house often to avoid the unnecessary cruelty and shouting. Nonetheless, those people I have visited in this community where I grew up have been telling my parents that they see great things for my future…so even if my parents literally shrug off the compliments and apologize because their fiesty daughter ‘rambles too much’, others appreciate my passion for learning and commitment to equity. There is trauma in my family, but it still hurts sometimes that I’m denied the support and unconditional love that I see friends enjoying in the many places I have lived. Sigh… Not sure if my parents will keep telling me to be an accountant and stop learning more languages and instruments until they die, or maybe one day try to understand what makes me tick. I am learning to embrace my ‘chosen family’, and the reality that its members are increasingly scattered across Mother Earth. I will fend off the pleas to give birth to the next generation of my biological family and focus my limited years on what I actually want to do. Your wisdom will help me and countless others on our winding paths. Thank you. Fuertes abrazos a la distancia.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Wonderful to hear from you and get an update on your adventures. You are such a shining light, dear. I am so sorry your family still does not see who you are. It is their loss!! Big hugs back to you! <3

  4. Clignett Avatar

    Hah! Finally!! So happy to read this!

    I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions – I don’t do New Year, period. Its just another day to me. The last New Year I celebrated was 2000, because it was a millennial. Dressed up unrecognizable, had the time of my life. Now, at the age of young-ish, I feel I’ve seen it all, and prefer a normal day.

    I don’t own a table cloth or a lawn mower – I do own a tablecloth for protecting my table whenever I start a new creative project. After it’s gotta go! And I sold my lawn mower as I don’t have a lawn anymore – practical and such.

    I don’t like sunny days – hm.. well, I do actually. But not for a too long period. Love wearing my sunny glasses, though!
    On the other hand, I despise winter. Dark, depressed, not many nature things are alive and kicking then.

    I don’t finish one book before I start another – yep.. no other word needed.

    I would rather be single than live with someone who smells like garlic – hell yes!

    I spend my hard-earned money on therapy, acupuncture, hair gel, and books I don’t read – therapy, comfy stuff, dog, dog, dog, nailsalon (as it’s needed because I can no longer cut my nails due to vision/focus issues (still young-ish 🙈😅), books I really do want to read but never seem to have the peace and quiet within me to concentrate.. (again the young-ish thing – please humor me in this one 🤣).

    I have more fun when I am blogging and consulting than when I am camping – I can’t say anything about this one, I don’t blog (yet), and I do NOT camp.

    I sing show tunes in the shower – I have whole conversations in the shower with either myself or someone else, entirely in my mind, but still aloud. Could be in Dutch, could be in English. Any topic that comes to mind is good, any person that comes to mind is also good.

    As for all the “bulletpoints”: yes to all! Hm.. especially the “underthinkers” (I call them Muggles). That one really gets on my nerves, which make me feel guilty at the same time.

    And the one “I can’t explain how I know the answer, I just knów”. I can feel it rushing through my body, seeing it clearly. Of course, if you really need the steps behind my feeling (rationalization of feeling – some people are absolute that it needs to be “scientific”, I can provide you with that. If you have enough time to listen and enough imagination and willingness to really listen and take a leap of faith and trust my vision. In the end (sometimes I really do get to the end!), they have to agree. Is more of a vision/feeling/knowing at first, probably because my mind is going in all directions and seeing bumps along the way. This all within a fraction of a second. So, when I see a road that has lesser bumps, the easier bumps to overcome, that’s the road you need. Takes practice in patience to hear and explain it all, though. Muggles…

    Anyway, for those who do celebrate New Year, enjoy! And have a great start at this new year ahead of you, with health, wisdom and joyous moments! 🎊🎉🎆

    1. pprober Avatar

      Ha! Clignett, I didn’t expect anyone to compare their traits to mine! Those are just a few of my quirks, not actually indicating giftedness, in my case. 🙂

      1. Clignett Avatar

        Ohnoo, quirks don’t indicate any kind of giftedness. Mine neither! But I was so happy to read them, so relatable and so funny! I just couldn’t resist to write mine in answer to yours. Also, just a few of them 😅..

        As to the other things, I do recognize myself in them. Do they make me a gifted person? I don’t know, and I really don’t think so. But it’s nice to recognize oneself, isn’t it! ☺️

  5. itssue42 Avatar

    Yes, to ALL those things 😀
    You always help remind us that we are unique treasures and will benefit ourselves and the world if we appreciate ourselves just the way we are!
    Thank you so for all your wisdom

    1. itssue42 Avatar

      And the article on brown algae is another positive in the day!! If we can give the planet a chance, it will save us from ourselves.

      1. pprober Avatar

        I thought you might like the article, Sue!

    2. pprober Avatar


  6. hksounds Avatar

    Hi Paula,

    I thought I was quirky for being able to do the exact opposite of this one on your list: “You can not explain how you got the answer.”

    Oh yes, I can. It astonishes me regularly that others can’t. I’m not sure how it makes someone gifted to not be able to explain, while what I do isn’t?

    Happy Holidays!

    1. pprober Avatar

      Remember, Joy, these lists are not all inclusive! Some will apply, some will not. There are gifted folks who are highly intuitive. They often get “answers” without the steps or the data. You are twice exceptional, right? So you may be both intuitive but also highly logical, maybe linear-sequential. You are gifted for sure so, just pick the traits that fit and let go of the rest! Happy holidays to you, too.

  7. Elle. Avatar

    Funny. When I was reading this list, it reminded me that I need to do my daily online Spanish session so I stopped to get that done for the day and then came back to finish reading. I do that all the time. I am all over the place and yet, I still manage to get stuff done.

    I read this wonderful list and nod “yes, yes, yes to that, mmm-hmm yes to that too, oh totally, that’s me…”

    and so it goes.

    Maybe one more trait that my son pointed out recently: if I like something, say music, an book, or t.v. series, whatever and it becomes super popular I lose all interest in it and move on. I don’t like popular things, mainstream things. I don’t know if this is a rainforest thing,a hipster thing, or just being contrarian but it happens every time.

    1. pprober Avatar

      It’s probably all of the above, Elle! 🙂

  8. Mindy Avatar

    Love your blog, Paula. Another quirk: being the only one to choose an option out of multiple options given. I was once at a conference with about 500 people. The keynote speaker asked a question, “Would you rather A or B? Raise your hand for A.” Many, many people raised their hand. Then she said, “Raise your hand for B.” I put mine up, looked around this huge ballroom of attendees, and out of all 500 people, I was alone in raising my hand. With everyone staring at me with confusion. it was far from the first time this has happened. It used to really bother me and make me VERY uncomfortable to stand out like this. Now, I just shrug it off and own it.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Yes, Mindy! Own it!! 🙂

  9. Jennifer Avatar

    Discovering your blog this year has been really helpful Paula. It added a further dimension of understanding about myself beyond being introverted and a HSP. The intensity, the difficulties finding others who get you etc but also to really start appreciating myself in all my quirky glory! 😁 It helps seeing a role model for this in your journey too.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Thank you, Jennifer. Glad you are here!