When You Are Highly Gifted, Is The World Ready For You?

It may be true. The world may not be ready for the most gifted among us. The world, more specifically, the people of the world, may look at you with wonder or amazement, confusion, fear, or derision. None of those looks are particularly desirable. They are not looks of understanding, appreciation, enthusiasm, or love. Not looks of connection.

The world may not be ready for your gorgeous “mind palace.” Your in-depth analyses. Your astonishing creations. Your extraordinary empathy. Your mystical intuitions. Your endless curiosity. Your dedication to justice. Your “completions of De Quincey’s lost Suspiria.”

The world may not be ready for you.

But, don’t let that stop you.

I know. Easy for me to say. The world has found me reasonably acceptable. After all, I have not discovered “new results in complexity theory” or learned my seventh language, or gone to grad school while having a full-time job and a three-year-old. I did not study advanced calculus when I was twelve or become a medical intuitive after high school. You might say I have a heart palace but a mind gymnasium.

But I know you. And, it is my job to help you be you. Because, well, this world is a mess. And you are here for a reason. You know I’m right.

Now, don’t go all freaked out on me. I am not saying you need to become a CEO for some dastardly corporation, make gobs of money, and reach your great potential. I am saying you need to find out who you are, unleash that person, and become the one you are here to be.

I realize that is easier said than done. I realize that one sticky part might be the loneliness that can come with shining your light. Some people will be blinded by it and turn away. But some people will be fascinated, put on their cool shades if needed, and join your fan club love you. I mean it. And, yes, I also know you have to choose your people carefully. Be selective. And hide out when you need to. You may need therapy. You may need to read my books! You may need to get a dog and an emotional support sweater.

Have I convinced you yet?

Take your time. Think about it.

You may worry that “if the world saw inside, it would rightly conclude I was an alien and fire me into space.”

But you know I am in your head. Many of you have told me so. I have seen your insides. And what I see is, well, magnificent. You can trust me on that.

So, the world may not think it is ready for you. You may not think you are ready for the world.

Don’t let that stop you.


To my bloggEEs: Do you worry about this? Tell us about it. Tell us about your mind palace. All of the wonderful quotes above are from this recent lovely blog comment:

“… The upshot is a whole mind palace filled with gorgeous fractals — an alternative to bitcoin, two pop science books, a way to make balls roll uphill, a quantum programming language, new results in complexity theory, a poetry chapbook, Latin philosophical translations, completions of De Quincey’s lost Suspiria, a method of artificially dreaming, and so on — which I cannot bring myself to unleash, not only on the world but on myself. They sit there, gathering dust on easels and drafting tables, in long corridors lined with the mahogany cabinets of imagination, abandoned for fear that they are too much. That I am too much… That the world isn’t ready for me… That if the world saw inside, it would rightly conclude I was an alien and fire me into space.”

By the way, if you are looking for more help unleashing yourself, my third book is in the works. It is a guided journal/workbook. Are you ready for the title? Saving Your Rainforest Mind–The Workbook. (Subtitle: For the Exceedingly Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive Seeking Self-Understanding, Purpose, & a Peaceful World.) It ought to be available later this summer. I’ll let you 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.

31 responses to “When You Are Highly Gifted, Is The World Ready For You?”

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  1. David Avatar

    Thank you Paula! This is such a humbling and generous post. Also wise:

    “I am saying you need to find out who you are, unleash that person, and become the one you are here to be.”

    The one I am here to be. Dang. Talk about existentially loaded! But this seems like the right way to think about potential; not a PhD, a six-figure salary, or a MacArthur fellowship. So often, expectations of worldly success are hung like a dead albatross around the neck of the cognitively special, when what we really need is permission to become ourselves in unencumbered weirdness. My favourite aliens — the ones I’ve learned most from — are gloriously, heroically, and unapologetically weird.

    It’s a lonely venture. I’m desperately trying to self-generate that permission right now; the effect is not dissimilar to yanking my own bootstraps. It’s clear I need to go into the world and find a few more people willing to mingle their light with mine, and perhaps, if the occasion suits, take a turn about the mind palace.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, David. Go and read my most recent post and you will find me, “gloriously, heroically, and unapologetically weird,” if I do say so myself!

      1. Ciera Avatar

        Paula and David…you two have me laughing very hard right now. And I see where the quote on Paula’s most recent post came from.
        Thanks for the laugh. I needed it as I sit here taking myself too seriously, once again, ha.

        1. pprober Avatar

          There is a time to take oneself seriously, Ciera. And a time to laugh very hard! 🙂

          1. David Avatar

            Thanks Ciera! And Paula, I agree. Oscar Wilde once said: life is too important to be taken seriously. We might add: at least, all the time!

  2. Neeraj Avatar

    “what if the world is not ready for you?!!”…: I think the world is always ready for us, at the same time it is never ready for us and it takes time to make it ready. These two polarities exist together. Thus one needs to be prepared/alert ( ready !) for the readiness of the world….as this can happen any moment anytime ( we should be able to understand/ appreciate and seize the important moments in our lives) ….at the same time one has to go on walking the steps slowly for the eventual readiness of the world…
    As this is about OUTSIDE so is inside…are we going to be HEALED/ feel liberated/ feel ARRIVED…today? or are we going to feel SO..sometime in the distant future after going through a long arduous journey internally? Both polarities exist TOGETHER.
    Everything is possible HERE and NOW…at the same time everything takes effort/ discipline / walking the walk….
    Transformations have these two polarities inherent in them I feel, transformations (internal and external) take time, and they are SUDDEN as well…
    It is better to wait, it is better to show patience…but it is also better to seize the moments……and make things happen.
    These are my few cents on the subject.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Ah, yes, the polarities! The contradictions! Life in the rainforest mind. Thank you, Neeraj.

    2. Ciera Avatar

      I love these thoughts you kindly shared, Neeraj. Yes, all these things do indeed exist simultaneously, together, which makes life all the more complicated and also beautiful. That effort, discipline and walking the walk…yes…and those transformations taking time and also being sudden…oh, yes, indeed.

  3. hksounds Avatar

    I am sure the answer to your title question is “no.” I have 78 years of experience to back up that opinion.

    When it comes to books, a couple of months ago, my therapist, who works with gifted, urged me to write my memoir/autobiography. He said people needed to hear my story. Wow! But charting that is daunting and has innumerable diversions, bifurcations, and parallel paths that meander and divert from what anyone might consider a lucid description. It seems impossible to write it in any linear or standard way. The content isn’t and neither is the way I am putting it down. It is a fascinating exercise and has brought me new information and insights, and I have “only just begun.” It is hard work and a struggle, but it might be a worthwhile endeavor for any of the other Rainforest Minds to attempt.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, Joy, writing your memoir sounds exciting and, yes, worthwhile. Of course, it wouldn’t be “standard.” 🙂

  4. pprober Avatar

    OK. Rethinking the title for book 3. I definitely will use Saving Your Rainforest Mind. But what comes after?? Now I’m thinking I won’t use Workbook or that long description. What do you think of: A Guided Journal for the Exceedingly Curious, Creative, Smart, and Sensitive. Short. Simple. Does it say enough? If you did not know me, would you pick it up? Is “workbook” better? 🙂

    1. Marina Avatar

      Excellent title, Paula, and it says just enough to dram my attention! Yes, I would definitely get curious and buy your book. No Workbook nowhere, please – at least I am sick and tired of all those coaches and psychologists that write workbooks, guides and manuals that I never have time to work with because my mind races at 250km/hour, trying to capture all the interesting things out there. And really, working with a workbook is sooooo boring, and much too slow (lol!).

      1. Marina Avatar

        Sorry, I meant “draw my attention”!

      2. pprober Avatar

        Ah, thanks for the feedback, Marina!

  5. Lexie Avatar

    I often feel I’m too much for those around me especially now in these crazy times we are living through. The silver lining for me is at 60, I’m finally at home with myself, have peace of mind, and appreciate and love my rainforest mind. Looking forward to the release of your workbook.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Yes, Lexie, it helps to get older! Will keep everyone informed about the progress of the workbook.

      1. Marina Avatar

        What?! No, getting older does not help! But well, I’m happy that somebody finds peace of mind, so there’s still hope for me (I’ll be 60 very soon)!

  6. Elizabeth Williams Avatar
    Elizabeth Williams

    Well, I guess it’s time go Google “what is complexity theory”!!!
    This is something I definitely need to know. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but a way to “artificially dream” is something I would sign up for in a heartbeat!

    1. pprober Avatar

      🙂 Thanks, Elizabeth.

  7. Craig Callewaert Avatar
    Craig Callewaert

    Hi Paula, timely and relevant as always. Thanks for the reminder of the difficult world we live in, and of the incredible gift of the rainforest mind. I was thinking just this morning, as I am looking for a new job (again!), how much of that rainforest I’d give away to be ‘normal’. I have so many gifts to share, there are so many problems to solve, and so little time to do it. And now I am spending that time looking for a job. When will the world be ready? How much do I have to change to fit in?
    Thanks to you, I know the answer: Never and none! Never will the world be ready, and I can’t wait. The time is now, and the world is as it is. To wait is to delay, and how long to wait, until it’s perfect? That will never happen, so take on the world as it is, and forget about ‘ready’, ‘acceptance’, and other compromising terms. Never will the world be ready, let’s take it on today!
    None of my rainforest will I ever give up. In fact, I seek to grow it every day with every class I take and interest I pursue. Nothing have I ever learned have I thought I could do without.
    Never and None! Never will the world be ready, take it on today anyways. None of my rainforest should ever be given up, I seek to grow more each day.

    1. pprober Avatar

      You go, Craig! Yeah!

    2. Stormy Avatar

      Craig, I was in the same situation recently. It took me longer, and more reading through the archives here, and more contemplation to reach those conclusions. But – I did find a new job! And it even said right in the job description that they were looking for someone who loves learning new things all the time! And they were having trouble finding someone who fit, until I showed up! It was not easy to find a good match. But it was much more comfortable than trying to squeeze my fractally self into a a smooth, neat box.

      1. pprober Avatar

        Oh, congratulations, Stormy, on finding that job! Thank you for sharing.

  8.  Avatar

    Oh, Paula. You did it again…you are always in my heart and head, ha. Love that.
    After teaching all morning on Wednesday, I went on a last-minute invitation 28-hour work trip up north about helping see what needs to be done to create a new location of the music NGO program in my province here in Canada. I returned at 4pm yesterday…exhausted. Part of that trip was a 1h15m video call yesterday in my hotel room (after a networking breakfast) with an amazing first-gen, immigrant professor from my MEd who has worked her way up to PhDlandia and is doing what she loves. And on Tuesday night at 10:30pm I was accepted to present at a bilingual ed conference in the US on Mar 11, the first ‘post’-COVID version of the annual conference. And then on that call with my prof, I was invited to lead a closing music/movement activity with the maybe 200 people who stick around after the regular workshops. And apparently I have a solid job offer in this little francophone village of 4000 people I visited with the music program NGO I already work for… (deep breaths…I went to yoga from 6-7pm, had dinner and slept like a rock.)
    Friday, this morning in Job #1 of the day, I have no (teacher) ‘prep’ blocks and Fridays start with my busiest and largest Grade 3-8 French class, then K-2 Arts (visual+music), then 3-5 Arts. At 9:30am during my first class, I find out the CBC national radio/TV (francophone division) is upstairs filming and will be showing up to my classroom momentarily. I had NO idea, no one told me. So anyways, all flowed beautifully and the kids and their curiosities and creativity were captured for about 1h of footage on awesomely fancy quality cameras. But a little warning would have been helpful, ha. I looked so tired after 5 days of insane busyness. The camera folks were very friendly and I chatted in French with one of them afterwards; turns out, he is from Tunisia and speaks 5 languages and then he started explaining the meaning of the first names of the Arabic-speaking students I have at this school…such beautifully poetic and powerful names. I don’t know Arabic yet, but he noticed the one word I wrote on a paper and stuck to the wall behind my desk: salam (peace; like shalom, peace in Hebrew; both are used to say hello).
    So now it is 1:28pm and I just got off a short Q&A call with Canada’s best education faculty about maybe doing a PhD and I am like…hmmm…I have to be at my next job in 17 minutes. I better get there and find some lunch on my way, ha.
    This month is a funny one. Every January is, but this is a spectacular one. Paula, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support over the long, complicated years from when I was 26 and found your blog after my first summer of full-time school teaching. 32 is shaping up to be another complicated and creative year; I don’t know where I am going, but I sure have a better idea than I did at 26. This blog continues to be a lifeline to all sorts of brilliant folks scattered all over, even if I rarely comment anymore.
    I love you all in a simple, yet complex, RFM-kind of way. Wishing you a beautiful chunk of time/year ahead, regardless of the calendar you follow (Gregorian, Lunar, etc.). Best of luck to you all in your many, multilingual, artistic, scientific, nature-filled… winding paths from peaceful, snowy, sunny Atlantic Canada. <3

    1. pprober Avatar

      Of course, I was thinking of you as I was writing this. Notice the “get a dog” part… 🙂

  9. Taylor Rose Avatar
    Taylor Rose

    This resonates so deeply! Thank you. To fully embody one’s greatest potential, take action, and share it with the world requires courage. It is such a winding journey with many fragments that need to coalesce. For me personally, I have needed to take my time in figuring out how the many seemingly disparate fragments fit together in a way that both honors me and serves the greater good. Having validation and support is much needed and much appreciated!

    1. pprober Avatar

      Good to see you here, Taylor! And thank you for your courage.

  10. Meredith Avatar

    Thank you for this, Paula! I tend to think I am normal, and everyone else is like an alien. I think I could be a lot less frustrated if I could just accept what “normal” is!

    1. pprober Avatar

      You’re welcome, Meredith. Yes, what is normal? What is alien? Good questions!

      1. Stephanie S Tolan Avatar
        Stephanie S Tolan

        I just read through these responses and realized that very, very many rainforest minds do not “know what normal is,” and might have trouble understanding how to put their own minds to good use in the messed up world we live in. We might want to “save the world,” but that is not possible. Consider that there might be many “worlds” within human experience, and find a way to follow one’s heart as well as one’s head.

        1. pprober Avatar

          Ah, yes, Stephanie. Following your heart is always good advice. And the many worlds…are you referring to the nonordinary reality, as in shamanic cultures, or what’s called the invisible more spiritual world? Many RFMs connect with these realms! I have read some of your work, so I know you do, too. Thanks for being here.

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