Being “gifted” is not always a gift

A few friends posted a link to this article about the dark side of being “gifted” and I’m really glad they did. It reminded me of the things I went through in and out of school as a “gifted”, or as they put it back when I was in school, “Academically Talented”.

I wrote a response on my Facebook that I’m going to share here because the article hit me really hard as I remembered what I had gone through as a child labeled as “too smart for my own good.”

“Gifted kids need a place where they can feel safe and accepted for all their various intensities. A place where they can be themselves, quirks and all.”

YES. I was lucky enough to be in AT (Academically Talented) in grade school and some advanced classes in my first high school. Of course, it wasn’t fun to have my dad’s girlfriend at the time call me “ET” because she said I might be smart but I lacked common sense and frequently made fun of all the ways I was “dumb”.

In the beginning of sophomore year, I switched high schools because of difficulties at home. My new high school was not safe, I was bullied constantly, and I fell into depression and anxiety worse than ever. The child psychology team decided to label me as truant, antisocial, and of sub-par intelligence. They wanted to put me on anti-depressants and my mom told them to go fuck themselves. I’m still grateful for that, because without her pushing for me, I wouldn’t’ve been diagnosed with severe hypothyrodism.

I never thought I’d drop out of high school, but after crying and begging my mom to sign me out, she finally did when she saw what they were doing to me and how they were treating me. But she made me promise I’d at least get my GED and Associate’s Degree. So I went to Youth Corps, a job training corps designed to help people study for their GED and also get job training. When you join, they give you a practice GED so you they know what you have to study. I aced it and so they asked me to tutor everyone else instead of studying. When I took the test, even though my mom’s car had no heat and it was the dead of winter, we covered ourselves in blankets (we joked and said we were on a sleigh ride) and went. Her car literally died on the way to testing site (we had to push it into a parking spot), and I still managed to come in second in the state on my GED.

Also, not only did I get my Associate’s, I got into the Honor’s Society of Community Colleges and then got an honor’s scholarship to get my Bachelor’s. Which, two years later, I also earned.

So fuck my dad’s then-girlfriend, fuck the high school I went to that I dropped out of, and dear god am I grateful for all the people who understand that “gifted” doesn’t always mean you have an easy life, or that you feel safe in spaces so many other people do, or that you have the same emotional and mental sensibilities as others. Thank the universe for people who are now understanding introversion is not antisocial, that mental health issues like anxiety and depression can’t be shamed out of you or told to just “stop”, and that high intelligence scores and a love of words doesn’t mean you’re a “know-it-all who thinks they’re better than everyone by using $5 words.” (All examples various people have tried to do or say to me at some point in my life.)

There are a lot of quirks. There are a lot of difficulties. Bless this article and all the gifted people out there, whatever your gifts are. May you learn how to use them best to your advantage and find a tribe who will support the gloriousness that is you.

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