Friday, August 05, 2011

Second Follow-up to International Conference on Gifted Adults

I have been pondering the talk on the stages of life of gifted adults.  I have the notes somewhere, but I am not going to look them up right now, because what I want to talk about is the problem of getting stuck in a stage.

Background:  When my husband and I were first married, he was in grad school, working on a Ph. D.  I got a job as a secretary for a brokerage firm, and later as an assistant teacher in a private school.  We put off having children until he could finish his Ph. D. and we would have a bit more established home.  After he finished grad school, we moved to the mid-West, and we both started our careers.  We had been married for about 5 years, when we decided we would start a family.  But it was much more difficult than the horror stories of unplanned pregnancies back in high school would have had us believe.  I won't detail all of the problems and heartbreak of infertility, but the relevant thing is that we were in the stage of our lives where we wanted to have children and we were unable to do so.  Life went on, but I felt like I was stuck in the stage of trying to establish a family and I couldn't progress further in my life, until this issue had been resolved.  It was such an important stage of life for me, that I simply couldn't move on with any other aspect of my life, until I had reached closure with this stage.  Eventually, after 7 1/2 years, we did get pregnant and we eventually had two daughters.

But the key thing I want to emphasize here is that my progress as a person was stymied by the years of infertility.  It effected every aspect of my life at that time.  And, now, I feel caught in another one of these stage of life traps.

Fast forward many years, our daughters are now grown and living on their own.  We moved to Alaska for my husband's work.  I, after spending some years as a teacher, a grad student, a computer programmer, a grad student (again), a computer support person, and a teacher (again), looked for a teaching job in Alaska.  Jobs were hard to get, but I subbed.  I even got a full time job for a semester, but had to resign with health issues.  The move to Alaska was to be for only one to six years, and, after six years, we moved, this time to Colorado.  Due to certification problems in moving states and the bad economy, once again, jobs are hard to get.  I am much older now, but again, I feel trapped in a stage of life BEFORE where I "should" be.  I should be settled in my work, feeling very accomplished and fulfilled.  Instead, due to changing jobs (and even careers) so often and moving, I am stuck in the stage where I am trying to establish myself and my personal effectiveness. 

And, now I am wondering what happens when a person gets stuck in a stage of life that really doesn't fit the actual age and maturity level of the person.  It is a different kind of asynchrony.  I don't think my experience is unique to gifted adults, just as the life stages mentioned at the conference are probably not completely unique to gifted adults, but I wonder if getting stuck in an asynchronous life stage is a different experience for a gifted adult.  Does it lead to more acute emotional sensitivity, more feelings of loss of self-worth, more depression?  I don't know, but I do know it gives me a stronger sense of what it must feel like to be an asynchronous child.  In a sense, a child's asynchrony goes in the opposite direction - they are "stuck" with interests and abilities AHEAD of their chronological years; I felt/feel stuck in stages BEHIND my chronological years.

Both are painful.

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