Monday, June 11, 2012

Gifted Awareness Blog Tour - Giftedness as an Adult

Hello, and welcome to those of you who are visiting the Gifted Awareness Blog Tour.

The Problems of Getting Stuck

A year ago, I attended the First International Conference on Gifted Adults.  I attended mostly because it was close by and because, well, I am a gifted adult.  I didn't expect to spend most of the conference crying.  And I want to apologize to the presenters for any discomfort I caused them.  You see, rather than follow the stages of adult giftedness that they outlined, I have periodically become stuck in a stage that I feel I should have already mastered.

I have searched my computer and the Internet in vain for a list of the stages of adult giftedness.  But I can recall some of my "stuck" times.  One of them came early.  When I graduated from college, I had just completed teacher certification and was ready to start teaching somewhere.  Only, that was a time of a massive oversupply of teachers.  It was very difficult for a newly minted teacher to find a job, so I took a job as a secretary.  STUCK doing something I really didn't want to do and which kept me from moving forward in my chosen field.  This was a time when I was "supposed" to be establishing myself in my chosen field and working toward competency.  I eventually found a job as an assistant teacher in a private school - not much money, but at least, a foot in the door.  Only then, we moved.

Feeling that perhaps I would be more employable with more background, I returned to college for a master's degree in education.  And I did, in fact, find a job teaching.  And then, we moved again - this time for just one year.  I eventually found a job, but it was only part time and I had to quit when we moved back.  This happened not only once, but a couple of times, following my husband's career moves.  STUCK and thwarted in establishing competency. 

Meanwhile, I went back to school again, this time for a master's degree in computer science - I had doubts about teaching and thought maybe I would be better as a computer person.  I got a job as a computer support person.

And then came my second major "STUCK" time.  I wanted children, but had trouble getting pregnant.  This was "supposed" to be the time for generative production, but it wasn't happening.

Seven years later, I eventually did have a baby, with a second one two years after that, but for those seven years, I felt STUCK and unable to progress as a person.

There have been other major STUCK times in my life: again, due to moving, losing and quitting jobs, changing fields of work entirely, and not being able to get a job in my chosen field, most recently due to age and massive cutbacks in education.  So I haven't exactly followed the standard trajectory of gifted adult development.  And, being STUCK is a critical stage of adult giftedness, in my experience.  It isn't like Dabrowski's positive disintegration and then moving to a higher level of development; it is almost the exact opposite.  I was ready to take on new challenges, but there seemed to be massive barriers in my way, barriers not of my own making, but rather external barriers.

Perhaps all of this is boringly normal, but it is one thing I think the conference didn't really address.  Is the experience of gifted adults significantly different from average adults when they are prevented from progressing through life's developmental stages, due to various factors?  Does Imposter Syndrome and self-doubt take over more than it should?  What are the mental health issues that need to be addressed with gifted adults who cannot, for whatever reason, go forward with life? 

And, there is one other issue that needs its own paragraph - multi-potentiality.  I have been fairly good at just about all of the things I have tried.  In some cases, I feel my STUCK times have been exacerbated by my ability to switch to a different field entirely.  Rather than continuing to develop as a teacher, I switched to computer science.  Rather than sticking with computer science, I studied biochemistry.  Rather than sticking to biochemistry, I returned to education.  Someone at the conference mentioned that he was told early on to be "a jack of all trades and a master of ONE" - an obvious change to the standard aphorism.  I wish I had been told that, but I doubt if my younger self would have listened.  Is it good advice?  I don't know.  I don't regret my diverse career paths.  I regret my lack of sufficient competence in any of them.  I wish I had had more guidance through the STUCK times.


  1. Thanks for your stimulating post. It reminds me of some comments by author Emilie Wapnick, who identifies herself and others as “multipotentialites”: "My resume reads like it belongs to ten different people. Music, film, web design, law, business, personal development, writing, dance, sexuality, education…" See more quotes in my Inner Entrepreneur post about her program The Renaissance Business system for the Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur

  2. Your post reminds me of why the New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week is so important. People ... parents ... need to be aware of the importance of identification and nurturing of gifted children.

  3. Hi Laura. Thank you so much for blogging for us again this year. Here is a little acknowledgement, by way of a photoquote: