(Flickr Creative Commons, original photo by, Tony Hisgett)
This might resonate more to those that feel they never quite lived up to what they knew was their potential. There are gifted individuals that are fortunate to live a life where their traits and talents have allowed them to flourish. They have their (very well deserved, hard earned and respected) paper degrees and their dream careers. Then there are those who are still struggling with where their traits and talents should have gotten them as an adult. The “other” gifted. The one who doesn’t have the paper degree and career to show for. Or maybe you do have a paper degree and a career to show for but it might be worthless to you and its not your dream career – you feel lost and frustrated. You’re the one who is still searching and striving to feel accepted and have worth in this world… I fit this description and this was written for those who feel like, the “other” gifted.
As someone who stumbled upon the label “gifted” through researching my daughters behavior, traits and characteristics, I’ve come to know that I fit this label. Up until the last 2 years, I didn’t even identify myself as being gifted. I went 28 years actually thinking I was kind of “below normal” in a way. I struggled and was rebellious in my k-12 schooling. I was a late bloomer in most of my studies except art. I never graduated with any type of degree. Coupled with unfortunate life circumstances, I felt like I was just getting by and on the search for who I was, what my life purpose was and what I was suppose to do. I knew I was smarter than what I’ve had to show for, but because I didn’t have anything to show for it, I felt like I was a failure… well maybe not a failure but I felt pretty insignificant. It’s a hard place to be when everyone kind of throws around degrees and schooling as merit… especially when they are in the medical or science field. When you say anything as a “nobody” to these people, quite often, they make it known that what you have to say is insignificant or has little to no merit. Even if you are right it doesn’t matter to them. This attitude is kind of understandable in this day and age. They do have a right to feel accomplished and prestigious about their well earned accomplishments.. but then again, I often think, just because someone paid a big chunk of change to read books and have lectures spoken to them, does it make that information that they paid for more lofty than what one could study if they were self educated? When self educated, does it make all the blood sweat and tears and the long hours of work you did solo any less meaningful? I’m not against accreditation and a paid education. I want to make that clear. I believe its necessary to take us further as a whole when there are standards and a structure in place. BUT there was a day when accreditation wasn’t around and science was budding with autodidacts like Leonardo da Vinci, Gregor Mendel (known as the “uneducated Monk” and “father of genetics”) and Thomas Edison. Some of these people bench marked the standards of today’s education and scientific philosophies. We have educational text books written around what these people discovered without them having any type of accreditation or paper degree in their field of study.
Like many children, I looked up to influential adults and aspired to be like them. I often envisioned myself to be like the famous nurse, Florence Nightingale. I also aspired to be like Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther (reformation of the church, Luther), and even Jesus Christ. I was drawn to most of these people because of their character and their out-of-the-box leader qualities. Some, for their autodidact abilities, their early academic “rebellion”, their ground breaking ideas and the way they changed and influenced the world in a positive way. As an adult, I’m far from where my childhood influences were in their lives. While they were honing their craft and pursuing their talents and aspirations, I was and am – all over the place. My k-12 schooling was a mess. In college I had to drop out due to the illness and loss of my beloved mother. I started my photography business just as I gave birth to my very intense, high-needs daughter. Shortly after, more children were added to the mix. I’m at the point where I can’t even keep my business afloat unless I neglect forging a relationship with my children – which I refuse to do. I’m still trying to figure out what I can and can’t handle now that I’m a mom of three young children. I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be. I was slightly depressed by this for a long while but as I’ve come into my own, I’ve learned to embrace myself, push forward and never give up. As I was going through the history of some great people that heavily impacted this world, I realized most of them didn’t even have their significant revolutionary break until their mid 30’s! This was in a time when life was much different than now. Most schooling ended in the 8th grade, college wasn’t required and most didn’t even attend college until they were MUCH older. The one characteristic that stood out for them was that despite the odds, circumstances and their early educational rebellion, they never stopped pursuing their dreams/ideas. They self educated. They were willing to break boundaries, challenge the system and think outside-the-box of their world’s norm. They didn’t let fear completely consume them. What others thought didn’t completely dictate their lives or get in the way of their accomplishments and their ground breaking ideas.
Fear, perfectionism and imposter syndrome…
For most of my life I denied myself as an artist because of imposter syndrome and perfectionism. Fear I’d be looked at as a copy cat or not really owning my own talents. It came so easy to me that I always discredited myself and pushed away from it. Then on the other hand my expectations were so high that things were not perfect enough and hindered me from moving forward. I didn’t think I was good enough even to my own standards. I basically derailed my own talents and caused my own setbacks. This led to fear of failure… which is an oxymoron! When you fear failure, you are consistently failing to thrive! Even as I write this blog, I feel I have to fight through confidence issues. I’m not an expert on the topic of gifted, in fact, I just stumbled upon the topic 2.5 years ago when my daughter was an infant. I never even “tested” IQ gifted. To some that throws my credibility out the window even though my very characteristics and traits fit everything in the gifted label. Now I’m starting a blog on gifted advocacy… Like who am I to even do this? But then again I ask, why not? Years ago, writing on something that I didn’t have a degree or expertise in would have stopped me dead in my tracks.. I’d also fear my age would take away from my credibility. Now that I have grown into my own, I feel that I can live up to what I write. I think living in a time when accreditation is huge in our society, it’s difficult not to feel insignificant without having a degree or something tangible to show for. As I have become older and wiser, it has become more apparent that some of the greatest never went to college. In fact, a lot self taught or apprenticed with mentors, honed their own craft and broke boundaries. This has been the biggest obstacle for me to get over.
I’m often reminded of famous autodidacts, Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo da Vinci, to name a few. They are now well renowned and respected. None had a formal degree. No Ivy league college plaque to distinguish these greats from the rest. The only thing that distinguished them was the fact that they were willing to educate themselves – they never stopped moving forward with their education and ideas – and their ideas and actions changed society and the world as it was known. Today, not having a degree is often looked upon as “not credible”. Especially if you are going to be an architect, scientist, or in the medical profession (though there are some exceptions). People are quick to look down on you if you do talk science or anything medically related if you never even went to an accredited college for it. I believe this is a huge reason why most who are natural autodidacts feel inadequate. If there is no accreditation behind their education, most feel they have no merits and they feel they don’t live up to the next who does have a paper degree. I have often felt this way but with time grew out of it. I have basically trained myself that I don’t need a 4 yr college to get to where I need to go.
Whether you have a degree or a dream career or not, I believe many can relate to this who are multipotentialites. While it can work to some people’s advantage, like Leonardo da Vinci, people like myself, can tend to feel kind of lost and hindered by it. Thanks to the internet, educational opportunities and new jobs are created more often now than ever from people breaking boundaries and thinking outside-the-box. I now realize the possibilities are endless in this day and age. As I continue to educate and push forward, I know I will eventually find my identity as a creative gifted individual. One thing I love to do is continue to learn new things that interest me. I feel like because I was denied this freedom as a child, I’m now doing this as an adult. Much like the adults that were denied a childhood and are living their childhood out through their adult life. Now that I have the freedom to learn what I want when I want (with kids its a little more of a challenge) I am doing just that. I love learning so much that I’m often times overwhelmed by the vast amount of information out there (even shuffling through junk vs good information). Because of the wealth of information, I have a hard time focusing on one thing and making a career out of it. I feel like a kid at the candy store. I just want to sample everything that appeals to me and master everything. I want to be an artist while also wanting to be a scientist, a theologists, a photographer, a web designer, a surface designer, a discoverer, a politician, an activist… Basically, I have a hard time putting all my eggs in one basket. I’ve come to know this as being, multipotentiality.
Multipotentiality is a blessing and a curse. It can be exhausting and stressful because you can tend to feel lost and like a failure when you have too much on your plate and nothing significant has really come from it. Also, you tend to find yourself exhausting your job’s demands and that you can tend to get bored easily in your job/career and never feel really fulfilled. Always looking for the next thing. Like an addiction, but this addiction has to do with your very lively hood and self worth. I found myself switching jobs quite often when I would become extremely bored. When working up the corporate latter wasn’t optional, I no longer found joy to go and would quit. I did this until I decided to work for myself and became my own boss. This worked best for me but it’s easy to burn oneself out emotionally and physically when you are a multipotentialite. After creating my first business, I then found myself coming up with multiple different businesses in completely different areas. I would find something that interested me and became well versed in the field. I’d then create the business from scratch and give it my 100 percent then wake up one day and say, “I’m bored with this. It’s no longer fulfilling my creative side, what kind of business can I come up with next?” Talk about torture and exhausting. I’m training myself to be more realistic. To concentrate more on specific areas of interest instead of easily getting lost in the abyss of information and potential that is consistently tangible in this information age. Paula Prober actually touches on this very topic in one of her blog post, are you a multipotentialite*?. (click here to read)
This is only a glimpse of what it is to feel like the “other” gifted adult, if one will call it that. Maybe we’re all like this? Maybe we all feel a level of insignificance despite our own accomplishments… regardless of having a paper degree, a dream career or not? Honestly, I don’t even know how relate-able I am to other gifted adults because quite frankly, I didn’t even know I fit the label of gifted until after I had my daughter. I mean I always knew I was drastically different from the norms of society and never really fit in with my overexcitabilities and sensitivities, but I never knew I fit into a label. Especially a label that I felt on opposite ends of the spectrum with because of misconception, self doubt and early academic defeat. I never saw my full academic potential because of my early academic struggles and then when I finally did excel at formal education in my college years, I had to quit because my mother became deathly ill. I dropped out to take care of her and lay her to rest (personally, family and love is above education). I then lived to survive and I survived to live. I didn’t focus on anything but trying to make sure I stayed afloat and had a place to live … and then I met my husband. When I met him, the world opened up. For the first time in my life I was able to embrace my talents, start to flourish as an individual, study things I love and take classes in areas that interested me. I also learned to not give a darn if I had a paper degree to show for or not. It’s been a long road of consistent pushing ahead and never giving up. Without going through what I went through, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Which leads me to character. The very reason I was drawn to Florence Nightingale as a child and Albert Einstein as a teenager. In the end we all leave this world. If I’m not able to leave a world known mark or legacy, I want to have at least left an everlasting positive influence with the ones I love. I personally feel that it’s not the academic accomplishments that define you but your overall character.
Character isn’t built in a day.
To me, noble character far surpasses intelligence, academics and accredited degrees.
I encourage you, if you feel like the “other” gifted, where you have little self worth, lack of paper degree is making you feel down or even if you feel like your degree is worthless to you, go research some of the greatest that have influenced our world for the better (click here for a jump start). I bet you would be surprised how old most of these people were when they had their first major break, how many times they failed and just kept going. I personally believe it’s more about attitude and perseverance than accreditation. Where there is a will, there is a way. I was quite surprised just how many people that positively influenced and changed the world as they knew it, didn’t have much formal education behind them. How often they tried and tried again after much failure and dead ends. How they were even known as rebellious, dumb and lazy when they did attend formal schooling in their early years. I’ve come to realize the less we fear and the more we learn to be bold and have faith in ourselves, we will be ready to take on whatever comes our way. I encourage you to follow your passions and to never give up because it’s truly never too late.
Can you relate? Feel free to comment below and share your story!
Lets stop this “Tall Poppy Syndrome” together.
Lets embrace each other and help make this world a better place.
Spread the word!
I challenge you to share this with everyone you know!
With much love,
This post is a part of the GHF blog hop on Gifted Grown Ups.
These are quotes I cling to that have taken me from point zero to today…
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” ~ Einstein
“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.” ~ Einstein
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and conveniences, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~ Einstein
“Your Thoughts Build Your Life. What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life here on earth is the creation of our mind. ~ Author Unknown
“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. ~ Kahlil Gibran
“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious. ~Bill Meyer”
“If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (MSG)