The Loneliness You Feel as a Gifted Adult.
It is part of the mythology of giftedness that super-smart people have it made.
That they are successful, rich, and appreciated for their cleverness. That they don’t really need much companionship because they are totally content in their labs studying fruit flies, or in the library immersed in piles of books on obscure philosophical theories.
In my experience, this is not the case. These adults are often lonely. Granted, I’m a psychotherapist. Most of the gifted clients I see have lived through some sort of childhood trauma. Nevertheless, I suspect that many of the non-traumatized gifted souls among us would be telling me similar tales.
When you are gifted, you may have what I call a rainforest mind, a mind-heart that is highly sensitive, insightful, and complex. It can be hard to find others who truly, deeply get you.
* You are at your job, being conscientious, and caring. It is important to you that your coworkers are respected and understood. You feel responsible to both the organization and the humans you supervise. Meetings are challenging. You problem-solve quickly, and typically end up waiting for the group to catch up. You grow tired of explaining what is obvious to you.
At your evaluation, your boss tells you that coworkers say you are arrogant, condescending, and judgmental. Your boss is intimidated by you. You slow your speech and you smile more. You don’t share your innovative ideas or your questions. You leave homemade gluten-free cookies in the staff room. It doesn’t help.
* You are in graduate school. You were so excited to join what was supposed to be a cohort of deeply intellectual lovers of research and thinkers of complex ideas. But your advisor no longer cares. He has tenure, and has lost interest in academic pursuits and in you. The politics within your department is disturbing.
You wonder how there can be peace on earth when your colleagues in academia can’t even agree on the schedule for the next term. You feel bereft. No one shares your curiosity and your enthusiasm for Nietzsche, Virginia Woolf, quarks, Bach, the universe, and everything.
* You are highly intuitive. You have been an empath since you were quite young. You feel a responsibility to help others. It is hard to know if friends are attracted to you for you, or if they just want you to help them heal their emphysema or contact their dead Uncle George.
It is hard to have simple relationships because you can sense what others are feeling, and they either put you on a pedestal or they avoid you. If you haven’t been able to set healthy boundaries because you have been told that you have a gift and are responsible for sharing it, you may overwork and ignore your body’s distress signals.
* You have a deep sense of social responsibility. It is hard not to obsess about the level of suffering that you see all around the world. Your friends and relatives tell you to lighten up and stop worrying so much. But every time an extreme weather event happens somewhere or you see another homeless person, your heart breaks.
* You are the parent of a gifted child. This child is bursting with energy, questions, curiosity, and emotion. You can’t keep up with them, and are exhausted at the end of the day. You feel a deep sense of responsibility to raise a compassionate, sensitive human. To give your child what you did not get. Finding an appropriate school has been grueling.
Other parents think it is easy to raise such a smart child. It is not.
Can you relate to any of these examples? Many of them?
What can you do about the loneliness you feel?
You can read these articles I’ve written about this before. There are things that you can do.
For today, though, I want to share the words of Charles Eisenstein.
You are not alone.
“The beings we have excluded from our reality, the beings we have diminished in our perception into non-beings, they are still there waiting for us. Even with all my inherited disbelief (my inner cynic, educated in science, mathematics, and analytic philosophy, is at least as strident as yours), if I allow myself a few moments of attentive quiet, I can feel those beings gathering.
Ever hopeful, they draw close to the attentiveness. Can you feel them too? Amid the doubt, maybe, and without wishful thinking, can you feel them? It is the same feeling as being in a forest and suddenly realizing as if for the first time: the forest is alive. The sun is watching me. And I am not alone.” ~ Charles Eisenstein
Paula Prober is a psychotherapist, consultant, blogger, and author in private practice in Eugene, Oregon, USA. Over the 35+ years she has worked with the gifted, Paula has been a teacher and presenter at universities, webinars, and conferences. She consults internationally with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. Her first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is an in-depth look at giftedness, including case studies, strategies for greater self-understanding and growth, and numerous resources. Her new book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide For Gifted Adults And Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists, is a compilation of her most popular blog posts and includes specific strategies to guide readers back to authenticity, purpose, love, and to finally deciding what color to paint the living room. You could contact Paula at Your Rainforest Mind.