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This was not the start of the gifted way.

This was the first post on this blog –

– but by no means the first step on the gifted way.

That step took place some 60,000 plus years ago. Some gifted person picked up a stone and realized it could be a tool. Another struck a rotted tree stump with a stick and discovered a rhythm that set hips swaying. A third created marks on the wall and made everyone laugh with excitement. A fourth picked up something shiny, saw the glint of desire in a young female’s eyes, and started looking for more and saving them.

Despite their massive contributions to the community, gifted adults have not typically been revered. They get known as the mad scientist, the crazy artist, the self-destructive performer, the anti-social geek. When they were young, they were often identified as special needs children.

Why? Because the great majority of the world doesn’t understand them. Raw intelligence is not the only factor governing giftedness but it is a factor. Anyone with an IQ over 130 is regarded as in the gifted domain.

Take a look at this figure:

The tiny percentage of population with IQs over 130

The tiny percentage of population with IQs over 130

If you have an IQ over 130 – and you probably do if you’re reading this – you’re part of a tiny and rather lonely community.

You may also believe you really are crazy when, in fact, you’re just different and incomprehensible to the other 97.9 percent of the world. Or the other 99.85 percent if your IQ is over 145.

If you’re not already doing so, please start to honor yourself for your rarity and your enormous value to the world. Come back often. Select one of the feeds at the top right of this page so you’ll know when there’s something new to see.

39 Responses to “Begin here . . .”

  1. Jordan says:

    Hello, in the last few months i have been on a journey of self discovery. last night i happened upon an article about spatial learners, finding that i myself am a spatial learner. as i began to poke around i was led to a site on gifted adults, i know that when i was younger i was very unique, and at times i think i’m crazy but, i discovered that i am gifted. i have had my midlife crisis at the age of 19, so luckily i have a chance to change, unlike most people who when having their midlife crisis sink into a deep depression. i feel that i have found my path, and that eventually i will be led to the treasures of my heart which is truth that i so diligently seek. i don’t know if anyone has ever done a study on a 19 year old who has become self realized. i’ve always known there was something about me that was great, i feel it deep in my soul. and was on the brink of tears when i discovered that i was gifted. at times i’ll talk to people just so that i can bounce ideas off of them. my thoughts are sometimes unfinished, because i feel my mind moving at such a fast pace that my words can hardly tumble out before another thought is presented. in school it was a struggle for me to learn with the other students because i saw everything differently, i pushed this aside as if i was just not smart enough, and thus i became an above average student, keeping a consistent C-average as my grade. i feel that i’ve been let down, because i am only discovering this now. but because i am still young i know that i can change, and turn my life around. i know in my soul, in my spirit that i am meant for something great. i just need someone who will stand by, with full understanding and knowledge of what i am feeling, so that in my times of struggle i may bounce my ideas off so that i may come to a deeper understanding. because this is all new to me, i have no idea how to go about this. and i am asking, for help. that you can mentor me from afar, because i’m an ever truth seeking spirit, bound by limitations of reality. and i know, that my soul is waiting to break free and dance. i humbly ask, that you will give me input and insight, so that i may further in my journey towards ultimate truth, and who i will become, and how i will benefit this world.

    sincerly,

    Jordan.Whitney.

  2. Mo says:

    [Moderator, please allow this comment and intellectual debate the dignity of existence here. Replies are honestly hoped for.]

    The line, “A fourth picked up something shiny, saw the glint of desire in a young female’s eyes, and started looking for more and saving them,” is enough to put me off this site. To the author, Christopher, really? Attraction to shininess is part of the carnal character of young females? Is “something shiny” metonymic for gems, or are you implying that money was invented as a way to attract young females? Jewels or money, archaeology suggests otherwise. No matter what you intended, I’m boggled and frankly hurt to see such a priori assumptions about the sexes, in the very introduction to a site that purports to be for the “gifted community”. Thanks, I suppose, for returning me to my regular state of social skepticism. Are there any human communities who claim, “we’re different and special” without regressing to definitions of how others aren’t?!

  3. Hello Mo,

    Thank you for your frankness. I’m sorry to think my words may have hurt you. The only point I was trying to make is that it is the gifted who are conscious enough of their awareness to be able to make use of it. The use may or may not be considered honorable.

    Your line: “Attraction to shininess is part of the carnal character of young females?” is very powerful and as a statement rather than a question I think absolutely states the historical and current truth for many women. I do not think that this is all women, however, and the Mother Theresas, Hilary Clintons and Maya Angelous can cheerfully co-exist with the diamond-encrusted crowns of Queen Elizabeth and the arm candy of male billionaires.

    To address your questions, “Something shiny” could be anything at all, but I suppose I meant it as a reference to a potential adornment, or something desirable and rare and therefore a symbol of power. Gifted people are as much possessed by human nature as anyone else, and competition for mates takes many forms.

    All attraction arises from a mixture of factors, but amidst those some women respond more to a breadth of intelligence, others to the thickness of a wallet, and others to something else altogether. I don’t judge any one as better or worse than any other.

    The same thing goes for men. As Joni Mitchell sings: “Shining hair and shining skin/Shining as she reeled him in.” The fate of Harry, in her song, and the innocent female from my blog, lured by ‘something shiny’, is ultimately much the same: they discover that what they have is false.

    I’m not sure that my casual reference is really an a priori assumption in a society where phrases like “gold digger”, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, “Material Girl”, “Don’t marry for money but look where money is,” and “She made a good marriage” are commonplace. More a general observation.

    Finally, it’s a fun idea that money might have been invented simply as a manifestation of the sex drive but no, I don’t think that’s what it was.

  4. Mo says:

    Thanks for responding. I’ve cared enough to return seeking clarity, so I guess this is proof that comment forums can be constructive. I’m going to slog through my varied reaction. Forgive me for extreme lengthiness, while I try to do so diplomatically!

    Your observations of average women are sadly accurate, but describing their behaviour as “carnal” is an unfair summation of a complex issue. I’m saddened that you’ve reacted with easy acceptance to my use of the word, which I meant as rhetorical hyperbole. Let me explain myself more levelly.

    As far as women who are, let’s call them “first-world average” (taking it for granted that, as you say, gifted individuals of either sex can lead exceptional lives, surpassing gendered and other cultural limitations) there’s much to suggest that the codependence of their ambitions is socially constructed. I don’t think that’s the only influence, as I will also explain, but that it’s a factor demanding heightened compassion from thoughtful individuals, such as yourself.

    One need only consider the relatively-recent advent of diamond marketing, inscriptive ideals of women as obliging and supplicant, and artificially-retarded career development to realise that social factors hold powerful sway over first-world average women’s decisions (and look to declining birth rates in the first world to realise that sheerly instinctual drives are now being socially mitigated to a high degree, i.e., women’s lives are primarily nurture-influenced, rather than nature-influenced)

    If groups of first-world average men did not have access to average opportunities (i.e. these were significantly capped) but could fruitfully and acceptably resort to codependence, wouldn’t they? A moment after I’ve typed this I realise the hypothesis applies to racially prejudged men… but let’s save that discussion for another day.

    Clearly women’s behaviour is not overwhelmingly “carnal” but socially-constructed to the degree that in suggesting carnality, you belittle a social mater that demands the compassion of gifted individuals (for if thoughtful people don’t address such issues, who will?)

    All of this said, I agree that there’s lengthy historical evidence that shiny-adornment is a predominantly female cultural trait (in spite of societies where the roles have been markedly and prolongedly switched) and that the shiny things men carry have most often been weapons.

    As your own expanded-logic expresses, though, it’s as likely that early men collected shiny things to attract women, as early women collected shiny things to attract men through self-adornment. You didn’t use such an example, nor better yet, a gender neutral one; instead, you chose an example that carries a wallop of contemporary judgment.

    I therefore maintain criticism that your “introduction” page is not a great place for non-sequitur, gender-critical comment of average women. Ya know?

    By your own careful logic (i.e. the open-mindedness that recalled Joni Mitchell, and does not judge as good or bad anyone’s resourcefulness in survival) you could have left out the sex of the gifted shiny-things collector, and your writing wouldn’t shut anyone out.

    Thanks for bearing with this tangent. The Internet is naught if not an opportunity for the unexpected, no?

  5. Hello again,

    Thank you for taking me seriously. I enjoyed your response immensely and completely agree with it. I erred.

    And your references were astonishingly insightful . . .

    In my mother’s bedside table lay her mother’s jewelry and in my father’s lay his single-cartridge starter’s pistol. From this dynamic has all my gender judgment casually and unconsciously arisen.

    Struggle as I might, my nurturing occasionally prevails over my conscious self-development.

    So should I change my picture to one of cro-magnum woman handing a shiny flint knife to a man and telling him to get out there and kill one for her?

    Or have I still got it wrong?

    ;o)

  6. Mo says:

    What an intense memory! Thank you. I appreciate the chance to take someone seriously, and you’ve broadened my understanding of the issue, and of human behaviour. Erroneous reasoning is a human universal, but mutually seizing an opportunity to converse and think is not!

  7. […] The Gifted Way: the population of gifted adults is a tiny percentage of the whole. | The Gifted Way […]

  8. Christina says:

    Thank you for bringing this blog to life, by the way!
    Gender talk is very interesting. I was aware very early that my son’s favourite objects were of the ‘moving’ kind, so that cars and other mobile toys were much more wanted than dolls, for instance. Then how could you say I should have bought more dolls instead?
    And myself, I always liked cars and technical stuff more, so that was odd. I became an engineer. But I also like art and music, I was into university teaching, I tried to write stuff for a local newspaper as I love writing for itself, I like photography and maybe I could make a career out of that too. But I am unemployed at the moment, and my son was diagnosed with ADHD. We are oddly pleased with creating new things in various areas, and putting old notions ‘upside down’ so to say, but it seems that not many people appreciate that.

  9. tom Drouin says:

    I must say I enjoyed the discussion on gender, but not likely for the same reasons. I found partially that sometimes we can over intellectualize an issue purely for the purpose of intellectualism. I would add that man and women are different in some ways and similar in others, and then again similar or different in unconventional ways. I personally do not care much for or against unconventional. I am more concerned about conventional-ism. It seems the only reason we are concerned about stereotypes is because they are stereotypes. We often allow conventional stereotypes or cultural arguments to dictate the conversation, at the expense of having a valuable progressive discussion. I would rather discuss an issue based upon its true values, and then perhaps have a discussion on the cultural influences.
    Tom

  10. LechDharma says:

    Sometimes a shiny object is ONLY a shiny object.

  11. Ryan Ly says:

    I am going to be frank here I had only read the beginning, and the first comment, however that is all i needed to read to realize that I am at home . Or rather at a place that I can relate and find comfort. In response to Jordan I have also gone on an arduous journey of self-discovery, it was not easy it was not pretty however it was a necessity and the greatest gift to myself that I could ever bestow. I look forward to perusing the rest of this website in hopes that I am able to continually enlighten myself, and contribute to the world.

  12. Rich says:

    Thanks for the article, it was a fun read. I noticed you wrote, “if you have an IQ over 130 – and you probably do if you’re reading this – …”

    Now, I am 30 plus years old. My older brother won many english awards, went to Duke, AP classes and is now a cardiologist. When we were in 2nd or 3rd grade, my teacher told me I “might” be smarter than my older bro!

    I didn’t think anything of it then, but now, I am ecstatic because up to this point, I had nothing to live for. I was hopeless.

    So, i’ve been reading up on the characteristics of “giftedness” and I basically match all the criteria, except:
    1) I don’t remember my IQ score from 2nd-3rd grade
    2) I was HORRIBLE at math and EVERYTHING ELSE. Straight F’s, D’s and C’s all through 4th grade? Even in gym!

    So, my question is, I know I am gifted for sure, but since I don’t know my IQ score, I am a bit confused to what my level of “giftedness” really is.

    I am getting weary of researching and I just hope someone out there could help me better understand what level I am on, in terms of “giftedness”

    Do I really need a score of 130 or more in my IQ? Where can I find my records? What if it’s 125 since my teacher said I “might” be more intelligent than my older brother… oh, will someone please bless me with blessings???

  13. Amanda Ng says:

    I am home.

    I feel so happy when I found your blog Christopher. It is akin to breathing fresh air after cooped up in an air con room all my life. Just reading the words on your blog, saying them aloud and when the sentences roll off my tongue, it’s like cursing in French, awesome ;)

    I stumbled on your blog googling gifted children. After a friend mentioned, maybe all my frustration with life is because I’m gifted. It was very hard for me, but I think I now finally realize I am truly gifted.

    My family believe I am crazy, and I have been hospitalized before and they still force me to see professionals and monitor me all the time like…well..I’m crazy…hahaha..

    But I have, like so many gifted brethren before us, been on a journey of self discovery . And I am now secure in my difference. I know who I am.

    Your blog is so awesome.
    Thank you.
    Keep up the good work.
    :)

  14. Dawn says:

    When you mentioned shiny objects, all I could do was think of was someone getting easily distracted and then “Squirrel” popped in my brain (“UP” movie reference). Are you calling women dogs? LOL! Just joking. I myself, like shiny objects. My diet pepsi can is shiny. Sorry – I will stop now.

    Yes, I am gifted and one of the 2% with an IQ over 130. While I can be very intellectual (I love a good literary discussion because I love to read and write), I love to make others laugh. It’s very self-satisfying.

    This is just one of the many ways we all think differently. It would be kind of cool to put some visual or textual references up and see how everyone interprets them. I always find that interesting, to understand how others think. No, I’m not a psychologist – but I am very analytical. Just one of many things I am interested in.

    I, like many before, didn’t realize my potential until my mid 20’s. My mom told us our IQs were high when we took the tests as kids, but she can’t find them or remember what they were (now she tells us). I could walk and talk at 9 months, read and write 3-4 years old and so they started me in school early. However, the maturity just wasn’t there and while I had many A’s and B’s – I had several C’s too and did not do as well in the classes I was, frankly, bored in or just didn’t like.

    I also had a very smart younger sister that liked to correct me and continued to do so through most of my life because she realized earlier on that she was highly intelligent and could read something and it stayed with her. So she never studied. And she was enormously annoying because of her arrogance, conceit and the fact that my parents enabled that behavior. I felt dejected and depressed so I ended up spending a lot of time in therapy as a kid and adult because I thought maybe, I’m really stupid and worthless. This was not the case. But I finally established that your self-esteem has a lot to do with realizing your potential. It also helps if someone else sees that potential in you and helps you out. In my 20’s someone saw that in me and took a chance on me with some new job responsibilities that opened my eyes. I got cocky and a little arrogant myself with my new self-awareness and that kicked me in the butt a few times. Now I’m in my 40’s and while I’ve had my challenges over the years – I like working in the field I’m in. I have a career while my sister fumbled most of her way just doing what dropped in her lap until she finally realized where her strengths lay which is graphic arts (she is a right brain and somehow got into supply chain/logistics which was very difficult for her).

    I’m a bi-lateral myself. To me this means jack of all trades, master of none. But that is not a bad thing. I think I’m more able to comprehend and adapt because I use both sides of my brain. This really helps me in my field because you need to understand and communicate to all different personality types from engineers to executives to creative groups to the 2nd graders I teach Junior Achievement to. I could share more about what I’ve discovered over the years, but I would need my own blog.

    I would like to share some advice with everyone out there. Just because you are in the “gifted” realm, doesn’t mean you can do everything well. If you can, work on your interpersonal relationships and communication. Your ideas and opinions will be more readily accepted if you can navigate the sea of personalities and cultures with courtesy and respect. Trust me – this is a truth. Even if you turn things upside down. That is innovation and it’s the future. You just need to find the right avenue.

    And this is universal advice: When in doubt, have some chocolate!

  15. Hi Dawn,

    Thanks for your input and for your triumph and advice. And I completely agree with you about that chocolate.

  16. Joseph says:

    This blog has an easy and comfortable feeling, thank you Christopher.

    Recently, a friend identified me as a classic multi-potential personality. Several IQ tests, through the years, have consistantly returned a score in the 130’s but the scores are only a card that qualifies me to post something on this blog. I’m not certain the scores mean anything except that I look at the world differently than most people.

    I have a memory from a young age (around 3 years) of watching my father driving his car and comprehending he was lost. Once I got him to listen, I told him how to get back to where he knew his location. I remember it because of the way he looked at me afterwards. I loved my father but it was clear we were different at some level I did not understand but knew I could never fix.

    I’m in my 60’s now and it’s been an interesting ride to this point. It wasn’t until the last several years that I discovered, because of my friend’s comment, that there are enough people with my characteristics to make a category, a “Multi-Potential Personality”. I don’t care to be an expert on the subject of Gifted / Multi-potential personalities but for a reason I am not certain I fully comprehend, I feel better knowing there are others.

    If my life were a series of video clips it would simply be a procession of one project after another. If you used the standard grading system and gradeded my abilities during these projects I would receive a B or B+ at their conclusion. I focus intently on a particular subject or activity until I master it then I drop it and rarely go back. During these periods I think of little else; eating, sleeping and other bodily activities are undesirable distractions. I have no desire to become the best; I just have to understand and be competent. Once I have learned or become competent to a journeyman level, preferrably from hands on building or experimenting, I immediately lose interest and find something else. It is a testimony to my wife’s potential sainthood that she has remained with me.

    As an example of this behavior, at the age of 15 I was interested in the internal combustion engine. I took money I had been saving and bought a used car. I fabricated an engine stand and ramps from raw metal stock, purchased a floor jack and a chainfall. I then proceeded to completely tear down the engine, drive train and suspension and rebuild it to working order. Once completed, I traded the quite functional autombile for three boxes of BSA Lightning motorcycle parts. My father was dumbfounded, I was focused on the motorcycle and didn’t care about anything else.

    To this day the first thing friends (or perhaps better defined as acquaintences) ask when we meet is, “What are you into now?”

    For years, some individuals would use this lack of consistency in hobbies or even vocation as a means of ridicule under the guise of concern. I was in my early fifties before I finally understood what I was about, accept it and stopped allowing others to find fault with me. I’ve lived dozens of careers in my life time (though I stayed employeed at one place). Understanding, knowledge, is more important to me than anything, save the love of my wife. Nothing has changed over the years but the condition of my body. As an example, I recently built a 6 foot floating arm trebuchet from raw stock and gave it to some college kids when I had finished and tested it to my satisfaction. If you have to ask why then you are defintely not like me.

    I go into a depressed state when I have mastered something and don’t have another project that spotlights a dark spot in my knowledge. If I am forced, by circumstance, to restrain myself I become irritable and melancholy. Fortunately, I have been gainfully employed throughout my life; I’ve been able to hold to this one demand of society (and my wife). I found a place over thirty years ago, a research institute, where my behavior is considered an asset; I am blessed. I’ve also put enough away that we can live without fear of tomorrow when we retire . . . I’ve done that much at least for my wife.

    I would not trade one experience, or the knowledge gained, to be different than I am. Actually, it would be impossible for me to become more uniform and consistent in my conduct. I am writing this for the person out there who is like me and finds society keeps trying to push them into a box and keep them there. If you are like me, and have gone through life mastering many things but have only desired to hold onto the knowledge gained and discard the carry (or vessel) the knowledge was wrapped in, then know you are not alone.

    There are surely many shades of gifted and being multi-potential is probably just one shade. If you are like me knowledge is everything and money, status, popularity, etc. are irrelevant distractions to my primary purpose. Not a purpose I chose but a purpose that is so deeply ingrained that I can do nothing about it. I’ve tried and it is like something inside me is trying to tear its way out and I live each moment of its confined torment as an eternity. I am a bit like the Maasai, shared in a tale told by Robert Redford in the movie, Out of Africa. But it is my mind, not my body, where the analogy has meaning. Redford tells how the Maasai, when put in confinement, will die within a short number of days. Not from lack of food, or mis-treatment, but from depression. They cannot comprehend anything but the moment and since their moments are filled with restriction and despair they lose the will to live.

    Well, that is my experience. Looking back on it, I can say the only time it has troubled me is when society wants me to be different than I truly am and be more like the norm . . . in that sense I will never be able to fit in.

  17. Nancy says:

    Joeseph, I can relate to the mastering of a skill, then moving on part! I have always enjoyed a challenge, especially when someone tells me I can’t possibly do something!

    I also reached self-actualization early on in my life. I was 18 when I announced my life philosophy: “Know Thyself” and “To Thine Own Self Be True.” Those exhortations have followed me all my life, and when I adapted myself to “get along” and to abandon those principles, I became very familiar with major depression. But now I’m in my sixties I no longer have to be “normal” to be accepted–I’m free to be me.

    I am a true underachiever, however. Too many interests. I’ve had many different jobs, from research assistant at a medical school, graphic artist, decorating consultant, retail sales, to a graduate student in a mental health counseling curriculum (the latter. most recently). I will never stop learning–I can’t help it!

    My IQ was measured at 137–98 percentile, but there are many areas in which to be gifted–and I, too, am gifted in more than one area, so for us the “goal” is multi-faceted. The goal for me was not so much to be the best in one field, but to be conversant in many.

  18. Celle says:

    Dear all,
    I live in a small village, country side, population around 10.000.
    This means that we are 200 out of the total, which are in the 130+ range. I don’t know of any as we go unnoticed, but one thing is sure: you’re not alone. And you are far from the exception you might think you are. Intelligence is just a minor part of our total personality and all the rest is far more important and influential. Keep that in mind.
    Regards

  19. jeff white says:

    please forget first how alone we all are. then realize your human gift is to help our race of human beings.
    beauty abounds and astounds.
    find your outlet to share.
    you just might make your mark….and be remembered.
    albeit for good of mankind.

  20. Mike Patrick says:

    I looked up this site for my son who is struggling in school despite his 135 IQ. I relate to him more than anyone else as my score is over 130 as well. I would not let the education system designed for “normal” students do to him what it did to me. As a child My reading class was neglected because it was right before lunch and was cut short every day to make it to lunch on time. I failed 3rd grade because i could not read. It turns out i suffered from an inherited form of dyslexia that is usually outgrown (or simply relearned) by the age of 12 or 13. Unable to accept the idea that I was unable to learn or “simple” I taught myself to read over the summer and astonished my principal by speed reading a 4th grade assignment in seconds and answering all his questions accurately. Sadly, the school system in South Carolina at the time was not capable of handling gifted students and I was informed that I would have to repeat the 3rd grade again because I had already failed and they could do nothing about it. I quickly became bored and got into mischief and was placed into the SLD program (Slow Learning and Disabled). I was Rescued by a teacher in 6 th grade who changed my life by asking me a simple question’ “Why are you here”. My answer led him to an IQ test that made the school system accommodate my needs to get me back on grade level least they face a lawsuit. Today I am a Computer Engineer, desperately trying to get my sons teachers and school administrators to understand his gifted nature and potential. He has an IEP for students with learning disorders to help him with accommodations necessary for his particular learning style and to prevent teachers from punishing him because he does not conform to the normalized expectations of other students. This site is a blessing both for him and for me. I have found a place where I can see and hear the amazing and exceptional for the love of knowledge itself. Thank You.

  21. Dwight says:

    I have always thought that I had a problem communicating with others. I felt like they (others) should be able to understand me when exchanging ideals but it seemed like I would just assume they should know (the topics) like it was common knowledge. After researching some of these articles, I realized that it wasn’t I having the problem. I had clashes with some of my employers (especially my prior supervision thinking they were simply inept) then after reading some articles on this subject, it became clear. I wasn’t the problem; it was me simply assuming everyone should have been on the same page. Thanks for giving me a new perspective on this, for I would simply think I was the one failing to communicate properly. Knowledge to me is the way to find my answer, unfortunately it will always remain mine.

  22. Allie says:

    I agree with Mo. In addition, I feel like the author’s sexist comment implies that women are excluded from this “society” of gifted people. We must be too busy looking for shiny things, right? For your information, wealth represents resources, and I’m quite sure a cave woman couldn’t care less about a shiny rock. Don’t try and simply such a deep and complex issue.

  23. kate says:

    I agree with the loneliness aspect. I am 60 and along with gifted, I have ADD. Which leaves cobwebs in my brain. I feel no living soul understands me. My children, closest. But even then, I am alone

  24. Karen Kidd says:

    I was delighted to stumble upon this site and glad to see so many articulate people whose experiences have been similar to my own. What follows is a long and wordy memoir: my life growing up as a young, gifted outsider among the 98%; finding my 2% people and place in midlife; and now choosing, in retirement, to return to the very place where my journey began. The difference is that the wounds of childhood have healed and the scars that remain now serve to remind me that I have largely overcome the pain of being a misunderstood misfit and can now respond to the pain of less-gifted “others” with a measure of understanding and empathy that actually surprises me. The great majority will never be able to understand or fully accept me, but I am happy with the ways my outlook has changed. They may exclude me, but I can make common cause and be of some help to them. Rumi pointed the way when he advised “Be a light, be a lifeboat, be a ladder.”

    I grew up in Kern County, CA, which has one of the the poorest and least educated populations in the state. We are at the southern end of the great central valley and our economy is based in agriculture and oil. Because it generates enormous profits for the handful of “family-owned” farms and businesses (which are, in fact, huge corporate enterprises with national and global outreach), we have a tiny population of very, very rich people. They may have gone to college but most are interested in money, power and “things”–not ideas. It’s also true that, as far back as anyone can remember, the vast majority of our population has been low-income and without the education that would enable upward mobility. Many of them do the hard, dirty and physically demanding work of farm labor and oil production. Others (the “lucky” ones) get jobs working in the low-skilled service economy–in places like Walmart and McDonald’s. No matter how high their intelligence and potential for achievement, they must concentrate on meeting their basic survival needs. For them, self-actualization is out of the question (cf. Maslow’s famous hierarchy). Because of these factors, it is not surprising that this region of California is anti-intellectual and, in many cases, outright hostile to anyone whose intelligence might prove problematic for the vast majority.
    My brother was born in 1941, a few months before Pearl Harbor, and I came along in 1949, an early member of the Baby Boom generation. There were eight years between us, a World War and three post-war miscarriages; but, luckily, my working-class parents were wise enough to know that they could never afford to raise more than two children–and even that was quite a stretch. Our father (born the youngest in his family’s birth order) would have been classified as an ESTJ on the Meyers-Briggs scale, and our mother (born the eldest in hers) was clearly an ISFJ. They were a good match for each other– both firmly planted in material reality and clear about their values and judgments. In stark contrast to them, my brother is an INTP and I am an ENTP; we’re intuitive, insatiably curious and open-minded. Our interests are many and they’re always changing; as soon as we “get the genie out of the bottle” and resolve the question that piqued our initial interest, we hand the matter over to someone else and move on to something new. Our steady-as-you-go parents could never understand these patterns. They loved us, provided a stable family life, and were so happy that we were “smart” that they were determined to see that we got a college education. But they were not in the least academically inclined themselves. My mother was a talented piano-player and my father could build or repair anything. But I didn’t have the discipline to master the piano and my brother, comparatively speaking, was “all thumbs.” He had demographic advantages and gender advantages over me, but said on more than one occasion that he thought I was smarter than he was. My answer, in jest, was always “Well, that idea certainly does put your intelligence in question.” But, because I could never match his level of achievement, I saw him as the family genius and myself as a comparative failure. I knew that we had many positive things in common (SAT and National Merit point totals, IQ scores in the high 130’s, B+ GPA’s) but even more formative, I believe, were the character-forming negatives that we both had to face and overcome. Individually, we had each suffered years of downright persecution–not only from the children around us, but also from adults. It was particularly painful when our teachers took aim, but we were nice kids and were fortunate that a few who were themselves quite gifted “discovered” and encouraged us. In my case, I will be eternally grateful to three of them: Miss Makley, my first-grade teacher; Mrs. Wolfe, my fourth-grade teacher; and Miss Gregory, my eleventh-grade teacher of College-Prep English. Years later, Miss Makely told me that I had been one of the research subjects for her M.A. thesis, and in third grade had tested off the charts (which went up only to the eighth grade level). I remember quite clearly that I read Dickens’ Oliver Twist that same year, when I was in third grade. My brother brought it home, told me it was good, and handed it over. Much of the vocabulary went over my head, but I was able to follow the plot and was proud that I had read and finished a book for grown-ups. In eighth grade I also tested off the charts, which went up only as far as completion of the twelfth grade. But that was in verbal ability; in math I tested at the seven-month level of the seventh grade (Math has always been the bane of my existence!). I was forced to take high school algebra and geometry, but got D’s and had to repeat them both (The second time through I got A’s and B’s, but that was the end of math for me!),

    Today, my brother (age 73) is an internationally respected scientist–a full professor of Human Genetics at Yale. He supervises an important research lab in the Medical School, has had dozens of grants, made many discoveries and published hundreds of scientific papers. He has received more local, national and international honors than any of us can remember. More important to us as siblings, however, is the respect he has earned as a kind and generous human being. He has mentored and launched the careers of many other scientists and has won friends and colleagues around the world.

    As for me, I was what you’d call a “late bloomer.” I went to the local community college and graduated from U.C. Riverside in 1971 with plans to become a high school teacher of English and art. After earning my secondary teaching credential in 1972, I entered the job market at the worst possible time: We Baby Boomers were ready to launch our teaching careers, but the Baby Bust was in high school! Teachers were being laid off in unprecedented numbers, or holding on to their jobs for dear life, and nobody was hiring for about three years (unless, of course, you were qualified to coach high school sports–or had a parent on the local school board). I had to return to my parents’ home and patch together a pitifully small living: I graded papers for college teachers, taught French one day a week at a private elementary school, and built up a steady clientele as a substitute teacher for the Kern County High School District. As a substitute, I was exposed to the dark and seamy underside of local education–so many examples of unqualified and incompetent teachers and administrators that I wanted to gag. In the end, I was getting a lot of calls because, out of many on the list, I was one of the few subs who could handle out-of-control classrooms! So that was my reward for basic competence–being thrown to the lions.

    It seemed that nobody I encountered in the Kern County system, at any level, really valued knowledge, so I learned the hard way that high-school teaching was not for me. When full-time jobs did start becoming available I chose instead to back into library work. Although they hesitated to hire me because I was so “overqualified,” I eventually
    got a paraprofessional job in the library at Cal State Bakersfield and proceeded to work my way up the ladder. When I “topped out” as a department supervisor in my early 30’s only two paths to further advancement seemed open to me. I would either have to earn an MLS and become a full librarian, spending the rest of my career helping the clueless to do basic research, or go on to become a member of the faculty–able to do research of my own! It was an easy choice: I had always loved both learning and teaching, and the higher the level the better my performance and the greater my satisfaction.

    It took me years of part-time graduate study and thousands of miles of commuting between Bakersfield and Pasadena for me to earn an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Although Fuller has a reputation for its academic rigor, I believed that I was scoring A’s in all my classes just because the professors were “nice guys.” That is, until James Bradley, the professor who taught American church history, took me in hand and said that I had genuine talent and really must go on to earn the Ph.D. He said I should aim beyond working with undergraduates and focus toward teaching graduate students and furthering my accomplishments in research. What a boost that was to my confidence!

    As always, financing such a venture was problematic, but for the first time in my life I had grades high enough to qualify me for major fellowship money. When I learned that there were two excellent graduate programs that would actually pay me to come, I was overjoyed. Vanderbilt offered me a somewhat better deal, but its program in church history was highly structured and inflexible. Plus, it was far away in Nashville TN (Bakersfield, home of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, is often called “Nashville West” and I had already had my fill of redneck culture). My parents were in their 80’s and my brother was far away, busy in New Haven CT with his very demanding career. One of us had to be on hand to help our folks if and when they needed it. So I decided to pursue the program in History and American Studies that was offered at the Claremont Graduate School only 130 miles away. Claremont valued my interdisciplinary background in American literature, studio art and Historical Theology (UC Riverside, my Alma Mater, refused to admit me to its doctoral program in History because I did not have BA and MA degrees in History). Claremont also had a small but highly individualized and flexible program. It was hard to be accepted there, but afterwards highly supportive (unlike programs that accept many students, but begin weeding them out from the moment they arrive). Claremont at that time reportedly had the nation’s highest per capita population of Ph.D’s, and its academic consortium included five highly rated undergraduate colleges and two graduate schools. It was my kind of place–and still is.

    After advancing to candidacy I won two major Dissertation Fellowships. The Haynes Fellowship in 1994 was from Claremont and in 1995 I was one of only seven scholars nationwide to be awarded a Pew Dissertation Fellowship in American Religious History from Yale. Then, when my year as a Pew Fellow year was over, something surprising happened: an adjunct job teaching American Studies courses at the California State University in Fullerton fell into my lap. I hadn’t applied for it, but had been so highly recommended that they decided to hire me. There I remained, very happily, for fifteen years. The teaching load was enormous–three classes a semester (each with between forty and sixty students) and the pay was very low; but I was able to teach upper-division students in my areas of specialization and was treated like a colleague by the tenure-track faculty. As the revolving door of adjuncts came and went, I was kept on and granted three-year contracts and health and retirement benefits few adjuncts were able to get. As my parents in Bakersfield entered their 90’s and required increasing levels of eldercare, the department gave me a schedule that freed me to commute and stay as many as four days a week in Bakersfield; I taught a Tuesday/Thursday schedule and was free on Wednesdays to collapse from sheer exhaustion (or to finish grading the essays that students expected back the next week). The History/American Studies department at Claremont, still solidly behind me, understood my situation and gave me leave to put my dissertation on hold indefinitely (I had at that point completed over 250 pages and garnered the interest of five University Presses). But at age 61, when I began researching the retirement benefits I had earned with my 22 years of credit in the California State University System, I was shocked to learn that my pension at age 62 would start at about $2,018 per month. As teaching faculty, working my keister off, I was taking home $12 less than that.

    By the time I turned 62, both of my parents had passed away and my brother and sister-in-law had generously given me their half of our inheritance. They had always been generous, contributing monthly checks toward our parents’ care and helping me financially when I could not make ends meet. More than half my monthly income went just to pay the rent in my shabby Claremont apartment (right by the railroad tracks, where my walls vibrated with every passing freight). Living in the LA and Orange County area had become much too expensive, but I now owned the Bakersfield house where I grew up outright (no rent or mortgage payments to worry about), and the cost of living in Kern County has always been comparatively low.

    Of course, I decided to retire and moved back home to resume work on my dissertation in a place where I could live cheaply and find few intellectual distractions to tempt me. That’s where I am today, by choice. I’m doing the academic work I’m passionate about and have also discovered a world of unexpected opportunities to be of service to the “folks” of this community.

  25. Hi Karen,

    This is a wonderful optimistic memoir. Thank you so much for your story. I hope your dissertation continues to reward you.

  26. Em says:

    Hi there, thanks for the blog. I’ve been consciously on my gifted seeking journey for atleast the last 5 years. I know my IQ to be atleast of the 160 Mark, although I have trouble focussing my mind and attention when it comes to performing (only when serious issues come into okay).
    I am looking for other like minds beings to try to connect up with. So if you’re out there please do message me, thank you!

    Em

  27. Em says:

    *play! :)

  28. Mary says:

    Wow.. just.. wow. While admittedly there is some very engaging discourse here- the type that, I guess, people with a certain IQ just can’t help but to indulge and immerse themselves in – most of these comments (though not all! thank you!) reveal and display not only unabashed self-absorption, but self-congratulatory “unique” perceptions and introspection.
    I can’t stand most “smart” people for the simple fact that so many of them are in love with their own intelligence. My IQ is 141. So f*cking what? I’ll take a conversation with someone of average intelligence, anyday, over one with someone of equal “IQ.” It’s much less annoying and tiresome.
    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with engaging in discourse that is intellectually stimulating. Just do it humbly, with the awareness that none of us “earned” our IQ. Using it as a means to implicitly or explicitly demand a status of societal superiority is like claiming superiority for having green eyes, or freckles or diabetes. You were born with your IQ; you didn’t do a damn thing to earn it or be awarded it. No accolades (from me, anyway) for what was genetically- and MAYBE to a small degree, environmentally- transmitted to you. You were fortunate to receive a rare gift. Be kind. Be sincere. And most of all, be humble.

  29. Thanks, Mary, for taking the time to write. You haven’t actually identified the unabashed self-absorption etc and if you look through most of my comments you’ll see that being gifted (which is not just a matter of IQ) is very difficult. In fact, it’s so difficult that some people attempt to deny it altogether and try to ‘normalise’ themselves. You are so articulate and direct that I can’t really believe for a minute that you have rewarding conversations with people with IQs of 100. Not unless you dumb yourself down with booze or something first: a strategy adopted by many gifted people.

    There’s no point in a California redwood pretending to be a cherry tree. It doesn’t fool anyone. So your IQ of 141 will reveal itself all the time and you will be treated accordingly. No you didn’t earn it or deserve it: yet it defines you and your relationships with everyone around you. Even with me. As for humility, it’s advocated most often by those who benefit from it: e.g. churches, schools, military organisations. I’m not an advocate of arrogance but I believe that an acceptance of one’s giftedness – including its rarity and thus its differentiating power – is essential to leading a fulfilled life. I don’t feel fortunate to have received a rare gift because that implies that it’s of greater value than an IQ of 100. In fact I think the converse is arguably the case. I do, however, concur wholeheartedly with being kind and sincere. C

  30. Lesley says:

    Firstly: thank you Christopher for this site. It is nice to know you’re not alone.

    Secondly: Mary, for the most part I wholeheartedly agree with you. I feel that way about anyone who is arrogant about anything though.

    By the time I realized that other people didn’t think the same way I did and that they actually had to try to remember things (like how to spell cat), I remember feeling lucky that I didn’t have to waste my ‘free time’ going over stuff. So I’ve always believe that it was kind of a gift, but I also think everyone just has different gifts. Perhaps I think that because one of my brothers was/is awesome with people and the other was a top-tier athlete. We all had strengths. None of them made us any better or worse than the others. Mine just made me more lonely.

    With regards to conversations with others; as much as I have spent my life trying to ‘fit in’ (because that was important to my mother), unfortunately there are few people I’ve met with whom I actually enjoy a good stimulating conversation. Not that I don’t enjoy other people too; it’s just a different level of enjoyment.

  31. Lesley says:

    *believed*
    (sorry)

  32. Joe says:

    MY GRAMMAR SCHOOL YEARS

    By Joseph A. M

    God, what a fantastic childhood,
    I honestly and truly had.
    In 1961 I remember doing my first B & E,
    I was just a five-year-old wise-mouth lad.
    We robbed my kindergarten’s Christmas candy,
    Cleverly we broke into the school.
    My buddy was already in first grade,
    To me he was much older and cool.
    One year later we almost got into trouble,
    When some Samaritans called the law.
    We emptied stolen boxes of plumbing elbows,
    Backing up the busy streets, practically from wall to wall.
    Cars were driving out of control,
    Off, and all over the roads, and then even onto peoples’ lawns.
    We almost caused a dozen accidents, but when the police chased us we ran.
    In second grade we finally were apprehended,
    For smoking and climbing upon the school roof.
    Did we all get driven home to our parents?
    Let’s just say, my limping and black and blues were my proof.
    In third grade I won the talent show,
    It was written up in the town newspaper.
    I organized a make believe rock band,
    I was the center star, imitating Mick Jagger.
    Fourth grade was my most rebellious wardrobe,
    Pointed shoe-boots, shades and a black leather.
    Hitchhiking at the age of nine, and vandalizing whatever?
    In fifth grade I surprised my every single teacher,
    In fact, I even shocked the school.
    Although, I had the lowest of grades,
    I scored the number one highest of I.Q.s.
    Now this didn’t mean a thing to me,
    Although, it did to them.
    But after years of sitting in the office,
    I felt like I got some revenge.
    And yet, I was now the ripe old age of ten.

    But that was then, and this is now,
    Meaning, if I could do it over again, I’d do it all differently.
    For nowadays, at times, I feel like a complete idiot loser,
    And “a loser” is what my last three girlfriends had all called me:
    ”You’ve No Money!”

    Yet, in truth, I have way too much integrity to be a loser
    In the eyes of anyone who truly matters.
    Thus, those who believe that money is God,
    You are madder than a hatter!

  33. Karl says:

    Interesting read of thoughts… it’s true that higher iq’s brains don’t work the same as the majority of population. It’s nothing that should make anyone feel different or lonely. You are just able to focus in pin point ways that most cannot. Others will come to same conclusions eventually, but you will have been there and gone by then… Treat it for the advantage it gives you and enjoy the ride people… You don’t have to save the world, just use your power to influence through thoughtful suggestion and you won’t get the freakish looks anymore!

  34. Daniel says:

    I am 17 years old and have an iq of 133 and until finding this blog have never thought of it as being that weird; I mean I’ve always known that I am far smarter than the average person but I didn’t realize how few people actuallys shared my level of intelligence. I have gone to a private school my entire life and have been blessed with being surrounded by plenty people of equal or higher iq for as long as I can remember. Of course I am still smarter than the majority of my peers but I know about 60 people with iqs close to mine and am friends with many. Reading all of your posts has made me realize how lucky I am to be gifted with this environment and has caused me to wonder how different my life would be if I went to public school like the majority of the population. As I prepare to graduate from high school and move on to college and graduate school then begin my life in the real world I wonder if I will run into challenges later in life do to my giftedness after I am removed from the environment I have been blessed with.

  35. Zahraa Ghoul says:

    Hi, actually I have one of the rarest IQ, I am a 13 years old girl from Lebanon, my IQ is 197, I always feel different than others and no one understands me, so this would explain why.

  36. Daniel L Yingling says:

    Growing up was emotionally aweful. Being very small and skipping the 4th grade didn’t help. I would never allow my gifted son to do skip a grade or be pushed ahead. There are more important aspects to growing up than the classroom. Both of my parents were exceptionally intelligent and those genetics were passed on to my 2 sisters and I. We all scored the same total score on the SAT with drastically different score in Math and Verbal but achieving the same total score.
    I have always felt like an outsider no matter how hard I tried to fit in. After reading all of the comments from all of you, I really do understand some of the challenges to being gifted. It is by no means a certainty to being successful. I struggle mostly with remembering names and no matter how hard I try it takes me time and repetition to remember names. I can do some complicated math in my head but names escape me. I have always dated and married very intelligent women but my relationship skills are not great by any means. While I’m very loyal, kind, and caring, I have not been successful in staying married. My marriage ended after 10 years and now after 8 additional years I have not dated anyone and live alone. I’m comfortable being alone and rarely get lonely. Gifted can be extremely lonely even if you give 100 percent. My advice is always keep your head up and do the things that make you happy and don’t worry about be judged. Most people will never understand you and that’s ok. The last 8 years have been some of the happiest years of my life. I know who I am and there’s no one to judge me except me. I love the few people closest to me and for the rest I don’t spend anytime even thinking about them. I wish I could converse with some of you but i know that’s unlikely. Take care, Danny.

  37. Laura says:

    Being gifted is difficult. Society tries to squeeze you down into a pre-defined box and I just don’t fit. For most of my life, I dumbed myself down and engaged in meaningless conversations. I don’t want to talk about the weather or sports or the Kardashians. I want to wrap my head around the scope of creation from the vastness of the universe right down to the veins on a butterfly’s wing. For the most part, I have given up on talking to people and my goal in life is to be a hermit. My IQ is 135 but I am also intuitive and artistic. I do struggle with communication because I can see internal pictures and understand them in detail but when I try to communicate what I see and understand, I go from point A to point Z and fail to communicate all of the leaps I make in between. One of my gifts is pattern recognition so I usually see connections before most people. In High School, I had gifted classes but all they did for me was prep me for college. They don’t teach you how to channel your intelligence. Thank you for this site. I very much look forward to learning from it.

  38. Janis MacNaney says:

    I am a woman with a 137 IQ. I’ve struggled all my life trying to relate to people and have been very frustrated. I can’t seem to have an intelligent conversation with anyone. My intelligence is mostly in the realm of ideas and practical ways of looking at things. Others don’t understand basic things and believe what they are taught without thinking about it or doing research. It’s hard to make close friends when you don’t respect the other person because you can’t really talk to them. When I started studying IQ I found that I am in 2% of the population.. and am desperately trying to find that 2% to talk to. I have a cousin with a 178 IQ and a sister with 136 so I do believe there is a genetic component. Thanks for this website; it explains my loneliness, frustration and inability to function in a world full of people who are not thinkers. I love my friends for other qualities but I can’t truly relate.

  39. Jeff says:

    I’m really glad I came across this message board. I recently discovered I have a 130 IQ and have also recently been struggling with a feeling of disconnect with society. It’s been fantastic to read some of your stories on here, I no longer feel so misunderstood. I could relate to what so many others wrote, but mostly I identified with others who were labeled as “slow” as a child, simply because they could not conform to the social and societal norms of public education.

    I struggle with how shortsighted and reactionary that most people are and its baffles me how most function in everyday life this way. I see so many blame arbitrary sources (race, gender, patriarchy, capitalism, politicians, etc.), for their own problems, when really their problems are just the result of their own poor choices. Seeing the world around me operate in such a way often made me feel alone, as one of the last sane survivors of humanity. Reading your stories has refreshed my hope. Thank you all for your encouragement and to all who re reading this and having similar feelings to what I had: know that you are not alone.

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