When my oldest son was 8 years old, I explained to him that he was gifted. He had learned to read at the age of two, to multiply by the age of three and knew all the 50 states as well 200 dinosaurs by name. My son’s reaction: he cried, became angry and told me that is wasn’t a gift, but a curse.
I was puzzled - how can being a super-learner be a curse. All the students in the school I teach envied him for his learning powers. However, the truth is it had already started to dawn on me in kindergarten that being gifted is more often a burden than being a source of happiness in life. Yes, gifted people find happiness more rarely in life, and it’s not because we are not programmed to be happy, it’s because the way we are programmed to be happy is increasingly not working in our modern, stressful world.
Gifted people are high-oxytocin people. We don’t work in a social hierarchy, i.e. we don’t strive to climb up the social hierarchy, because we don’t function with reward and punishment. We are not motivated by good grades, financial rewards and hierarchical status, we are motivated by love, respect and the appreciation of others. People who work like this, don’t often have good grades in school and they don’t often occupy higher management positions in big companies.
You might say, so what? Where is the problem? The problem is that most of us don't feel understood by the world and when we try to fit in, it hurts us immensely, up to the point of becoming depressive or bipolar. This, in a nutshell, is the giftedness curse: trying to fit into a world we were not programmed to live in by evolution. People look down on us, because we are the way we are, but they really would have to meet us on our own level to really understand us. Unfortunately few bother to. There are those few who look up to us. But the majority wants us to adapt. Being forced into something that doesn't correspond to your personality or trying to force yourself to do so, only hurts and makes you sick.
When my son started kindergarten, the first year he played all by himself. The second year he made two friends (being introverted that was actually all he needed) and in the third year he tried to integrate into the group by starting to speak the local dialect. He failed abysmally and sounded like a non-native speaker. He has since then given up speaking the local dialect. It doesn’t come naturally to him, he can only try to imitate it, like an actor imitates a foreign language.
Of course, my son still struggles to blend in at middle school. But he will never be a fully integrated member of society. Gifted people work differently, and to the outside world we often appear weird and socially awkward. Like all people, we still do need deep connections with other people to be happy. These deep connections are increasingly hard to find for gifted people, unless with stick to our own kind.
On Quora, a social network, which basically only is made up of introverted intuitive and gifted people (Myers Briggs INTP/INFP/INTJ/INFJ) there are scores of people who want to know why they don’t feel accepted and loved by the world. The answer: it is the giftedness curse.
Dedictated to my son, Andrej and dedicated to Hedy Lamarr, who always was more loved for her looks than her true self. Not beeing acceted the beautiful personality she was made her undergo verious plastic surgery procedures and a social recluse.