Giftedness and Leading a Double Life
Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and gifted people have a secret that they share: they all live a double life. You see, Clark Kent tirelessly works to conceal the fact that he is really Superman, and Bruce Wayne puts much effort into keeping his secret life as Batman under wraps. Gifted people—well, many of us, in many ways, hide our life as a gifted individual.
I just finished writing my first book, “Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling”. I worked long hours pouring my heart, my mind and potfuls of coffee (and maybe a few glasses of wine) into the writing of my book, and I am proud of what I accomplished. I was touched when the editor of my book wrote a poignant post, Watch Out for Gifted People: Undoing the Knot, on a topic from my book that resonated with her. I was thrilled that a part of my book, something I had written, inspired my editor to write a very thought-provoking post. I was humbled—and honored. It was quite a big deal to me.
Her post was insightful and I shared it with my readers on my Crushing Tall Poppies Facebook page. She discussed several important educational issues related to traditional school and homeschooling. And yeah, honestly, I was also proud to show that even before its publication, my book, my writing and hard work, had inspired further thinking.
Writing and having a book published is an achievement and one many people would want to share with family and friends. I sure did—and then I didn’t.
I mean, I have many friends who happily share business and personal accomplishments, and we celebrate together, or virtually. One of my high school friends is a stunt woman and I love when she shares which current movie she is working on or which famous actress she is doubling as. I admire her and love to hear of her exciting roles.
I have a bestie who had the record for the most Girl Scout cookies sold and she held that record for close to 30 years. She shared the news when her record was broken recently and we all relished in her past accomplishment as well as the achievement of the girl scout who now holds the new record.
Many friends share new jobs, promotions, successful endeavors and achievements they’ve accomplished or those of their children. As friends, we all share in the joy, pride and happiness, and we respond with our sincere congratulations. All as it should be.
And when I saw the post from my editor, I was just so darn proud, and honored and humbled and excited—I wanted to share.
I asked my husband what he thought about me sharing my editor’s post on my personal Facebook page. I really didn’t need to ask because I already knew the answer. Immediately, my husband’s face contorted into a look of what could only be described as 2 parts hesitancy, 1 part aversion and 1 part fear. Why? Because my book is about gifted children, and giftedness is an awkwardly touchy subject best kept in the closet most of the time.
And so, I do feel uncomfortable sharing my excitement about my new book with others beyond the gifted community–those who understand giftedness and support gifted children and adults. Just like me, many people—advocates, writers, educators, parents and children—who belong in this often-closeted gifted community understand the feeling of leading a double life.
As the parent of a gifted child, you know you cannot say publicly that your child is gifted without the fear of being called a braggart, and so you conceal that fact. As a gifted adult, you have learned to tone down the smarts so that the possibility of offending others or being shunned yourself is lessened in your business and personal life. And sadly, gifted children have learned to dumb down to hide the fact that they are smart to be able to fit in more easily with their same-age peers.
I myself, as a gifted advocate, blogger and new author, feel as though I sometimes lead that double life, too. I have family and close friends who may know that I write about and advocate for gifted children, but they don’t bring it up. I know I can’t share that part of my life because I really don’t want to hear their silence or see their blank stares which are forcing back the urge to roll their eyes.
Among my friends and colleagues who live with giftedness and understand it, we agree that we are uncomfortable talking about giftedness and revealing that part of our lives—like we are leading a double life. We hesitate to talk about our gifted kids, we can’t seek advice when issues crop up with our children due to their giftedness, and many of us are unable to broach the subject of giftedness with our own families. We all fear the silence, the blank stares and the rolling eyes. We then hide that part of our lives.
Society, friends and family make talking about giftedness something to avoid.
Giftedness does not make us Superman, and gifted children shouldn’t have to hide their true identity like Batman does. And why should giftedness make us feel like we have to lead a double life?