Am I gifted?

This might not be something you normally ask yourself: Am I gifted?

If you are here reading this blog as a highly sensitive person, it should be.

A high percentage of gifted people are highly sensitive.

There are many, and debated, definitions of giftedness, but the one that I like the best is from The Columbus Group (1991):

Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm.  This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity.  The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.

Because giftedness is typically viewed as being successful in some academic, athletic, or other endeavor, many people who truly are gifted don’t realize it. This is particularly true when there are learning disabilities or things like childhood trauma that compound the issue of giftedness.

I asked some friends recently about discovering their giftedness later in life. Why didn’t they think they were gifted? Here are some of their responses:

I was told and thought to be smart, you must be good at everything, especially math. Only my brain literally shuts down when presented with numbers…As for the empathy, the existential questions and depression, the sensitivity  [common qualities of the gifted]? I was told that I was crazy and then heavily medicated. In fact I was so different from the rest of my family that my parents told me and everyone else I was not human. A ufo crashed in a field across from their house, and my parents found an alien egg, from which I hatched. – M.

(She was not the only one whose family “joked” about the child being an alien.)

I can’t be gifted because I’m not a prodigy! – L.


I couldn’t be gifted: I wasn’t reading newspapers by age 3 or graduating with a 4.12; I’m afraid of math and always ask too many question or have too many answers. – S.


I did poorly in math and didn’t apply myself in the last 3 yrs of high school. I was depressed and bored. – C.


I KNEW I wasn’t gifted because I asked too many questions in school, thought many answers on tests could be right and would happily explain why, I didn’t get straight As, I wasn’t a fast thinker, my answers were always too divergent…. – L.

There were two distinct threads in their responses – difficulty in a particular subject or two (typically math) and misunderstanding what giftedness should look like (“I wasn’t a prodigy!”)

Here is a great checklist of gifted qualities. See how many are true for you!

Why is this important? I think Paula Prober says it best: “If you will stop labeling your gifted traits as craziness, then you’re more likely to find your way to self-acceptance and purposefulness.”

Such good advice.  It is so natural to tell ourselves, “I can’t really be gifted, I must just be doing this thing called life wrong.

Dear ones, you are not doing life wrong. You are just more. And sometimes that more takes awhile to figure out.

8 thoughts on “Am I gifted?

  1. Thank you for addressing this needed subject! The main reason it is important to know you (or more importantly your child) is gifted, is the gifted community has a long history of shame, self loathing, loneliness and yes, harming themselves. The burden of feeling lonely and not understood is a cry often heard from the gifted community, yet rarely talked about. It is also important that you let your child know if they are gifted. It will reduce any early problems of “why don’t I fit in?” Some argue this topic-thinking it will encourage gloating and some form of attitude of superiority in the child. Most of the gifted families I know and work with are humble and the antithesis of gloating. SENG is a wonderful place to start. I have a friend who has started GRO-Gifted a non-profit doing research to support the community. I was labeled high IQ as a child and my daughter was recently labeled Gifted. I had absolutely no idea what it even meant to the trajectory of our homeschool life–other than I was desperate to find her a group of her peers to commune with. The asynchronous development is key in this discussion more than most realize. When you have a child who is emotionally 5, chronologically 8, and academically 14 with a sense of humor rivaling that of a 40 year old, your days can be quite interesting! Thank you again for this post!

    • You’re welcome! And thank you for mentioning SENG and the non-profit your friend is starting. I will soon be doing follow up posts and hope to talk about SENG and other supports for the gifted.

      I, too, was told I was gifted when I was young, but no one explained to any of us what that meant. I was just supposed to be smart and successful. I’m so glad there are more resources today. Thanks so much for your comment!

        • Thanks for the link. I’m not sure what you mean by “offer a link to GRO and SENG.” Do you mean here on the blog? Facebook? I’m willing to do both but wondering exactly what you meant. 🙂

  2. Wonderful post. Before I had children, I taught in public school and had many gifted children in my class. As I learned more about how to teach them, I wondered if I could be gifted too. I absolutely hated school as a kid. I can still remember reading books in my desk while the teacher was talking! Hoping to give my kids a better experience.

    • The book in the desk trick – BTDT! It’s amazing to me how much we learn about ourselves by learning about our students and our children. Thanks for commenting!

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