A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Giftedness, Creativity, and the Fear of Being Wrong

This post is part of the World Council of Gifted & Talented Children's International Week of the Gifted 2012 blog tour
Around here, creativity isn't something you do, it's who you are. The teenlet* and I are both high in imaginational OE, and some (okay tbh, it's most) days will find both of us lost inside worlds of our own creation. 

Cybraryman posted this quote on Twitter the other day during #gtchat, and it struck home to me. 

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”


So here we have our imaginational OE and our intellectual OE at odds - intellectual needs to be right; imaginational gets stifled by that need. I see it so clearly in the teenlet when he refuses to share his ideas with others because he's afraid of the criticism he's made up in his mind. We had a friend - a researcher and expert in biology - over recently, and the teenlet had said he wanted to tell her about an idea he had that could cure aging. When she got here, he wouldn't even give her the basics, just saying, "I think we could cure aging." He didn't want her to laugh at his idea, or tell him it wasn't possible.

I see it in myself as well, when I let someone's off-hand comment cast doubt in my enthusiasm over a new idea I had (even though I know those comments were intended to be supportive). 

Recently, I figured out that those key doubts that creep in and make me lose courage - those are the ones that I need to guard against the most. In my case, it's the sense of originality. I've been stuck in this place of not being able to write anything because it's all been said before. Feeling like I have nothing to contribute has been a huge place of fear for me, and has stuffed my creativity down into a crevasse so deep it was beginning to be crushed by the rock on all sides. But somehow (thanks to some special friends - Arash, John, Manal, and Sonia), I realized that it's my voice that makes what I say original. 

And then the creativity comes rushing back. 

So, as we are looking forward to the WCGTC's Year of Giftedness and Creativity, it is my hope that we will all find ways in which to let the creativity flow, to figure out where the stoppers are and pull them out. 

And may you find that the dragon you are trying to slay is really an alligator lizard. 

Not that I *ever* have dragons involved in my imaginary world. Ever...

*The "kidlet" has unofficially graduated to "teenlet" as his 13th birthday approaches. This is based on the food consumption, the additional sleep needed, and certain other indicators that suggest that he is moving into a new stage of life. Like growing an inch overnight last Monday (previously, it would have taken him 3 years to grow an inch! Growth has not been an area in which he has been hyper-accelerated). So one of my friends asked if he was graduating to teenlet, and I figure now is as good a time as any! 


  1. Dragons are in most of my imaginary worlds :)

  2. Why anyone wouldn't include at least the occasional dragon...Oh, was that a true-to-life detective story? Anyways, in real life dragons are so small but they are real: Asiatic lizards who like plenty of heat and easy to hunt insects.

    Other than my only older sister, you are the first I have read using 'kidlet' and 'teenlet'. I do not believe that is grammatically correct but it is charming and sounds good.

  3. Isn't it sad that gifted kids believe that, if they dare to imagine, they would let everyone down?

  4. Sorry, but its self-aggrandizing blogs like this that illustrate the narcissistic surge that plagues our society. Gifted means nothing in the human scheme of things. No matter one's genius if one does not have the gift of empathy, compassion, insight and love.

    (From: A "gifted" individual)

    1. I'm sorry you feel that this blog is self-aggrandizing and narcissistic, Christine. I agree with you that the key elements of empathy, compassion, insight, and love are what will move us forward as a society. But we each come to those from different perspectives and with a different understanding of how we can contribute to the greater good of our society. The type of giftedness to which I am referring offers these individuals a unique insight into the world, insight that most people do not even know is possible. My blog is here for parents who are struggling with the issues of bringing up these unique, intense individuals so they don't feel alone in their struggles. But if you don't like the way I express myself, I invite you to read any of the wonderful blogs that I have linked to the right, to see how others are expressing their experience with gifted children.

    2. Christine... the "narcissism" of society is selfishness, whereas the questionable "narcissism" of the gifted is more about believing in one's abilities, which is NECESSARY for gifted people to succeed in affecting their world for the betterment of the Human Condition that you would say requires empathy, compassion, insight and love. There is a difference between confidence and arrogance - and that difference says more about the labeller than the labellee. I sense your giftedness hits you with a humbling smack in the face - to deny your gift in favour of the empathy gift. What you don't realize is that empathy is a rare gift that increases with level of intelligence. It's part of giftedness. Also, the "self-aggrandizing" that gifted people do is often a self-defence reaction to the slamming down the public does to its gifted minority. It's necessary to keep one's self-esteem up by oneself, because people rarely compliment gifted people. To do so would be an admission of their own imperfection. It's all about ego to the general public, but to the giftie, pride in self is actually hard to hold onto. So maybe use that empathy you're so proud of and think twice about who you are calling self-aggrandizing. Make sure it's not a case of the kettle calling the teapot black.

    3. A post script note: Gifted does mean something, even without much empathy - the marginally gifted have less of it, but still can contribute what they can. Let us not render them useless for being thus handicapped. An example: a gifted surgeon needs to have less empathy, but still a sense, even if it was taught to them, of ethical behaviour.

  5. Mona, I am genuinely interested in this "teenlet" term you use to indicate your child. I tried googling it and could not find another reference, "manlet" came up in a parallel search. What does teenlet describe exactly?

    1. Haha... I made it up. I have used the term "Kidlet" for years in referring to my child - both in personal conversations and, especially, online. When he began showing signs of adolescence, it was suggested he was no longer a "kidlet" but is a "teenlet." To me, it is both an expression of affection (much like "-ito" in Spanish) and a recognition of his extreme asynchrony. But in general, it is an issue of privacy - I don't use his real name online. Ever.

      The Teenlet himself suggested that I might call him "adultlet" when he turns 18. ;)