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Understanding Very, Very Smart People

Gifted Resources

In this article, Samuel Kohlenberg, LPC, discusses his observations and experiences with profoundly gifted students and young adults. Here are a few things he would like to tell them (as well as the people in their lives). Reprinted with permission from the author.

Being smart is really hard.

There may be people with high IQs who have an easy time in life; relationships are simple, work and school are a breeze, and they long ago addressed the existentialist questions that some of us might carry with us until the very end. I wish them well, and what follows is not about them.

In my practice, I have been able to observe and experience how the world treats young adults with superior intelligence. At times it can be pretty heartbreaking, and these are a few things that I wish I could tell all gifted young adults (as well as the people in their lives).

You’re not allowed to talk about it.

This is the message that brilliant people receive from the world. Because much of the world sees intelligence as a good thing, talking about it seems braggadocios, which is incredibly problematic. People with high IQs are outliers, and outliers are often a more difficult fit in many respects because the world is not made for them. You are different enough for it to be potentially problematic, but you are not allowed to acknowledge how you are different because to do so would be self-aggrandizing. Be more like everyone else, but don’t you dare address how you are different. Bright people who have internalized this message may go far out of their way not to talk about a fundamental difference that often contributes to difficulties in a number of areas.

    • Learning how and when to acknowledge your own intelligence instead of sidestepping the subject can be incredibly important, and sometimes this means learning how to talk about it tactfully. One of my favorite quotes happens to be on tact:

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

     -Winston S. Churchill [attributed but disputed]. Learning to talk about how you are different without turning people off may mean that your needs actually start getting met…

Trying is a skill.

If you’re so smart, why aren’t work and school easy all of the time? If you have had a lifetime of being able to intuit your way through school or work, it also means that you have a lifetime of not cultivating the skill of trying. Some gifted teens and adults get to high school, college, or sometimes the workplace, and all of a sudden a completely undeveloped skill set relating to trying is required of them, and nobody is telling them that that is what is going on.

So how do you learn how to try? I recommend finding something that is low-stakes (meaning that it is not going to affect your grades or your work life) and that does not come to you easily. For many, such activities may include learning a new language, mastering a musical instrument, martial arts, team sports, or visual arts. Now that you have found something to try at, commit a significant portion of your week to it. Cultivating a new skill takes time, and the skill of trying is no different.

People can’t tell how sensitive you are.

A common trait amongst the gifted is that the outward expression of emotional states can be more subtle than in the rest of the population. You can be feeling things very deeply without anyone knowing, and that can be a painful and isolating experience. I wish that I could tell every gifted person that people are not missing you intentionally, and you are not alone. This tendency is relatively common, but very rarely talked about.

One way to attack this potentially painful dynamic is to tell people what you are feeling. You might be surprised at how effective verbally disclosing your emotional state can be. Habitually saying things like “I know that I don’t always show it, but I’m super happy right now” can be a total game-changer in some cases.

Existential crises happen a lot earlier, bigger, and more often.

For many gifted people, looking at a lamppost is a different experience than it is for the rest of the world. They do not just see a lamppost. They see an imagined history of how the materials that comprise the post were sourced, manufactured, and installed. They see the way that the lamp is connected to a power grid like a cell in a greater organism of a city and how they fit into that system. Imagine then, for a moment, what it must be like for such a person to turn their attention to their existence and what it means to be human.

The world is ready for angsty teenagers. The brooding 15 –year-old is a cinematic trope for a reason. People are less prepared for 6-year-olds in the midst of an existential crisis befitting a 40-year-old. Not only does it not fit the script, but it may be contributing to depression for decades to come.

Finding meaning is important. I recommend reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Thoughtfully explore how you make meaning in the realms of interpersonal relationships, how you spend your time, and what you enjoy doing/feel called to do.

The rest of the world isn’t going to change.

Learning to do well with people or with organizations (school, work, etc.) that are a less than optimal fit can be amazingly important, and you may as well figure out how to do this sooner rather than later. This idea comes up a lot when I talk to people about they way they fit in (or don’t…) at work or school. While finding optimal fit can be very important, learning how to work well with people who are different from you can be important too. For many people whose minds make them statistical outliers, learning to do this early in life has the potential to save a lot of discomfort.

To this end, there have been times that I have literally told someone that the most important thing that they might learn in high school may involve finding a healthy way to deal with people who have more power than them, but less intelligence.

Stop trying to do things their way.

One of the most agonizing things that I get to witness is the conflation of means with ends. Well-intentioned bosses, teachers, family members, and friends are often generous with advice when you have difficulty. The unfortunate reality is that following their advice does not guarantee that you will be able to overcome the obstacle before you.

I am sorry to say that there does not seem to be a one-size-fits-all answer. I have noticed a trend, however, that many of the gifted people that I work with have an easier time when they are able to learn things as a system and not as a series of steps or isolated facts. In other words, understanding how things fit together as a system is often a more helpful goal than memorizing a list.


If you’re interested in finding like-minded peers for your gifted child, Davidson Institute programs like Explore, Young Scholars, and our residential summer camps are a great way to make connections. Learn more about our programs and scholarships.

Permission Statement

This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.

Disclaimer: The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute’s Resource Library does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational and archival purposes only. The Davidson Institute bears no responsibility for the content of republished material. Please note the date, author, and publisher information available if you wish to make further inquiries about any republished materials in our Resource Library.

Comments

Elizabeth Sterrett

This is so interesting, a couple years ago I had to get an IQ test done for Social Security and I was not told the results, only that I had scored quite high. It has been so strange to hear that, when all my life my peers and siblings have called me stupid, idiot, or freak. How is it that I can be intelligent, yet come across as stupid? My only idea of why, is that I have a high comorbidity of mental illness, but what can I really do about that.

Charlene

Wow. This article and the comments left me in tears. Thank you.

I've been avoiding, ignoring and downplaying my intelligence because nobody told me any of these things, nor provided any guidance around navigating the world as an intelligent woman. Finally (at 55) I'm acknowledging it, learning to understand it, and figuring out where to go from here.

Wish there was a place for us to connect with others. Unfortunately, academia was stifling for me.

Please reach out if you would like to connect. deeperintelligence.ca

Biggest blessings to everyone on their intelligence journey!

Charlene

Nadiya

I don't think I am over intelligent but I can relate to many things said in this article. I feel myself as a misfit in my society. I don't have anyone available who can see world like me, whom I can relate to. I feel a need to feed knowledge into me, I feel deficient in knowledge all the time. I like to see the whole picture before dividing it into parts and this often requires more time to complete my tasks. My biggest problem is that I lose focus very easily, I got distracted on my way to do something many times.

Louise

I barely studied in high school, didn't have to. I was always in the academic top 10 and I never had to try. I was the best chess player, best public speaker, etc. I always struggled socially and I never felt like I fit in. I am very approachable and friendly, but I could never make friends with my peers. When I started studying engineering, I found out that you're supposed to study for mathematics, physics, etc. It took me weeks to adjust to the fact that I now have to try, more weeks to try out a few learning styles. I'm now starting with my Masters degree in computer and electronic engineering, and I can honestly say I'm surrounded by the right people. I don't feel like I'm different, even though I'm a bit younger. When you find your place in the world, you actually fit in by standing out.

B Lee

I think the hardest part is being different and not knowing why. I had an occasion to be tested when I was in my twenties and found out I was a high performing individual. I am a visual learner and struggled with non visual concepts. But I am very creative with art. And that is my joy.

When I was in eighth grade we took something called the Iowa tests. There was a part where you folded boxes in your mind and chose the shape it would become. There were also things like the ropes and pullies. Fitting pipes parts together in your mind, etc. I breezed through it thinking everybody would have fun with it.

After the person scored our tests he went up to my teacher and showed her one of the tests. Turns out it was mine. I had scored 100% on that visualization portion of the test, and high in other parts. Then my teacher quietly told me it was one of the highest scoring tests she had seen. I honestly didn't know the importance of that.

It took a long time for me to catch on. Kids, and even adults don't always sense their high intelligence. A person can go their whole life and not know.

One thing I have discovered is that people have relied on me to figure things out, but they are upset if I tell them I am considered a highly sensitive, gifted adult. That can be very frustrating.

Dan Cleary

People say I'm intelligent, as do I. Here's my experience with the condition.

I'm the world's most over qualified under achiever. I ask people who challenge me to a debate to pick their best topic, whatever they know most about in this world, and I will teach them about it.

I had a job at 13 where I was the boss of all field workers at a nursery. I hired and fired people at my discretion solely. I worked 80 hour weeks in the Great Canadian Oil Patch for 6 years. I have degrees. I have every license you can think of.

Point at someone, 2 days from then I guarantee they will tell you I am their best friend. No matter the social situation, I'm always able to work it seamlessly. Well, aside from 1...

I have never been in a fight in my life, yet never run from one either. Everyone likes me, my best friends are all people who wanted to fight me initially but I did me, and we're now lifelong friends.

I am unemployed and have no motivation or desire to find employment. I cannot maintain a romantic relationship for longer than a year or 2. I am miserable.

I'm just killing time til the end.

Barry

This made me laugh in recognition of its truth: "People are less prepared for 6-year-olds in the midst of an existential crisis befitting a 40-year-old." Indeed. And even less so when it's a 3-year-old asking questions about why the world exists (and why I existed).

I must admit it took me a very long time to understand that my peers didn't see the world the way I did, in the sense that things that seemed immediately obvious to me were often beyond them, even after considerable deliberation. Yet when it came to social interaction, it was the opposite. I didn't understand why, for example, it was considered 'fun' to make other people mad (I certainly understood later and more than made up for lost time).

It's also true that I gave up trying when it came to studies or tasks because I was able to meet what I felt were very low standards without trying at all.

Navigating interpersonal relations has often been hell for me. I have some long-time friends who are ferociously loyal to me but I draw a lot of hatred from other people. I am more skilled - or more practiced - than I used to be, but anxiety and depression have dominated my life.

Thanks for offering some advice.

Jess

Barry your comments really resonated. l often feel like answers are obvious and it’s a waste of time to have meetings or explore other options because I just know the answer. But, I have learned that most people around me need to process or have multiple meetings to discuss and take time to come to the same conclusion. I am frequently blown away by how slowly people come to what seems like a logical obvious answer. It can be hard to stay in the conversation. I’ve been in a few leadership roles where I would prefer to shut down the dialogue and proceed with my (obvious) solution. As much as I’d like to say I learned from the process, I am often just frustrated bc the solution adopted is my original idea. This is so hard bc I literally hate listening to people process thoughts verbally and I feel like it’s a waste of my time. The older I get the less tolerant I am. It is so difficult.

CJ

How do we handle long required meetings with less intelligent people. I find this to be very hard. Any suggestions?

B Lee

There are a lot of reasons that it can be frustrating. There is an annoyance factor when some people are long winded and don't really say much, or argue pointless ideas, etc.

Or they may be very sincere and respectful, but not fully able to understand some finer points. Those people are easier to work with. You can ask somebody to suggest learning material to them. That way you avoid becoming the go to person for their learning.

If you have the standing in your work environment, you can suggest that a less important idea be revisited in a later meeting. Of course with respect to the hierarchy of power, not insulting somebody important. A lot of times people don't revisit things after they are set aside. So bad ideas might die a natural death. You can only hope.

If they are persistent with their ideas, maybe they can be assigned to investigate it themselves. That can stop a bad or useless idea in it's tracks. I have found very pleasant people will do their own research if it is suggested. Others who are less willing would rather have other people figure out the merits of their ideas for them in a meeting rather than figure it out themselves. And that can be supremely annoying.

The actor John Cleese made a video a very long time ago. It is entitled, "Meeting Robbers." It is helpful in arming yourself. If that isn't available any more, YouTube is a great resource. You can search for information on meeting robbers, then learn some ways to cope with them, and maybe counteract the distracting things.

L.S.

Hi everyone,
I love this discussion and relate to many of the comments! One thing I wanted to share in case anyone reads this and is struggling socially is that I've found that you can sometimes find others once you join interest-based groups which are your real and true **unrestrained** complex intellectual and performative interests. There are entire fields of similar minds - in fact the most complex, interesting and abstract fields of human endeavor were probably created by minds like yours! Why not join in and find playmates? :) Find the activities that stretch and interest you and there's no need to limit yourself to just one or two. ;)

Although I don't know if this works for exceptionally and profoundly gifted folks because of their statistical rarity (since I am probably only highly gifted), I do know that in my fields of interest - math, physics and philosophy - up to the highest IQs find a home and are highly valued. Since I can be in their communication range, I often feel protective of those with higher IQs than me, and can relate to their daily existential bafflement and sense of isolation. If not caused by an actual mental disorder, I believe that many of our social "problems" are actually due to a lack of socialization of appropriate depth, logic and complexity. So being around people as smart as you (or smarter) and who still manage to be successful and fulfilled can remedy this somewhat.

I realize now that I was probably simply lucky that I ended up in academia because it meant that I was surrounded by other minds like me and was not so isolated. I've since met extremely intelligent people who never got channeled into intellectual communities and they seem to struggle with isolation and self-confusion a lot more. Just some food for thought~! It's never too late.

Much love and care to all of you,
L. (she/her)

PBT

Same. Reading through here has made me feel like maybe I could still exist somewhere somehow. Of course maybe I'm actually a dumb dumb that thinks I resonate what everyone else saying here. So who knows! Pretty sure it's certain my mind works different tho.

Maggy Seebode

I never thought I could relate to someone so much. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. You have no idea how much comfort I find in them.

Connie

My IQ has not been tested. The realization that I am smarter than most people has given me much peace. It explains my impatience with irate stupid commercials and comedy shows with laugh tracks and other day to day events others find amusing. Now I just think okay, I'm different. Not better or more amazing, just different. It is comforting not to be bothered by these things anymore.

Maggy Seebode

I feel ya, girl. Ironically, I just figured out that I'm more than just kinda smart at 20 years old. I realize my intense emotions, the way my brain processes information, my difficulty processing thoughts before moving on to the next one, difficulty being motivated, trouble making connections with people, stupid people being patronizing to me, and feeling depressed and bored makes so much sense.

Pete

Man. This is the first article I’ve read that aligns with how I navigate within the world. I’ve thought that the world is not set up for highly intelligent people. Especially ones who’ve fallen through the cracks.

I had to have myself tested a few times. Once as a child and another time as an adult. I was hoping as an adult my “IQ” would have lowered (as I partied rather hard as a teenager and remember thinking perhaps this will eliminate a few brain cells.) I remember the psychologist being very giddy to show me my scores and my reaction was like “ugh, I know.”

I also had an in depth aptitude test which was really humiliating: The top job was “professor”
and the second job was “religious leader/clergy.” (I grew up with virtually no religion.) The job I was least suited for-Factory Worker. I became a factory worker until I finally finished my degree. Really horrible. The factory and getting my degree-never attended my graduation.

I’ve learned the whole system of dominance and being a subordinate. Teachers, Supervisors and friends like you more when they assume you’re less intelligent. I’ll never ask to be promoted at work and I’ll never go for any advanced degrees. At the end of the day…it’s pointless.

I never talk about my intelligence and will observe others around me and see when I can unleash elements of it. I have to gage it. Because, it’s risky.

I can clearly remember my existential crisis starting around 9. At 11 years old, we had to write poems for a city wide contest. I won. It was super embarrassing and traumatic. The poem and my face was printed in the news paper.
Having adults ask me about the “metaphorical imagery” was annoying or they thought I needed to be taken down a few notches. I also had to learn how to fight school yard bullies after that. “You think you’re smart huh?” I vowed to never write publicly again.

Doing research on my family-I believe there was a true genius. Hidden-but a genius never the less.

I have developed a very rich and vivid Paracosm. It’s a great coping mechanism.

Sean

Reading this helped me to feel less alone. At 53, I'm finally coming to realize that the great majority of folks aren't going to grok much of what I say. It's kind of a terrible realization.

George Johnson

I reply to you because you used the Heinlein term "Grok". Can't describe how much "Stranger in a Strange Land" affected me many moons ago.
Just read the article and identify with it. I'm a 77 year old dude who has long had difficulty finding others to communicate with. So, I get along, have done fairly well, but have just one close (intellectually compatible) friend left (other than my wife) after all these years.
I am a Vietnam veteran (tried to be patriotic), retired and totally frustrated with all political idiots in charge.
Cheers

Beth G

Wow, absolutely love this article. I feel as if it was written for me as I was raising my very very very smart child, who was misunderstood, labeled, and ridiculed by teachers, staff, students, and neighbor alike in K-1. I started appreciating the uniqueness of SK when he was 4 and started kicking in his carseat throwing a solo-imposed fit as his big sister was not in the car. "SK," I queried, "Why are you so bothered? Your sister is not here to tease you!" His answer, "I was thinking about infinity and I don't know why it doesn't end." These type of SK-isms flowed throughout his childhood...Once when I was trying to avert another melt down in the car, I pointed to some interesting shaped buildings and asked him to identify shapes. Instead, at age 4 or 5, he said to me, "Mom, have you ever thought about living in 2 dimensions rather than 3?" He was deemed insubordinate by his kindergarten teacher for making complex patterns with 7 shapes rather than 3, "as instructed." I nearly fell off my chair as the teacher complained about this. The best thing my husband and I did was pull him out of public school, which he described, at age 6, as dulling his brain, and placed him in an experiential school through 4th grade. When I placed him back in public school, I suggested to him that he have two ways of acting, one a bit dumbed down in school, so that he did not have to deal with explaining things that no else would understand and the other, full-bloom exploration at home where we would explore questions about the space-time continuum, how we got here ("you know, Mom, the earth, moon, gravity"), the meaning of life and how religion plays a role. In 5th grade, we received a phone call from the school. "Yes?" I inquired "Umm, SK just took a guided math test. He scored in the high 10th grade level. We think he is gifted." "Yes, I said, I knew this all along, even as your school deemed him unteachable." By 9th grade, we moved the entire family from northern New England to NYC where all three children (whom I consider gifted), could explore being whole, without the constraints of small town expectations. It was a good move. SK and his younger sister, O, went to a school where thinking differently was embraced. Org Chem was his favorite course. He got to intern in a virology lab at a major teaching institution in NYC from 9th -12th grade doing molecular mapping on drug research projects. When he graduated from high school, I pleaded with him not to jump into college right away. He took my lead and got a one-year internship at a large construction company in their design department doing 3D modeling from blue prints. He recently graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, and works as an engineer on "greening" buildings in NYC. His favorite pastime is to sit on his city stoop with his rescue cat, observing the passerbys. I am sure they are both observing the street life in a way that most of could not imagine.

Kredmanee S.

I’m so blessed and so lucky for finding out this article. It’s hit my point so hard and directly. Definitely going to help me a lot from now on.

robert mcintyre

Wonderful insight. A description of my life. In a job performance review I was brutally told that I was the smartest person in the room and knew it. Being bright is a mixed blessing. I feel like I live in a world where people just don’t get it.

Tired and Disgruntled

Thank you so much for writing this! You've allowed me to look into a mirror that reflects my actual experiences, not a caricature of social media one-liners.

I don't know if I'm "very very smart," but you have put into words things that world denies because I'm treated either like I'm very stupid, criminal, and/or like a crazy person.

I will print this article, study it, and learn from it.

Thank you.

Barry Lee Talley |||

I understand the full regards of this situation especially when it comes to others feeling as if I am mad. It truly kills my self esteem, well the little bit of self esteem I can build up to say the least and just really angers, confuses me and just makes me so frustrated, Because in all honesty these people that call me mad just seem uninterested in truly what I find interest in and due to this they regard me as mad even though I sacrifice my own time to show them enough respect to build or create an understanding of their own interests for myself.

MG

Thanks for writing! The section describing bad advice is spot on. I've spent too much of my life adhering to platitudes and folk wisdom which I later realize are wrong. Also, the beginning section on appearing braggadocious is spot on. Sometimes I just want to share information with others but I abstain for fear of it coming across as a "flex".

Daniel Anthony

Great article; I have always discovered [initially] during my younger years I was given 'special' attention or precedence over others easily-- I am apparently quite gifted with an asymmetric face (please known I am not bragging). Life was always easy for me (I am now 31) yet I always found myself having to face friends jealousy or anger for no reason at all-- at least nothing I had done; I would literally find myself the target of someone's anger because it took attention away from them; which for a time caused me to really try and be invisible-- which had no success either. Unfortunately I've lost several friends because of this despite my best to not let this happen.
In my mid 2ps to late 20s I also found myself the target of incredibly selfish people whom only used me as a tool to make them incredible amounts of money... only to be told false lies and wasting years if my life making others fortunes.. not that I didnt do well myself... I just could and should be much further in my career. This aspect along with essentially being the outlier and seemingly having no one remotely capable of communicating with or understanding me at all... In reality these "gifts" I've come to feel are more like curses. but ironically, I can't be depressed or sad because I'm extremely gifted.... The inability to get some pf the most important people in your life to understand you is quite exhausting as well... but hey I can only imagine as humans continue to make strides in A.I. how it will be then... Most of pop culture is already making the gap even larger.

Mia Let

Appreciate the post. I'm young but have had a rough life. Whilst I'm learning more and working myself out articles like this really make me feel like I make sense. It's hard understanding yourself (especially in the deep, complex ways I self-reflect) without information about intelligence and a well rounded view on it's affects being readily available. I feel like I just read the "last piece of the puzzle" even though it's not the last piece it's definitely a crucial piece in understanding what parts of my mental health journey have been as a result of my intelligence. Moreover, how I can self manage it in a world that doesn't really embrace intelligence.

Justin R

Thank you. I almost can’t describe what it feels like to be so different seriously question if you belong on this planet at all. Or literally able to predict every word someone will say. Know things before they happen just because the patterns more obvious. The craving to talk to others who also want to build, designer, make better, create, imagine. pretty much save the world stuff

Brendan King

Thank you for writing this, it seriously made my day. I'm a 28 year old guy who this describes to T, I'm currently back out into the dating world 😑 and it is so HARD. I realized, whenever I message people I say these things that to me are just jokes, I'm just trying to be clever and funny (and admittedly impress them a bit, but that's how this stuff is supposed to work right?? ?), but they just don't get it. I realize, looking at their bios, that they just say everything straightforwardly; it's not like a game, they're not trying to be fun, they're just communicating. But it's like look, I can be straightforward and not try to be funny, BUT WHEN I DO IT ENDS UP BEING LIKE THIS; A DISSERTATION THAT NOBODY WANTS TO READ (which I get, but-).

I wish there was a dating app for gifted adults, that then separated the ones who made it out of childhood and are successful, and the ones like me that got eaten alive, and are now starving creative types who have to drench everything in 20 layers of sarcasm.

L.S.

Love the idea of the dating app! I actually looked for this service, but of course it's tough to find. :)

kathleen Lillard

We get it Brendan.

I’ve adopted over time a secondary, more folksy personality to deploy on the many occasions when I’d rather not alienate or intimidate. I sort of enjoy it some times.

Goose

I think all the comments and their slightly negative narrative regarding the more "average" intelligence level individuals responses to more "intelligent" individuals achievements, misses what should be an obvious connection IMHO. For many of humanity that kind of ability differential is perceived as a possible threat. They know the more "intelligent" individual can potentially, outsmart, outperform, outmanoeuvre them at almost anything apparently. How can you trust that individual not to use that "leg up" at some point, in a competitive world, to your detriment? If anybody has seen quiz shows like "The Weakest Link" or even "Survivor"type shows they would know the perceived smartest contestant is often earmarked for removal as they are dangerous and a threat. It's really a fairly natural human response and "never" going to change. You are a potential threat, even if it is just a boss or a social connection where your intelligence stands out as over and above the referenced "average" individual. There is deemed a necessity to be aware and cautious of the potential for that intelligence to be used against you, without you even realising it. Some will choose not to be in that constant state of cautious assessment and avoid interaction altogether.
Of course the more "intelligent" individual will grasp these responses and may react by being more cautious themselves with how they present to others,though there will be some who simply think""bugger it", I don't care what others think.
That's my barely above average take on it, coming from a family of a little above average IQ testing.
I have a personal take on the whole intelligence level testing and measurement that throws a lot of this into a different area,including how and why individuals whom never performed well academically at school for example.go on to be have great success in various areas. Just what is "intelligence" really?
I like to think I'm intelligent enough to know,I have no real idea. Lol

Tom

I am not exceptionally gifted, but my IQ was reported to be in the "moderately gifted" range, just one point shy of the Stanford–Binet minimum score to join MENSA. I believe I could have scored much better on the same IQ test just a few years later. I also have an inherited anxiety disorder that has made adhering to societal expectations very difficult. The discussion I had with a parent earlier today is most likely the reason I found myself on this website. It was pertaining to the problem I have communicating with people. As life progresses, I have tried to amend my speech to include more descriptive words and I have tried to present my objective from several different perspectives, hoping that my audience would understand the big picture, and this has only served to make me less understood.

Steve Davenport

It takes a lot of effort to communicate with folks who do not grasp things as easily as you do.

Sometimes you can't bridge the gap, no matter how hard you try.

That being said, I absolutely adore being around super intelligent people. It's like I can jump in the deep end of the pool of intellectual bliss...

Audra

Multiple perspectives can be confusing for most people.

Craig Swisher

Yes! I particularly liked the system comment. I am in IT and want to know how it works. My coworkers and supervisors want a checklist of what to knock off. It doesn’t always work that way!

Audra

Yes, I want to see the whole elephant. Then, explain to me the parts.

Ayumi Kiyomizu

Wow and here I thought I was alone in this! I have x2 PhD's, work as a test pilot, teach tae kwon do 3 days a week and for me it's nothing but a life. I used to be so proud of the things I've done and wanted to share that with others to inspire them and 99% of the time it had the opposite effect like resentment, jealousy, and sometimes their ire...

Now I just keep to myself, in my own little world watching things as they happen and smile because the work I do will bring about change. (disruptive tech ^^) To my brothers and sisters, wear your intelligence like a badge of honor because we were born this way! Now if only we had a flag...

<3

ABCrane

I get it yes. I am a working class autodidact because I found that academia had many "intelligent" people but few creative folks beyond what they needed to express towards achieving a "career." I like to read and write on econ, philosophy, psychology, etc...but to innovate new tangible models beyond these sort of stale nonprofit/union/charity "solutions...abcrane08@gmail.com if you want to connect...what are your PhD's? (anyone in group reading this feel free to connect, my youtube channel is Project Integrity... or projectintegrity.biz

Pepito Illan

I feel identified with this

Mat Delano

Yep, it's interesting how we all accept differences in income, athletic ability, attractiveness, whatever, but somehow, differences in 'intelligence' not so much. My sense is that a higher IQ and more 'smarts' often enables a much better appreciation for the complexities, broader relationships, and the greater 'possibilities' inherent even in relatively prosaic things. So as far as mastering the 'social' aspects, usually the challenge is how to distill that broader POV into something more 'accessible' to a wider 'audience'. Which when 'ya think about it, is what great filmmakers, and other artists do all the time.

Alopexla

I was placed in one of those gifted programs in elementary school. I left it because of the amount of attention it brought. The part about not learning skills is so very true. We can't be allowed to breeze by, it comes back to hurt. I withdrew completely from education and have wasted my talents. Pursuing art, literature and philosophy as a child while the others were playing baseball and amusing themselves with their own gas. Instead of college I ended up in the Army, only for so long as that was not a place I fit in either. I remember my commander frustrated that I was leaving the Army, it was validating. All these years I've worked as a mechanic, the engines and drive system, it's allowed me to reduce face time with other workers which I find exhausting. Whether professional or personal, relationships are so hard when it feels like you have to keep explaining. And wait while the troop figures out how to peel the banana. It can be like a prison to be intelligent and very introverted. If you add being physically imposing with immense strength all that that sounds like a blessing of genetics feels like everything but.
Children are lucky to have a source like this

kathleen

oh yes all that explaining can wear you down . . .

Frank Connell

I'm very humbled by reading the comments above. I was just searching for reasons why I'm having conversations with others that are nowhere in sight, for years and years, happens usually in the darkness of night. I realize now, I'm not alone. I crawled in a hole, a long time ago, believed I was exiled, nowhere to go. I joined their ranks, tried to fit, never felt accepted, another misfit. Years have come and years have past, some have accepted me for who I am, for that I'm forever grateful. Still a weary traveler, walking a narrow trail, carrying a little more hope than the day before. Thanks to all (:

Harry Houdini

The worst part about being intelligent, is that almost no one else understands you.

They are not – arrogant as it sounds – smart enough to understand your thoughts (and feelings.) Or maybe they just think and feel in different ways.

I guess its better to use the word 'different' than the word 'smart'. Because most of the bad consequences (aside from the overthinking) comes from simply being so different as to not being able to relate.

I have found, though, that by taking an interest in every single person, and trying to understand who they are at core, and how they became who they are, and how existence must be for them, the most uninteresting topic can become interesting. Trying to forget oneself and ones own interest, in conversation, can be deeply rewarding.

Scalyfradge Whopster Bligett-Snoodleguffer

Being intelligent is horrifying, you can generally envisage every situation many steps ahead but all the people around you can only see one step ahead. This means that people relentlessly tell you that you are stupid and wrong. When you are proven correct, people accuse you of cheating, because they were unable to see beyond their own noses. Intelligent people tend to be bullied to the ends of the Earth, 'tis a gift and a curse. A huge amount of solitude can help. Best wishes all. Cheerio!

Reagan Grace

These comments are all too relatable. I feel exactly what you mean, and I can’t say these last few years have made it any better :p

Dano

That paragraph about not able to talk about it. Ie stfu about the challenges to intelligence, hits hard. a cycle of being possibly TOO independent because any problem must also have the solution . & efficiency in solving those problems?it can create a cycle of letdown. I think we all have a role to play in our communities & nations. If you aren't fulfilling your best role then you are going to waste. part of the reason you haven't found your proper home is because the world is constantly telling you to stfu & conform to lesser standards & if you dare map out how that thinking is wrong then you also are arrogant. Intelligent people are every bit as human in making mistakes but are sometimes treated as super humans & excessive expectations are applied towards intelligent people. The main takeaway is that we need to destigmatize intelligence & rather offer the best roles for these individuals for the better of all. It's just a crazy matrix to break out of sometimes & a side effect of a very statist, very obedience driven, cult like society. Our educational system was designed after a Prussian military model of education.

Dan Cleary

The world is moving the wrong way for that my friend.

Science now takes a back seat to any group's personal offense of the science.

This is why math is now "racist" in California. So they removed advances mathematics classes to close the gap. This is why pi is rounded to 3 in many states. You should find out what states as their buildings and bridges will become progressively more lethal year by year. Side note, did you know that Black women have the smallest vaginal openings of any racial demographic on Earth? That's publishable, the explanation as to why is not as it is racist...

Everything I just mentioned is related and has to do with just 1 of many areas of science dealing with intelligence. Can you make the link?

James Watson did. He published some science that has subsequently been retracted and his Nobel Prize was rescinded due to his "lack of understanding in the field of genetics".

The Nobel Prize was awarded for his foundational work, along with Crick, which created the field of genetics.

Watson and Crick, the fathers of genetics and leaders of modern biology...

You see?

2+2 only equals 4 these days as long as no one is offended.

Also, side note, an infant's head is the controlling factor for female reproductive organ sizes.

This was the science published by the world leader in genetics who doesn't understand genetics. He was trying to help. Trying to remove the disparities we see in life for certain groups.

White Knights shut that help down and condemned those groups to suffer for eternity.

If you find what I just said offensive, then you're part of the problem. 2 and 2 equals 4 and always will. But today the masses are content with it equaling anything from "-0" to "dinner".

The stupid have won

Carey D Hartmann

Thank you for writing this. It made me cry.

CGB

My mother would sometimes try to be my "interpreter" if she thought something I said was "too old" for the other kids. I guess she meant well, but it would divert attention away from my ideas, and sometimes it would diffuse the punchline.
For example, once when my family was out for a drive at night, and there were no other cars on the road, my dad stopped for a red light, and I said, "You always stop for a red light, even if there are no other cars on the road. Because if you don't, you may soon find out there's at least one other car on the road." My mother found it necessary to add, "Yeah, a Police car!" as if to imply nobody else got my point.

G Phillips

I don't like when people assume I didn't "get the joke" or "understand" what they are saying, because tend to skip ahead a few steps in the conversation to arrive at the conclusion. They will say, "No, I was saying... ," and am torn between saying telling them I understand, but skipped to this point... or letting them explain to me in their voice they use for small children and animals. (face palm either way)

kathleen lillard

Very much sympathy Carey. My mother wouldn’t let me know my i.q. because “you might get a fat head.”
Adolescence: “ You’re like someone from a different planet.”
I wonder if others of our ‘tribe’ felt the bafflement I did throughout childhood.

Saritz

To this end, there have been times that I have literally told someone that the most important thing that they might learn in high school may involve finding a healthy way to deal with people who have more power than them, but less intelligence.

If only, if only....I still haven't figured this out, to my detriment. One day. I'm struggling to teach this to my kids and I still haven't figured it out. But I'm a step ahead for them than I was for myself. At least I'm aware of this. No one explained this to me, probably because they didn't realize. My parents were of average intelligence. I still don't know where I came from. Great post. Thanks.

Mahendra

Nice post. I'm not sure about my level of intelligence. But i find it difficult to build meaningful relationships simply because the other person doesn't seem to get my point even though it can be logically described, step by step. I'm genuinely inquisitive and feel unwanted in many social settings. Not sure if there are more like me.

Jiminy Kriket

It's more of a pick your battles thing, people with power will hold it over you. It's a sad life lesson, but you gotta learn when to let people have the power they are clutching because what they are holding onto is so insignificant.

Other times, you gotta stand up for yourself and say make me. Take the loss and let them bully you (required if you aren't going to bend from your most fundamental beliefs.)

I've always thought people would love to teach gifted kids. Didn't seem to be true. They told me they had me teaching the other kids, but it's like so what? That's fine, right? Helps us both.

The funny thing is... Norm MacDonald is always (unfairly) making fun of school teachers and saying they have the easiest job and they only have to be smarter than an x grader. Maybe that's some of their resentment, some people don't want to put in the extra work to deal with a child you can't stick in a corner.

But much love to everyone who took time out! Also teach kids to keep going and that eventually someone will stand up for them. Really, though, learning to just brute force through what the world calls 'bullying' is very important.

Because compromise isn't always an option, either, you make gifted kids compromise early (imo) you can give them complexes for life.

Etresia

Thank you.

Possible smart guy

This article was comforting in the way it covered its topic but i found this article while trying to research where i could find more intelligent people to mingle with this means this website is tagged or in someway associated with the googling of "where do the smart people go" which seems like a form of entrapment.

Heather

Yep - same thing happened to me. Maybe there are forces trying to keep us from taking over the world …. ;)

Just diagnosedsmart

I am 40, just went back to work after six years maternity leave, the Last six months has been harder at work than raising two kids 🤣

Possibly smarter gal

Haha yes it is a trap for all of the smart people who are looking for smarter people.

Miti

I’ve often viewed the cosmos as small spheres, I can see how they dance and jiggle when interacted with; how the greater system fits in place...

My mind has not changed since the age of 6

I see no limit to my intellectual hight.

Where do I find more like me?

Jack

Having the highest IQ is a gift but being smart totally different.

Bonnie Marshall

True that. I have been accused of thinking I'm better than them although I am a friendly person in general.

Amy

I was never attentive to the difference between the terms intelligent and smart until I read this comment. I learned now that people who call themselves "dumb" and compare themselves to smarter people don't realize that they have the ability to be as smart so long as they put in the work. However, with intelligence, it's a different story. As you say, one's level of intelligence is inborn and can be considered a gift.

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