Wednesday, 5 November 2014

One Question About Giftedness I'll Never Be Able To Answer

The past week has really brought back to me rather unpleasant memories of trying to deal with being gifted, most of them school-related. Of failing at one level of education and going down a level to try it there, only to find out that it made things only much, much worse. Of grasping the basics of string and M (membranes) theory, not to mention a profound interest in the principles behind faster than light travel by space-time folding (using a space-time 'bubble'), while nearly flunking the basic Newtonian physics classes and performing poorly at best with highschool-level mathematics.

Much of my life seems to consist out of others as well as myself asking me why I can't just do those simple things if I apparently understand much more complex things so well. That's really the core question: Why do I have such an incredible hard time doing anything simple if I'm so smart?

Only answer I have found so far is, while truthful, a rather simplistic 'because it's boring'. I described this in the previous post as well to some extent. I always feel this pull to focus on cool, shiny, highly complex projects. Something involving high-level mathematics and complex engineering processes, doing something I preferably haven't done before yet to create something awesome and amazing which approaches sheer magic. Things like human-level AI, a new, superior processor architecture or artificial organs matching or exceeding the capabilities of their organic counterparts. You know, things which are quite possible if you just spend some time and effort on it.

For me to function on a daily basis involves a lot of pulling myself away from the tasks I enjoy to do the boring, menial tasks. Like eating. Or getting the mail. Or sleeping. That's not to say that they have to be tasks I dreamed up myself to be interesting, though. If someone points me to a project or task where I feel I can challenge myself in some way that's just fine too. Even assembling some Ikea furniture works well at times. Those can be vicious projects, as many can attest to.

It's still hard to explain this properly, though. Heck, I cannot even properly grasp it myself what I'm really trying to say here. Why can't I do simple things? Why do I get distracted so easily if not challenged? What exactly draws me in a task? What is challenging and interesting to me? What motivates and demotivates me?

Supposedly I'm really smart. While I don't like IQ numbers, the results of the test I took at a Dutch institute many years ago combined with some additional research would place me somewhere pretty high, with a wide distribution of things I'm really good at, only limited by my 'crippled' auditory skills as a result of being a purely visual learner. I'm a complete autodidact, have photographic memory and tend to be very independent. Yet this appears to be all just a handicap when it comes to daily life.

In the case of giftedness it's, as many have said before me, a matter of living in a different plane of existence. It's like you can see more than others, see connections and possibilities they can't. You can see this big, beautiful world, nay, universe of options around you, but you feel crushed every time you realize that it's just you seeing it. Every time you have to work in 'their' plane of existence you feel downcast, out of place and quickly demotivated. You just want to go back to your own plane, your own place of being.

Even as I write the above I feel like it'd just seem like gobbly-gook nonsense to many reading it. It's more of a way to visualize and describe what I feel and what I have heard others like me describe before. The feeling of not really belonging in society, of having no interest in 'common' tasks, of always seeking the next intellectual challenge, of never picking something 'easy'.

In some ways it's good, but also terrible for me to realize all of this so clearly again. As if me having been born with a super-unusual body wasn't enough to make me feel not quite part of human society - especially after the treatment I got because of it - my giftedness has always been that 'thing' which I have. Even as a young child I was always the quick learner, the technical-minded one, the one who got always jokingly referred to as 'the professor'. I also always had to hear how high people's expectations were of me. I have no idea how highly people thought or still think of me, but I always feel like I haven't lived up to any of their expectations, never mind any of my own.

I didn't pick to be born intersex. I didn't pick to be born gifted. I didn't pick this society which deals very poorly with either. It's my burden and curse which I'll somehow have to learn to live with. Explaining it to others so that they can maybe understand me better would be a good first step.


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