Loneliness: Often the Norm for Gifted/2e Children and Adults

It is extremely difficult to find someone who truly gets you in this world when you are gifted or twice exceptional. Rarely finding someone with whom you can relate or who makes you feel understood, inevitably leads to loneliness.
loneliness

If you are identified as gifted you have a cohort of roughly 2% of the population. Gifted people are gifted in different ways, and differ even within their level and type of giftedness. Those identified as “gifted” may differ dramatically from “highly gifted people” and highly gifted people may differ greatly from “profoundly gifted people.” Furthermore, 14% of the gifted population are identified with a learning difference or disability.[1]  These statistics confirm that it is extremely difficult to find someone who truly gets you in this world when you are gifted or twice exceptional. Rarely finding someone with whom you can relate or who makes you feel understood, inevitably leads to loneliness.

I remember when my kids were little I used to say, “you’re so lucky because no matter where you are, you always have your magnificent, creative, funny, interesting brain that will keep you entertained.” That was the best I could do. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to find a peer who could relate to their “out of the boxness,” their surprisingly touching connection to the environment, or share their existential thoughtfulness. I suspected that friends would be few and far between who understood their seemingly sensitive reactions to stimuli or guffaw at their quick and witty connections and punny observations.  When my son was in eighth grade his speech language pathologist asked me if he ever had a peer with whom he could truly relate.

The cruel irony is the gifted extrovert who craves social interaction but lacks the skills necessary to forge healthy connections. I often think about gifted and 2e introverts and whether some of their preferred silence is due to the infrequency with which other human beings understand them. In the case of the hopeful extroverts, in some ways, it’s even more painful to watch them crash and burn in social situations since they so desperately desire social connection.

Gifted and 2e kids become gifted and 2e adults and the statistics don’t change. Hopefully by adulthood they find at least one person with whom they can share their authentic inner thoughts and reactions. But, it’s possible that they learned as children to hide their true selves, and therefore risk forgetting how to be genuine with anyone – including themselves – therefore forging inauthentic relationships. All is not lost for those adults living a synthetic life, but it takes work to find and honor their true selves and begin developing connections and relationships based on who they really are.

When they’re young, gifted and 2e kids learn to keep to themselves or become actors to emulate what their peers say, do and like, so it’s less painful to go to school. They become true to others and not to themselves and eventually this leads to deep loneliness, a reliance on others to determine their thoughts and values, and self-doubt (“why do I feel so different” “why don’t I care about things my peers care about” “why doesn’t anyone care about what I care about?”)

In academics, not feeling understood or needing to process information differently leads to underachievement. Research shows that 25% of gifted people are underachievers, that they quit trying because nothing they do seems to lead to any measurable success or satisfaction.[2]  Children with an IQ of 133 appear in the population at a ratio of approximately 1:40. In general, an elementary school teacher could expect to encounter a child like this only every couple of years.[3]  So, this means that gifted and 2e kids are anomalies to teachers – further setting them apart and setting them up to fail if their sensitivities, thoughts or comments are misunderstood as attention seeking behaviors, rude or disrespectful.

Adding insult to injury, when underachievement occurs educators and parents often focus on remediation rather than talent development or a strengths-based approach. Emphasis on challenges results in a downward spiral where the child begins to only see his struggles and believes his strengths are not worth cultivating, or worse, that he doesn’t have any strengths.  Every teacher who has ever thought “I cannot enrich or engage this child until his behavior is under control” lost the opportunity to truly reverse the behavior. More consequences lead to more disillusionment and simultaneous feelings of negative self-worth and despondency. Focusing on talent, abilities and strengths develops resilience for kids to deal with their difficulties. The same is true for adults, and employers would do well to focus on their gifted and 2e employees’ abilities before discounting their contributions to the workplace.

People need to connect, we are social beings. We look to relate via similar interests. For gifted people – these interests are often not the interests of same-aged peers. This is why we see so many gifted and 2e kids connecting with adults. Human beings also connect over similar emotional responses. For gifted and 2e people these emotional responses are often “off the charts,” a much deeper, guttural reaction to the whole spectrum of emotions. These are reactions beyond the control of the gifted and 2e person so they try hard to quash their emotions. Have you ever spent an entire day trying to not be yourself? Lonely. Exhausting. Confusing. Demoralizing. When they get home they (kids or adults) are finally in a ‘safe’ place and often let loose on those they love because they can. It’s not rational, it’s not fair, it’s not fun, but it’s what they do because they’ve depleted their reserve.

Parents need bottomless vaults of empathy. They need to set aside their obsession with ‘respect’ and ‘you’re the child, I’m the grown up’ ways of thinking. They need to give space. Talk less. Listen more, even if this means sitting next to your child listening to silence while the debris in his head settles like snow in a snow globe.  This does not mean letting our kids “get away with anything.” It means strategically waiting to engage, allowing our kids to weather the storms in their heads, encouraging strategies like exercise, mindfulness, and creating opportunities for our children to shine and immerse themselves in an activity they truly love.

For spouses and employers, it means noticing and acknowledging what your gifted or 2e adult loved-one or colleague does right and well. It means letting him assist you or lead with things he is good at doing. It means sharing how you feel with your spouse or employee and having open conversations about needs and wants and honoring theirs and your own.

The best scenario is addressing gifted or 2e people’s emotional, intellectual and social needs when they are school-aged, in a holistic, child-centered approach. Providing a safe environment where the child can take risks is how we encourage him to be himself and feed his soul.  The back-up plan is to understand the gifted and 2e child all grown up – the gifted and 2e adult at home and in the workplace.  Addressing this adult is like addressing their childhood, working together to uncover years of hiding behind what other people wanted or expected, to rid oneself of self-doubt and deprecation in order to focus on the true person for who he is and embracing and celebrating his contributions at home and at work.

[1] Rogers, Karen B., Chapter 6: “Thinking Smart About Twice Exceptional Learners: Steps for Finding Themand Strategies for Catering to Them Appropriately.” Dual Exceptionality. Ed. Catherine Wormald and Wilma Vialle. Australia: University of Wollongong Printery, 2011, pp. 57-70

[2] Adapted from The Gifted Kids Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook, Galbraith, Judy and Delisle, Jim, 2011.

[3] Gross, Miraca Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted Students: An Underserved Population, http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/underserved.htm.

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Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., is the Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, through which she passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and collaborates with and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-confidence in their students and clients.

20 Responses

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful article. My 14-year old 2e son is extroverted, with an IQ of 140 and NLD (nonverbal learning disability). He has gone to numerous schools- including charter, public, LD, therapeutic – and various summer camps over the years. He has made some friends, including kids that are NT, 2e, ADHD, and Aspergers. The friendships with other 2e kids have been the most successful, though they are hard to find, and sometimes, depending on the personalities, they irritate and repel each other. My son is at his first year at a small mainstream boarding high school that is of very high academic caliber. While he is thriving intellectually, loving finally getting to learn at school, he has no friends. He says he is happy, but my heart is aching for this very friendly, socially challenged teen. While the other kids pile into one kid’s room and hang out, he goes to his single, closes the door and watches YouTube. As asynchronistic developmemt makes him more immature than his 9th grade NT peers, I’m hoping next year’s incoming class will provide more opportunities for friendship, even one person that will come knocking on his door. In the meantime, he is satisfied with being stimulated academically in a way in which he has never been before, which is a huge blessing. We are thankful that he has had only one emotional outburst since being there, when a group project became overwhelming, and he quickly apologized to his teacher. This level of success could never have been possible even a year ago. Baby steps. Thanks, again.

    1. Thank you for sharing! Recognizing how far he has come and deciding to prioritize academic stimulation over social integration is important. I hope next semester and the fall – with incoming younger students – will provide some peers for your son.

    2. Does having only one social outburst mean he is doing better than when he expressed his frustrations outwardly more often? Being a teen with no friends sounds more stressful than anything else he’s gone through, I’d encourage expression, not discourage it, as it’s likely still there, the pain and frustrations, twofold…he’s just internalizing it and could turn to self harm or other nonhealthy strategies.

  2. Hi Julie, our Son has just been assessed and confirmed as exceptionally gifted, and we are now working with his school to enhance his learning program. We love him dearly and he is a kind and big-hearted boy (8 years old), but every day is very hard work and we feel we are failing him by our use of traditional parenting approaches – which work perfectly with our two daughters. We don’t yet know if he is twice exceptional, as the child psych wants to ensure he is adequately challenged at school before making a call on this – but we can’t wait, we desperately want to improve the way we help him mange his emotions and cooperate, but we just don’t know where to start – we just want him to be happy! Please can you help us out in some way.

    1. So glad it resonated. We have to remember to find “interest peers” rather than age peers. That helps.

  3. I find it difficult to forge meaningful relationships with others; after all, I have the misfortune of being a 2e learner (I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was a child) and I happen to be unduly peculiar, too ebullient, much too ”angsty”, don’t get me started with how dramatic I am, – oh, and disinterested in what doesn’t obssess me… (I want to be interested, I really do try).

    What makes it difficult for me to connect with others is that people either (a) use small talk as a means to create a sense of innitial rapport with others, which will, eventually (and by – eventually – I mean: perhaps in some months), lead to deeper conversation topics, and (b) use me to further their careers. I haven’t met anyone (in years) who wants to actually get to know ME.

    In fact, I was dating a nice Psychologist some months ago, – his exchanges with me never varied, and he was a intelligent man but a dull conversationalist (I tried to stir the conversation in the directions I wanted it to go… nonetheless, I failed miserably). Now, do not roll your eyes at me, I am young and stupid girl (I’m only 23, although I both feel like a sixteen year old and a thirty-year-old woman), so, I tend to keep things to myself instead of verbalizing my unease. The thing is, he was brilliant, but an intelligent partner + another intelligent partner – Chemistry will not ever equate to a happy relationship, either. So, to complicate things, a friend or partner must have 1. adequate levels of intelligence in order to have fullfilling exchanges; 2. similar yet not completely overlapping interests to mine, otherwise it might be boring… and so and so. Oh, and he or she must be (at the very least) psychologically appealing to me.

    Now, don’t go thinking that I am a loner. In fact, I do have some… acquaintances. The problem is that we don’t even talk about ”big” topics (I seek them out, they seek me out… but our exchanges are somewhat bland, as they do not find joy in what holds my interest and vice-versa.)

    So, how can I connect with others when there is this gap that separates me from the rest? I see how everybody befriends others much too easily, – and here I am, scratching my forehead and wondering how they do it.

    What can I do? I want to cry, – scratch that, – I am crying.

    Greetings,

    R.G.S.

    On a side-note: Sorry beforehand for any grammatical mistake, – I am not a native.

  4. Yep. 2e adult here. My parents dropped the ball hard and after elemetary school teachers would praise me occasionally but that was the extent of it. I was basically ignored my whole childhood by adults because I was not disruptive at school, and acted out at home and was treated as an annoyance. I was never told what on earth I should do with myself, was never guided or mentored and I was constantly bored and lonely. I eventually quit going to school just so I could drive around all day because I found that more stimulating than a classroom.. and nearly flunked out. What I’m left with in my mid thirties is nothing really to show for it all of note and I have come to accept that I don’t want to maintain friendships. I would rather just be a normal person at this point, I don’t relate to anyone and my intelligence hasn’t really benefited me in any objective way.

    1. Thank you for being brave and sharing this. I hope you find things in life that bring you joy and that you can spend meaningful time doing them. You may want to check out sengifted.org for some excellent resources and essays that will likely resonate.

  5. I just read this article on 2e. I had never heard of it before now. Thank you so much.
    I left school at 15. I got the grades to stay but it was such an exhausting effort to remain still for one-hour intervals. My mind would not stop racing. That final year, I had trouble showing up for anything. I was either drunk or asleep.
    I had also suffered depression since early childhood — which continued into adulthood. My earliest memories — from before the age of eight — were big existential thoughts: why am I here? Does God exist? In what shape or form? Is there any point to life?
    By my late teens, I was in serious trouble with alcohol. At the age of 19, I was resuscitated. A Volvo estate struck me, and my heart stopped. Fortunately, a nurse at the scene revived me with chest compressions.
    When I was able to walk again, I left Belfast and travelled to the US for a year, then to London, thinking I might escape my head. All of those things, I took with me: a racing brain, loneliness, a feeling that I couldn’t express myself, clinical depression, low mood, mood changes, aggression, impulsivity, a need for danger, a need for excitement, a need to mood alter, a deep understanding of and connection to nature, and no common sense.
    When I returned home to Belfast, I took up night class. I always felt better at night.
    I then went to university to study science. Taking written examinations was pure hell. I just could not get on paper what I knew. At 30, I somehow graduated.
    My drinking was now completely out of control.
    Throughout my teens, twenties, and early thirties I was a regular visitor at A&E, mostly drunk, mostly concussed. A nurse, who worked there for 30 years, told me I was a ‘regular’.
    At 31 I suffered a brain tumour. Successful surgery removed a golf ball sized tumour which had bled into my frontal lobes.
    Upon ‘recovery’ I segued into dual addiction: drink and prescription drugs.
    At 38, I quit drinking. And I began to write.
    So, I took an MA, with a literary bursary awarded for a short story I wrote about compulsivity. Then I moved on to a PhD. But I hit more trouble. Perfectionism, drug addiction, depression, insomnia, the effects of the brain tumour, and the constricted critical writing that comes with taking a doctorate, saw me crash.
    I was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. I also have dyspraxia.
    As part of the test I took for dyslexia, I was given verbal IQ test. I got a score of 140+. The examiner walked me out of the building, shook my hand, and wished me good luck. He said, in all the years he had been testing, he had never before had someone get a perfect verbal IQ score. I felt two things when he said that: pride & sadness.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s been quite a journey and I am grateful that you are able to “look back” and look forward. Pride and sadness sums it up because there is no template for being a 2e child or a 2e adult. Each experience is tainted with loneliness and wondering and because 2e people start out with such high hopes to “make a difference” “understand what it’s all about” and “find a way to fix injustices” we can end in an existential tailspin. The most important first step is to exercise self love and appreciation for your talents and strengths. I am so hopeful you can do that.

  6. I found this article after a pretty depressing night of listening to music and reading in my car. I am almost 18 years old and I am a gifted individual.

    For as long as I can remember I have always been unique, and in all of my existence I have never met a single person who’s like me. I was a really bright kid; speaking paragraphs non-stop by age 2, reading chapter books at age 5, watching national geographic and discovery channel documentaries instead of kids television shows. I used to walk around with a kids encyclopedia and cite facts about green tree frogs in the Amazon Forest, or ancient Roman warriors, or whatever else interested me at the moment (which was essentially everything). Wherever I went people would say I’m so smart, and my mom would always try to hide my uniqueness (because she, like my grandmother, believed that making others jealous would give you ‘bad karma’), saying I was a year or two older than I was so I wouldn’t seem all too exceptional. My mom, being a teacher, taught me lessons in math, Hebrew (her native language), and English every day after school. She would sign up my siblings and I to a multitude of different extracurricular activities: swimming, soccer, basketball, baseball, chess, piano, etc.. During that early period in my life I felt like I really thrived. I wasn’t the ‘popular kid’ but I definitely had friends, some close and others less, but all equally normal and still socially stimulating. Even then, at what could relatively be considered my peak, I suffered from a lack of academic stimulation. I would come home every day, starting from grade 2, and say I was bored at school, that we never learned anything new or challenging, and that I aced every single assessment in every single class so easily it was killing me. My parents, coming from a rather conservative background, and having literally no awareness whatsoever as to what giftedness meant or required, were overjoyed. They were happy having a child who got perfect grades and had strong social skills. In retrospect there is so much more that they could have done for me; which would probably have saved me so much struggle later on in life, but ruminating on the possibilities and being ungrateful for what were generally pretty exceptional parents (just not exceptional enough) won’t get me anywhere.

    In the third grade I took the gifted test, and was identified as ‘extremely gifted’ or above the 99th percentile score; finally the solution to all my problems, right? Wrong. The gifted program, while slightly more intellectually stimulating than ‘mainstream’ as we called it, was still far from sufficient. The teachers had little to no understanding of who a gifted child is, what they feel, how they experience the world or how much intellectual stimulation they need. Looking back I think, if only they could’ve gotten someone, literally anyone, who was gifted to teach the class. I obviously understand that, practically speaking, it could never have happened because there just aren’t that many gifted people, let alone those who want to become elementary school teachers, to go around. Adding to the problem, was the sad realization that most of the kids who passed the gifted test weren’t even what I would consider gifted. Were they intelligent? Yes. Were they above average? Also, yes. But did they think differently, feel differently or have different needs? Not at all. I was in the gifted program from grade 3 into grade 8, eventually in high school I deviated to another program, but I’ll get to that. In grades 7 and 8 I really met my maker. Nothing could have prepared my hyper, ADHD mind for what was next. Nothing. I faced the absolute worst thing I believe any gifted child transitioning into adulthood could face: the complete and utter lack of academic and social stimulation. When I say complete believe me, I mean complete. I had the most horrible teacher in the history of teachers. From first period until last period we essentially did nothing. This fat cat, sitting on 40 years of ‘teaching experience’, would knowingly and wantonly photocopy 2 pages of the science, math, English or whatever other subject textbook and give it to each student at the beginning of each 1 and a half hour period. Every student, and I mean every student, would finish the two pages of this sorry excuse for an educational resource in exactly 2 minutes, then sit bored out of their minds for the rest of the 1 hour and 28 minutes. During these 2 years, for the first time in my life, my intellectual development essentially stagnated. My parents, who after finally getting my older sister through her bachelors degree and into medical school, had let go of the pressure. No more fun courses, weekly trips to the museum, no more lessons (not that they could teach me much more in terms of science, math or literature). To make matters worse, I was an ‘intellectual jock’ (weird combo I know, look for that in pop culture, doesn’t exist), so when the intellectual piece was gone, I would try and find athletic friends to play sports with or talk soccer games or basketball, except that I didn’t have anyone. My school had only one gifted class, the same class each year, and all of the girls were you know, girls, and they talked about totally different things from the boys (girly tv shows, models, whatever); the boys, on the other hand, were all video game fanatics. The only thing they would talk about, all day, was video games: dozens of them. I had one friend who was kind of in between, but soon enough even he surrendered to the gamer. By the middle of my grade seven school year my classroom would look like this: on one side of the room the girls would sit around the lab benches and talk about Once Upon A Time (weird tv show), on the other side of the room the boys would be huddled under the tables in the corner (it sounds like a weird spot but it was actually not bad in real life) watching the two kids who had laptops playing Osu (rapid clicking game) and talking league of legends. Then there was me, completely out of place, standing in the middle, maybe bouncing once or twice between the two groups. I vividly remember the week before winter break; I got in an argument with another kid about whether or not video games could be esports, considering that they weren’t sports. I put together some clever insults about how nerds played them in their mothers’ basements, but guess what? On the last night of winter break I gave in and I downloaded League of Legends, the most popular game in the world (100 million monthly users worldwide). From then on my life went down hill…

    (Part 1)

  7. (Part 2)

    My savagely hyper, compulsive, impulsive, addictive ADHD brain, which had been completely deprived of adequate stimulation for months, latched on tight. I played 12 hours a day every day; I would wake up at 5am just to play 3 hours before I would have to leave for school. My parents, who only ever knew their well behaved, academic child, had absolutely no idea. For months I got away with ridiculous hours of play. I would now sit every day with the huddle of other boys and talk only about League of Legends (it is absolutely unbelievable how complex and challenging this game is). When I got home I would run upstairs and jump online. Immediately, I would have friends to play with until at least 11pm. It was during this period of time that I finally began to tank; my grades dropped into the 80s (for me that’s rock bottom, what you get when you literally haven’t put in an ounce of effort) and with them my sense of self-worth (because my conservative parents taught me that academics, and specially marks, were the most important thing in the world). I would wake up every single morning for the next 4 years with multiple alarms at ridiculous times (3am, 3:05am, 3:10am…). I almost instantaneously began drowning in the bottomless abyss that is procrastinating. First doing assignments at 10pm the night before, then 11pm, then 12pm, then 4am, then 5am, then 6am, then finally, on the way to school. I was helplessly and uncontrollably addicted. My parents finally found out by November of grade 8; aren’t they so emotionally in touch with their children? They had pathetically little knowledge about addiction; if it was me, I would have read a book about varying addictions or addictions in adolescence, but they didn’t. They did what their parents before them did, they fought against rebelliousness with brute force. They forcibly shut of the internet, hid the router, had screaming matches, gave out the odd slap or push (fantastic emotional maturity for 40 year olds) and essentially did nothing to help me. In fact, they made video games my only solace in the world. I had my first major failure that year, I didn’t get into the best IB school in our board, I got into the second best (well second out of 10, so not really that good). They all started to look at me differently, my brother, my sister, my parents, my friends. Like I was something to be pitied, even though, and I say this with absolute objective sincerity and honesty, I am so much smarter than they could ever hope to be. But I didn’t necessarily know that yet, I didn’t understand the fact that I was different, I just struggled with it alone.

    I went to an IB program at the second best school in the province, which actually proved to be quite a change. Teachers were handpicked and specially trained in this program, adding to the fact that many of them had more than one degree in their subject of expertise. Many of the teachers were passionate and challenging; I honestly owe a lot of the good parts of my high school experience to them. Unfortunately, it was already too late. I was still addicted to league of legends, and despite my efforts to quit, the addiction would persist on and off until grade 11. My procrastination only got worse; I swear I started writing a 700 word grade 11 English essay on my phone in the car on the way to school, then finished it in the library and printed it before first period when it was due (I got an 85). Procrastination was literally killing me! I woke up every single day with alarms between 3am to 6am every five minutes, I would wake up, turn them off then go to bed and repeat every 5 minutes! Every mark that I got made me feel worse about myself and fed my self doubt. I couldn’t live with myself anymore. At the end of my grade 10 year my procrastination climaxed, I woke up that morning at 4am to begin studying for my math exam at 9am because my life always depended on getting 100 (surprise, surprise, I rarely got 100); I didn’t have it in me, for the first time in my life I gave up completely. From that day forward my descent into depression began.

    For the next two years I struggled with episodes of depression, missing up to three weeks of school, losing up to ten pounds each time (which is a lot for someone who is already so skinny he gets called a stick by his grandparents). I wouldn’t be able to get up out of bed each morning, every night I would have crippling anxiety for hourly periods, thinking I was actually going to die and my life was over. I cried daily: in the shower (45 minute showers because hot water calmed me down), in bed, in my closet, even outside my school. Slowly, during my grade 12 first semester, I started to realize that I need help. I began to read books and articles about mental health, and to see a counselor weekly. I tried various drugs, some for ADHD, some for anxiety, some for depression; nothing helped. Throughout this whole period of time, I continued to get 80s, fake that I was okay, and barely survive each day. I continued to serve as president of my school’s two biggest competitive clubs: debate and DECA. I ran meetings every day after school, gave lecture to younger students, taught lessons, judged mock rounds and had the entire 9th and 10th grade looking up to me. Even as I write this the little voice in my head screams out, ” THAT MEANS NOTHING, YOU FAILED AT ___ AND ___ AND ___, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.” I put so much pressure on myself to succeed, that I never got a chance to properly evaluate my life and try something new.

    I am currently in my grade 12 summer; I took the second semester of grade 12 off (meaning I will graduate a year later than my peers) and slowly began to improve. I read a lot of books, not just on mental health, but books in general. They gave me new perspective on life and encouraged me to let go of my inner demons. I still haven’t completely recovered, I don’t now if I ever will, but I know I am making progress. I work 4 times a week, I read for 3 to 4 hours daily, I also sing daily (a habit I picked up while depressed). I still hang out with friends once or twice a weak and play sports a couple of times a week (forgot to mention that I hadn’t played sports since my video game addiction began in grade 7). I still struggle with procrastination, anxiety and the whole arsenal of negative emotions daily, but objectively I am improving.

    I decided to write this because I am feeling very lonely and isolated. Everywhere I go, no matter whose face I am looking at I feel different, like I don’t belong, like I’ll never belong. Nobody understands me, nobody thinks like me, nobody can really make me feel like i’m not alone. The one friend I have who may be like me, or as close as anyone has gotten thus far, is a gifted introvert, which is the exact opposite of my extroversion. I doubt whether or not she really is like me because I just can’t understand why someone like me wouldn’t literally spring on the opportunity to finally truly connect with someone. I mastered the art of social interaction in high school; I can fit in with any crowd, make friends no matter where I go, give a speech on the spot at any moment, to any audience, and change my communication habits (vocabulary, grammar structures and nonverbal mannerisms) to fit most types of people. No matter what, I always feel alone, like I never get to be genuine or not fake. Any time I get ‘weak’ and let my genuine self out a bit, I feel like people look at me like I’m weird and crazy, I always vow never to do it again. I want to cry whenever I think about living life alone. I don’t think I could ever marry someone who doesn’t understand me, or have kids knowing they might not be like me either. I just wish I could talk to someone about this, but the only gifted specialists in my area are not covered by our sorry excuse for ‘universal healthcare’ or my parents’ family insurance plan. I left out so much in the story I’m now considering going back, but maybe i’ll just add it here. I like every subject, I know inside that I can change the world, that I could become the best artist, the best writer, the best physicist, the best engineer, the best musician, the best at whatever I went into. I know deep inside, but I also don’t know, because the logic in me screams that there is no evidence. I haven’t performed at my ‘maximum potential’ in so long that I don’t even know if it’s there anymore. When I read books on particle physics, or astronomy or literature I feel like it is. But when I go home and night falls I don’t know any more; when I look at people’s faces, or lie about why I took my semester off, I don’t know anymore. I feel like I’m either a genius or a failure or both, but either way I’ll never be who I want to be and nobody can help me live with that. I’m so tired of being my own psychologist, I’m so tired of trying and failing.

    Anyway… I am too tired to conclude this, it made me feel a bit better to say it out loud, but of course nothing will ever change. Good night!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story and experience. I am sure that many people will relate and see aspects of themselves in your comments. I am glad we are connected via email and that we’ve started a dialogue with resources and suggestions. The bottom line of what we’ve spoken about is learning as much as you can, understanding meaningful connections and giving yourself a break. 2e folks tend to be hard on themselves via perfectionism, expectations, and feeling as though they are the only ones on the planet experiencing their emotions and disconnection. As I mentioned, you are a rare gem, but a gem nonetheless and there is a treasure trove, albeit a small one – I have no doubt that you will find meaningful connections through your research and exposing yourself to areas of interest. Always be open to finding other gems out there.

  8. Hello, I am 16 and a sophomore at high school. I have ADHD, dyslexia, and dyscalcula. I was held back in second grade due to my inability to read, in fact. On the other side, i am brilliant. As a child i relied upon the discovery channel so as to remain stimulated, and the occasional encyclopedia. I read books that my teachers could never possibly begin to understand, yet they label me as inadequate. My mind is so terribly fast i can hardly keep up with it, and i have sunk into this cavernous, inescapable depression. You analyze everything, you know everything, you see everything- when nobody else does. It doesn’t stop, it will NEVER stop.. Well, that’s what i was convinced of until five months ago. My mind escaped my brain somehow and… I’ve lost myself. Most of the people in these comments-whom i relate to tremendously- have already endured the insufferably of school. You know how indescribably lonely it gets. How your friends, should you have any, would label you as ‘arrogant’ or ‘callus’. But my god, they will NEVER understand what it is like to be imprisoned by your own mind, truly imprisoned. The horrible bit is that I feel although i have developed ‘Stockholm syndrome’, where i have fallen in love with my own prisoner. I love my mind, and i want her back. Fellow black sheep, i am still in school. I still have a chance. I have fallen in ‘The Abyss’, and embarrassingly i admit that i require assistance. Somebody of whom i can relate to, that’s all i need.

    Of course, this was inevitable. I’ve known for quite some time that this was destined to occur. This happens to all of us and i am no exception. Strange, isnt it? How even life has its exceptions but we do not. It is almost devastating how the Universe allowed for a species so predictably inconsistent and sloppy as Humanity to survive. That exception in an unbelievably uniform cosmos… We are perhaps the only exception to the exception rule: there are no exceptions for intelligent individuals, the Abyss is always inevitable. Lovely.

    (also, i formally apologize for not capitalizing my ‘i’s)

    1. Hi Emma, thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings. You are unique – everyone is, but your uniqueness includes the ability to make connections lightening fast and therefore to see inevitability and beauty and pain – all so intensely. The first step is to recognize this about yourself, which you have done. The next step is to find things that you LOVE – like the Discovery channel and books. If you can find something you can do to help others, this will likely give you great satisfaction, as well. Maybe marry your love for science and discovery with being a docent volunteer at a museum, or perhaps volunteering in a hospital or senior home. Often for twice exceptional people, giving to the world helps to feel grounded. You will undoubtedly be bored in school – I’ve always said to my own children, wait until college and grad school when you can study what you want at a level that is appropriate for you. It’s a hard wait and finding what to do before then is so hard because of how you feel different. I am so happy that you recognize how wonderful and beautiful your brain is, and I hope you continue to discover wonderful ways it can open doors for you.

  9. And believe me, i understand how dreadfully young i must sound. You may feel as though you’re a part of some great, big dramatic irony where i am unaware of my inevitable devastation. Please, do not feel guilty for this- you do not know something that i do not regarding the future, nor is there a god in existence to contemplate it.

    It is not an option, my success. It is something i must do, despite these immense odds. i know people like us usually do not get anywhere. We drop out of school and live on in regret. But this, unlike The Abyss, is not inevitable. I know i can do it, but i must learn how.

    1. Actually Emma, you sound quite wise. The hardest thing for 2e people is to not get in their own way. That is the devastation. Because of your intense abilities, you experience intense disabilities – fear of failure, existential depression, unfairness…

      I am buoyed by your determination.

  10. Thank you for writing this. My 6-year old is a wonderful, imaginative, expressive and intense little girl who never hesitates to walk up to kids and ask them to play. But, she has ODD and can’t seem to sustain her friendships. She is often physically violent with kids in her class if she feels frustrated or angry and is in a chronic state of fight or flight. She is also socially aggressive with other kids – even with those who haven’t done anything to her. Sadly, she is becoming a bit of a bully.

    It’s truly heartbreaking to us as parents. I know her potential and how she really is a loving kid when she wants to be. As a parent, I am often ashamed of her behaviour and have often been blamed for it by daycares and teachers who don’t understand her. We received her ODD diagnosis in Kindergarten and I was relieved. But, we struggle to help her.

    I know all it will take is a special relationship with one friend or one teacher that inspires her to make all the difference. As a parent, you never want to see your child struggle. But, I do take comfort in that we are not alone and there are resources. So, thank you.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. There are many reasons other than a“oppositional defiant disorder” diagnosis for your child’s behavior. So many characteristics, sensitivities and other invisible and environmental aspects could be causing emotion dysregulation. Please feel free to schedule a free 20 min consultation at JulieSkolnick.youcanbook.me to discuss further. In the meantime, keep enjoying and feeding her strengths and talents!

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