Giftedness is a word that was thrown around quite a bit in my childhood. I don't agree with the idea that only children who excel in the arts or sciences or mathematics are gifted. Every accomplishment and ability is a gift. Imagine the pressure of having to always perform at proficient or beyond levels as young as age four. In preschool I remember being given private reading tests in which I was shown flash cards and I would read them. I did not know that other preschoolers could not see anything more than a jumble of unidentifiable letters. In elementary school I always felt that I worked much harder than my classmates. My teachers were supplementing my lessons with extra coursework to keep me busy. Upon taking an IQ test I was promptly transferred to a school for Gifted And Talented Education. Unfortunately unlike myself, my new classmates were well aware that they were "better" than other kids. They had been in the program all along, and immediately cast me as an outsider who came in late to the game. I had been bullied for not fitting in before, so this treatment was nothing unfamiliar to me. I took it as a challenge to prove myself better than the lot of them. I did make a few friend who were fellow rejects. Turns out we surpassed most of the students who looked down on us.
Much of our learning experience was simulation based. Instead of reading about the Oregon Trail, medieval days or privateering we reenacted it. As you can imagine, this had a significant impact on my ability to invent people, places and situations. I was good at each subject, but I excelled where creativity was the basis of the lesson. When I reached the age of report writing, and essays, I began to shine. This was not always a good thing. My teachers held me to higher standards than the others. Being a child I neither recognized nor understood why the adults were so hard on me. It started to break me down. I felt as if the world was weighing on me. Average was not good enough. I knew when I did not achieve the desired result. I struggled to turn in assignments, not because they were not doable, but because they did not feel strong enough. The more aware I became of my ability to surpass expectations, the more I wanted to be a normal kid. Fear of failure was a constant presence in my fragile mind.
It hit me like a wrecking ball when my father left. The chair and the vase narrowly missed my mom before he stormed out without saying goodbye. I had failed him. I knew in my heart that it was because I was not good enough. My pain should have been evident. My grades began to decline, despite the efforts of my teachers and mother. They were blind to the hurt I was feeling. Being intelligent had become a burden, because I was also naive. I convinced myself that the only way to fix things was to be perfect. This is a very dangerous mindset for a very imperfect child. I began to get into trouble for arguing. I had to be right even when I was wrong. The struggle for control over my own life spiraled dangerously out of control. The harder I tried to outshine the rest, the further I fell. My dad's return did little to brighten things up. Life was not and would never be the same. The inocent oblivion of childhood was gone. I only had one vice. I had to write. I jotted down the fits of rage that all but consumed me. I filled pages with morbid poetry and malevolent ideas. The darkness seeped from my fingertips as ink onto a page. Journal after journal carried my unholy thoughts. Thoughts of a girl not yet thirteen, but more weighed down than forty. Words that I did not know I knew wretched out of my heart. So much desolation lived inside of my pubescent self. Writing was theraputuc to me, and at times I felt almost happy when I put pen to paper. Things continued on in this way until I my parents found and read my diaries. Traditional therapy began immediately and would lead me down a path I will always be grateful for.
I carry with me a burden of a never silent mind. Ideas and words crowd my head and make me feel dizzy and exhausted. Some have implied to me that it is symptomatic of bipolar disorder. I am still not certain how I feel about such things. Being intelligent has been a heavy cross to bear. There is more to being smart than having a high IQ, and often times I have proven myself quite dumb despite all the tests and talents. At this stage in my life I am attempting to wise up. I have made poor choices, and ignored what was staring me in the face. I have disappointed those with high hopes for me. It has been hard on my heart knowing that I am not what everyone thought I would be. I have cried myself to sleep many nights in regret. For a number of years I was pulling away from my dreams, settling for average. I am not average, and after my spiritual recovery I have decided I will not put my dream on the backburner. God gave me the gift of words. They have gotten me into trouble and out of it. They have opened up new opportunities for me. What a disgrace it would be to discard such a beautiful thing. There is a reason I am happy when I am writing. It is what I am meant to do. I have much room to grow, and my stories will grow with me.