Hi there Psych2Goers, this is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare practitioner, or mental health professional if you are struggling.
Gifted is often a word we hear in school. Typically we associate these people as the kids that receive straight A’s, prestigious academic awards, and extensive recognition from teachers and peers. However, this isn’t always the case as there are many individuals who possess amazing capabilities that go unnoticed. These people have the same unique abilities and challenges of other gifted people, but may slip through the cracks due to their differences in other areas. To better explore the topic of giftedness, in this article, we’ll be looking at nine signs you are gifted.
Please note that giftedness is usually identified by a mental health professional through identification/testing. If you find yourself relating to these signs and want to learn more, please reach out to a professional for further action.
What Is Giftedness?
Giftedness does not have a precise definition as different viewpoints exist depending where you are. Generally speaking, a gifted person is referred to as someone with an exceptional IQ above the 95th percentile (Turner 2013). The term may also apply to people with extraordinary potential in a given field, usually art, music, performing, or academic (Paradise Valley Unified School District 2019). Usually, a person is identified as gifted through a test administered in the school system. However, a variety of factors can lead to a school missing some students – whether it’s a learning disability, underachievement, or plain lack of training in giftedness education, among others can miss the signs in these students. A gifted individual is different from childhood into adulthood, and thus is faced with unique issues, if not identified, that may be misinterpreted as other conditions (Turner 2013).
1. You are Extremely Curious
It is a saying that “bright” students answer the questions and gifted students ask questions about the answers (Taibbi 2012). You may be highly curious about the world around you and want to learn more than what’s offered in a school curriculum. Perhaps you are deeply engaged with your material and want to understand concepts from every angle. Gifted learners work to understand the nuances and complexities of a given topic and apply it to their interests beyond what is expected out of their peers (Windhorst 2020).
2. You are a Fast Learner
School for a gifted learner can be a breeze; you understand the material exceptionally well and with little effort. As a child you may have learned to read at levels far beyond your grade. Maybe you were able to do so before kindergarten! While it may seem that these are the straight A students, it’s not always the case. Gifted learners often need more intellectual stimulation than what’s offered in the classroom. The material may seem too easy, too repetitive, and unimaginative, which can create issues as you feel under-challenged. Actually, many gifted students will underachieve in school because of this with many choosing to drop-out. While gifted individuals love learning, you need to have your education adapted to your learning ability to reach your true potential (Paradise Valley Unified School District 2019).
3. You are Intense
Gifted people are usually described as intense. Many gifted people have overexcitabilities which affect how you perceive and interact with the world. These overexcitabilities encompass several areas and are salient for the individual experiencing them. For instance, if you have a psycho-motor overexcitability, you may have extraordinary energy with difficulties sitting still and quiet. Similarly, if you have an emotional overexcitability, you can feel a broad spectrum of emotions rather strongly in a situation – often much more so than the average person. Additionally, you may have extraordinary empathy and intuition. The other areas that you may experience overexcitabilities in are: sensual, intellectual, and imaginational (Lind 2011).
4. You are a Perfectionist
Do you tend to set high standards for yourself in order to achieve greatness? You care deeply about your work and want it to be as polished as possible. While your talents may be easy to recognize by others as talent, it is usually the result of extreme focus and dedication. This has its downside however, as you may overwork yourself leading to burnout. Gifted children often have what’s considered asynchronous development meaning that while you may be highly proficient in one area, you can lag behind in others. A gifted student may be an exceptional violinist with a keen ear for nuances in music far beyond their peers, but lag behind in emotional control, leading to burnout among other physical/mental health issues (Turner 2013).
5. You Have a Broad Range of Interests
Life is full of possibilities and new things to discover. While many people will gravitate towards a given passion, for others, it’s not that simple. Gifted individuals tend to find it difficult to stick with one topic and will bounce around from interest to interest. You may have several different projects going on at the same time that are very different from one another. As an adult, it may be hard to stick with a given career path given your eclectic skill-set (Turner 2013).
6. You Have an Intense Imagination
Gifted people, especially those with a strong interest in the arts, often have extraordinary imaginations and creativity; you can synthesize connections between seemingly unrelated ideas in an original way. While this may be present throughout the day, at night, gifted people tend to experience vivid and bizarre dreams – more so than the people around them. Gifted children tend to have multiple imaginary friends. You also tend to keep their rich inner worlds with them as you grow into an adult (Azpeitia 2019).
7. You are Self Directed
Gifted people love to explore ideas through self-initiated projects. In school, you may continue your work outside of class aside from what is assigned. This strong drive to create that comes from within. Your drive is a large factor of who you are, thus you need to pursue your passions for fulfillment. However, as your interests may be limitless and time is limited, you may bounce around from project to project; starting one after the other, maybe without even finishing the prior one (Azpeitia 2019).
8. You are Eccentric
Because gifted people tend to think differently from others, you may stand out against your peers. Your intensities and idiosyncrasies can become a target for criticism. You may feel like an outcast and thus struggle to find people like yourself. In school it is common to be misdiagnosed with other conditions such as, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and bipolar among others. While some traits of giftedness may have some parallels with another condition, these conditions don’t truly capture your experience. If you have a learning disability or are from an underrepresented background, you may especially be ostracized and your gifts unrecognized (Lind 2011).
9. You Love Ideas
Gifted people are fascinated with ideas. You may love to debate, discuss, and ponder the world around you. You also may have a strong sense of justice, a keen eye for logistics, or a sensitivity to the more abstract aspects of human existence. Gifted people have a thirst for knowledge that is insatiable and often requires a suitable environment for you to explore your interests. For students, you may find solace in a gifted and talented program/school that are trained to accommodate to your needs. For adults, finding the same comfort takes finding environments suitable for their needs (Windhorst 2020).
Giftedness shows itself in many forms that very well are missed in school. These unidentified intellectuals and creatives possess many of the same qualities of their identified peers, but may be in a system that fails to acknowledge them. As schools often miss identifying these people, many gifted children grow up into gifted adults with unique challenges that may be mistaken for others. Speaking with the right mental health professional can be a great first step to improving your quality of life. What are your thoughts on giftedness? Are you gifted? Do you relate to any of these signs? Let us know in the comments!
- Azpeitia, L. (2019). Characteristics of Gifted Adults. Gifted, Talented & Creative Adults. gifted-adults.com/characteristics-of-gifted-talented-creative-adults
- Kuzujanakis, M. (2016, October 14). The Intensities of Giftedness. HuffPost. www.huffpost.com/entry/the-intensities-of-gifted_b_8134926?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAMjmh8fjREp3JMQdSmrN69C494GMly877vtfl8tjBTTFSo4cPtUF19EaGA6KLBUGPKA19KG_b0zFoel7JNgu0LR_4ymXAbyweLJGjWpcKXVUHZCIT8_50LiR6qMV-cBjfyhgFCKqvjmByN5H5AIgvF7IvQxj633fyM7nkhT_aWyd
- Lind, S. (2011, September 14). Overexcitability and the Gifted. SENG. www.sengifted.org/post/overexcitability-and-the-gifted
- Paradise Valley Unified School District. (2019). Characteristics and Signs of Giftedness | Paradise Valley Unified School District. www.pvschools.net/academics/academic-programs/gifted-programs/gifted-education-parent-resources/characteristics-and
- Prior, A. (2019, August 14). 5 Definitions of Giftedness. Institute for Educational Advancement. educationaladvancement.org/blog-5-definitions-of-giftedness/
- Taibbi, C. (2012, January 29). “Bright Child” vs. “Gifted Learner”: What’s the Difference? PsychologyToday. www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/gifted-ed-guru/201201/bright-child-vs-gifted-learner-whats-the-difference
- Turner, P. (2013, January 17). Can you describe the characteristics of gifted adults? TunerPsychologyCalagary. turnerpsychologycalgary.com/giftedness/characteristics-of-gifted-adults/
- Windhorst, E. (2020, January 1). Gifted adult characteristics. Eric Windhorst, PhD – Counselling & Therapy in Hamilton, ON. www.ericwindhorst.ca/resources/on_being_gifted/gifted-adult-characteristics/