I recently spoke with Ariane of Lotus Bridge and blogger extraordinaire at Neat and Simple Living. I was inspired to write a response to her blog on ADHD/Gifted/NeuroDiverse which can be found at http://blog.neatandsimple.com/2011/01/adult-add-gifted-or-neurodiverse.html
My thoughts below are very much the attitude I grew up with, and are aspects of myself that I still mentally argue. At this point, I’m more deeply embracing the core qualities of Gifted (Intensity, Complexity, Drive) and don’t hesitate to privately use the label gifted for myself. (In public may be another matter I’m still working on.)
Why I’m not “Gifted”
I never considered myself gifted…I mean, really…I’m not a math, physics, or computer science major. I majored in business but excelled at liberal arts. But, I wasn’t a stellar sculptor, a solo-musician, or a language virtuoso. I was a mediocre dancer. But gifted, or even genius. No way.
Yeah, I was a smart kid. Yeah, I was in the honors program in college, but I still wasn’t anything special. I was “normal.” I just happened to be good in school. It was easy, but that didn’t really make me special. Ok, so I had a knack for getting it and explaining it to someone else (except for math, and German).
I had too many interests to be “gifted”. I never stuck with anything long enough to get “good”. My friends and I all talked about how you needed close to 1000+ or 10,000+ hours to master something. I rarely found something interesting for more than a week. Forget 10,000 hours. My friends were the state level athletes and if you weren’t at their level, you weren’t good. They never felt they were good enough either. If they weren’t proud of their accomplishments (and almost at the top…) what good is it to be proud of mine? I look like a schmuck if I say I feel good about a time that’s 5 seconds slower than theirs in a 50 yard free. IF the good aren’t good, or won’t say it because they’ll be accused of being conceited. The less than good aren’t good either, right?
I wasn’t a pretty girl. At best I was “cute.” Not ugly, but nothing that drew the boys attention. I was persistent, but persistence isn’t a sign of being gifted. It’s just a core value that everyone has, right? Right? I mean, I’m nothing special.
I couldn’t count in piano, I couldn’t remember the music lines on the notes and make my fingers hit the right keys. I wasn’t a super nerd. I didn’t play dungeons & dragons.
The things I was praised for, getting along, being a peace-keeper, being sweet. (all skills of adaptability) weren’t anything special. I was in leadership roles, but those were just expected. Anyone can do that, you just have to expect and teach t hem how. I mean, really it’s nothing special. The others just haven’t learned how to be that fast yet to have the extra time in their schedule to want or find these classes interesting.
What if you counter all of this with this article from Patty K. A small excerpt is here:
Yes. You *are* an expert.
by Patty K on February 7, 2011
And he asked me: “Are you a social media expert?”
I panicked and mentally back pedaled.
Uh oh! I stepped out of bounds and was talking about something I have no right to talk about. I was worried the police of Social Media Expertise might suddenly jump out of the woodwork with a pop quiz about <insert social media stuff I know nothing about here>
I quickly deferred: “No. No I’m not.” (Then I breathed a sigh of relief as the Credentialing Police retreated.)
But hang on a second…
What exactly is an expert? And who defines it?
Dictionary.com defines an expert as: “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field.”
When I hear the word “expert” – I immediately think of the people who know more than I do. In this case, people like Chris Brogan and Scott Stratten.
And the person I was talking to would not have heard of either of these two people.
I’m not sure he even knew exactly what “social media” was. He’s not on Twitter. He’s not on Facebook. He doesn’t blog. (He later asked me: “What’s a teleclass?”)
From his perspective, I was a social media expert.
There are degrees of expertise. Levels.
I picture it as a ladder. The ladder represents All There is to Know about a Given Subject. (In many cases, there is no “top” – it expands infinitely into the sky.)
Once we decide to learn about something, we start climbing the ladder. We look up and ahead to people who know more than us; our teachers and mentors. We look sideways towards our peers.
If we’re keen on the subject, we’ll climb past our first teachers and seek out new guides higher up the ladder.
And when we’re at the very bottom of the ladder? All we see are the people ahead of us. We may even mistakenly think that those people are at the top.
As a woman I spoke with recently said: “To a 3rd grader, a 4th grader is a God.”…….