Originally Posted by NoHiddenFees
Me, sometimes I feel like a great waste of flesh, but am mostly over that now. Was bored to tears in public school and instead of channeling my energy into something useful (at least in retrospect), I seem to have managed to allow my own curiosity and creativity to be squelched in favour of fitting in, or at least making it through the system. I'm VERY good at school (graduated tops of the graduating class in my undergrad program), but am usually not proud of this. I did it by gaming the system, rather than by improving myself or taking risks. This is my biggest fear with respect to my children: I want them to be confident to face life head on and realize that one learns from mistakes. I chose to homeschool not only to ensure a rigorous education, but also to avoid the whole mindset that the final grade is the only thing that matters. I hope the girls grow up confident not only to do whatever they want, but to actually have something they do want. I lost my drive (at least for anything not to do with my children), and that just sucks.
I can really relate to this. I was pretty good at school. Enough to get me into Princeton (and graduate with honors) and then Berkeley for grad school. I am in the midst of a bit of a crisis about going back to finish my PhD having disavowed academia for five years now. It had finally dawned on me that I was okay doing coursework, but once I had to follow my passions and intellectual interests for research, I was lost. I couldn't fake it. I couldn't pull a few all-nighters to make up for a semester's crap work. I'm just not that smart. And then, of course, for me, there's the absolute terror of being confronted with real success, which accompanies real failure, risk-wise.
For me, growing up smart meant growing up dumb for me. I didn't know I was smart, and no one told me. So I just assumed everyone else faked it like me, except I wasn't faking it as well. It was surreal for me, starting preschool, learning this strange universe where people moved in slow-motion and we all agreed to participate in strange rituals, through consensus, apparently. I also had a lot of family troubles (though that's a whole 'nother discussion), and I suffered from kind of bad depression. So my memory really sucks. It's like the neurons were directionally-challenged to begin with (I think I was born VERY absent-minded), and with a few tweaks from depression, my neurons lost all ability to find their way. I somehow managed lots of work-arounds, and managed to succeed in school, but it was all a game.
So, now, I feel like a "great waste of flesh" too! What of all this potential? All these talents that all the teachers marvelled at, that my Mom was quite to discount. I fought my whole life to prove my Mom wrong, that I wasn't a pointless person. But here I am, un-accomplished. And trying to take joy in that. And realizing that maybe it's okay to try, and to fail, and to do things with no regard for my Mom and her opinions and legacy inside me.
I'm homeschooling too. I want to control my children's environments, especially early on, so that I can help them interpret praise and criticism. Both are detrimental because of the inherent evaluation and judgement. I envision something more meaningful, guiding them to solicit real, authentic connections with others. And guiding them to know to walk away when this isn't happening, even if it's rude.
In the end, all these parenting choices and socialization choices go back to what our view of life is. What is kindness? Is it more kind to tell someone the truth? To shield someone from the truth? To distract someone from the truth? To understand that the particular truth is not a meaningful truth? I mean, it's all case by case. What are our connections with our children? What is the purpose of having them in our lives? I know, for me, my children and myself being gifted is not a good or bad thing, a happy or sad thing. Rather, it's something to be recognized and its meaning attended to so that we may lead authentic lives according to our true selves.
I mean, it's great that my kids do all these "tricks." But they also suffer from confronting mortality and others' unkindness. And a bunch of other things I don't have to tell you 'cause I'm sure you all suffered the same or similarly. I mean, it's great that I'm so musical and have perfect pitch. But then there's the inability for me to sleep due to noises in the night. I mean, I'm already getting up to nurse and to change diapers, Lord, I swear I need more than 4 hours of sleep a day!!! And the feeling of never living up to my potential. I mean, don't I have some responsibility to DO something with my perfect-pitch-ness? Like all the other "talents" I have or "tricks" I can do? These are existential questions that come with giftedness. Not good, not bad, just is. (by the way, my answer is that we're not supposed to do according to our ability, but according to our desire)