Posted by: unlikelygrad | July 16, 2010

on being realistic

Thanks to my friends (yes, real friends, not online friends) at The Gifted Homeschooler’s Forum I have read a lot about giftedness. I’m especially grateful to GHF’s founder, who introduced me to the concept of 2e (twice-exceptional) children–those who are both gifted and have learning disabilities.

These concepts have been very helpful to me, because all four of my children are gifted, and at least one of the four is 2e. (I’ve also tutored many 2e children belonging to other people.) But I don’t just read about these issues because I need to understand how my children think and learn; I also have an innate need to understand myself. And I, too, am gifted (and possibly 2e, though I’ve never formally been diagnosed with ADD).

One link posted by GHF this morning led me to Gifted Universe, a collection of articles on gifted adults. It is always nice to know that, no matter how unusual or different you are, there is someone at least somewhat like you out there. And lo and behold, the woman who writes the articles at GU is like me: a gifted mom, 38 years old, of gifted children.

I was particularly impressed by her article on realism:

Being realistic is a relative thing. First, what is realistic for someone else may not be realistic for me and vice versa. I know that I am sometimes reminded to be realistic when I already KNOW that I AM being realistic…for me. But what is realistic for me is not the same as for the person reminding me. At the same time, I know that I also assume that what is realistic for me, as a gifted adult, energy wise, cognitively, is equally possible for those around me when often that is not the case.

Also, for me, I think it is realistic to strive for an ideal. I have a natural inclination towards seeing things as they should be, a constant desire to improve. This is sometimes misunderstood as dissatisfaction which it generally isn’t. And while I prefer to achieve an end goal, the drive is rooted in the act of improving rather than an end state of being improved. Just to make everyone around me totally crazy, I not only have a continual need to improve but for me it’s not an exercise but a moral imperative. My desire to move towards things as they ’should be’ is linked to my value system – for me, it is the ‘right thing’ to seek an ideal and wrong to turn a blind eye to things that I feel are wrong. When I am admonished, or admonish myself, to be realistic, I sometimes interpret this instruction to mean I should settle for less than I think should be. If I do that, I deny what I think is one of the best parts of me. Somehow, I think my inclination to see things in a way that is seen as unrealistic is tied to entelechy (that new word for me): the drive to be the fullest version of who I am.

[I think the article gets even better–you can read it in its entirety here]

I appreciate this because I’m frequently told that my goals are unrealistic. Maybe they are unachievable; but then, I can’t know that until I try to attain them, can I? In the mean time, I have to keep trying to get better and better. One more thing Elisa says is that

I have always done better with people who believe in me and push me than those who remind me to be their version of realistic.

And boy is this ever true for me. I’ve already talked about my mom’s high expectations. One of the things I loved about SL was that he did just that. Dr. Hand-Waver doesn’t have quite as high expectations for me, but she recognizes my zeal to achieve and has suggested a couple of goals that most faculty in my department would have dismissed as “unrealistic.”

Today, I am grateful for people in my life who expect a lot from me, who cheer me on as I accomplish lofty goals, and who give me a boost when I fall a little short.

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