If you’re born gifted, life is handed to you on a silver platter, right?
Not according to several Reddit users who answered the question, “[For those] labelled as gifted children, do you think the label harmed you, or helped you?”
Most said that the “free passes” and special treatment given in school and beyond are not worth the price of having above-average IQ. In fact, any complacency they enjoyed during their early years ended up hurting them later in life.
“I often feel like a huge failure and I can’t look at my transcript without crying,” writes one user. “I still consider myself extremely intelligent and capable but I can’t push myself to do the work required to make straight As. Overall it’s forced me to set an unreasonably high standard for myself.”
We’ve pulled together some of the most interesting comments from the thread about why it’s horrible to grow up gifted.
'You're suddenly looking around at the world and realising that you're supposed to have some crazy work ethic at everything because YOU'RE gifted and THEY aren't. More is expected of YOU than THEM because of the big giant brain that YOU were given that THEY weren't. See a pattern there? There's this exclusivity complex there where it's an 'Us vs. Them' mentality.'
'School has always been the biggest trigger for my anxiety because I'm afraid of not doing well enough, and I never cut myself any slack. I also have other mental illness issues, and my preoccupation with marks expanded into believing my parents won't love me if I don't get the grades I think I should. The pressure comes entirely from within. They have always said as long as I try they will be proud, but I stress myself out anyway.'
'Even my best friends in school were also my fiercest competitors. You had to put school completely aside if you wanted to hang out, because you'd end up hating each other otherwise.'
We've pulled together some of the most interesting comments from the thread about why it's horrible to grow up gifted.
'I've had a genius-level IQ my whole life, and it's caused my parents (mother in particular) to believe that I should be able to go whole semesters without ever getting a single exam question wrong. Every time I try to explain that that isn't how intelligence works, I get told 'that's just an excuse, you're smart.' Genius does not equal perfection.'
'I think the worst is the constant need for other people's approval, and basing my entire self-worth on what others think. It's led to tons of anxiety, because I can never fail at anything, or let other people down. It's led to a bunch of self-destructive behaviours, where I'll do things that I hate or that harm myself, just to please other people and gain their approval.'
'I was always an overachiever, despite being told I was extra smarties, until I got to high school and I suddenly started caring what everyone else thought. In elementary school I got perfect grades. In high school, I stopped trying so damn hard, because everyone hated the kid with the perfect grades. I remember taking a bio test once, I think that was the swing point, where the closest grade to mine was a 78%, and I got a 96%, and everyone hated me.'
'Precocious + bullied, that was probably the formula that made people think I needed the label, really. Adults, rather than dealing with said bullies, just reassured me I was special and that they'd be 'bagging your groceries' etc. Ironically I only stopped waiting tables and working in supermarkets about two years ago.'
'I found the hardest part of the expectations was staying positive. Top of the line grades were expected. If you got the best grades, you were doing what you were supposed to do. If you got less than stellar grades, you obviously just weren't applying yourself. It's hard to be positive when the only reactions are neutral and negative.'
'The idea that I was smarter than everybody meant that I only trusted myself, listened to no one and would only except advice when it made sense to me. I mostly used my gifted brain to do as little work as possible and I developed bad habits. I believed that I did not need to do well in school ... because I could make up for it later.'
'It would of been nice if they had separated us somehow so school was actually challenging, but once everyone in my life was telling me that I was brilliant rather than just my parents, I never did any work or paid attention in classes. ... If I had some work ethic in school I think my life would have turned out loads differently. But as it was, because they knew I was so bright, I never had to do anything.'
'I excelled in grade school without having to put in any effort. I would show up to finals, asking which exam we were taking that day, and get top scores. I never learned how to do homework or maintain any sort of work ethic, but I became very skilled at coasting through courses and bullshitting on essay questions (writing what I speculated the teacher wanted to hear, and not something with actual substance). Once I hit university I couldn't get away with not doing any work anymore, so I hit a wall that I'm still trying to overcome.'
'I was always put in 'gifted' programs up until grade six. While I learned a lot in those sessions that I would not have had the privilege to otherwise learn, I feel now it lulled me into a false sense of security of my perceived capabilities, and began to coast in school. It eventually caught up to me, and I still kick myself over letting myself get complacent.'
'I often feel like a huge failure and I can't look at my transcript without crying. I still consider myself extremely intelligent and capable but I can't push myself to do the work required to make straight A's. Overall it's forced me to set an unreasonably high standard for myself. I have considered myself in a three-year slump (I'm a junior in high school now), but I'm starting to accept that I'm just a B student.'
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