Today, Camille Cocaud shares her vision of giftedness through the Gifted Interview. Thank you, Camille! She is a startup consultant, founder of “Meufs du Growth” (i.e Growth Chicks) + WeUkraine. She currently lives in Nantes, France.
.IF I COULD CHOOSE, WOULD I STILL BE GIFTED?
I’d like to say yes, but let’s be honest: there are days when neurodivergence is painful. Let’s say 98% of the time yes, 2% of the time I think being neurotypical sounds like a holiday.
.WHAT BEING GIFTED MEANS TO ME
I don’t like to talk about IQ, for me, it is just an effect of the particular set up of my brain. I prefer to describe it with an analogy: human brains are like IKEA chairs. Everyone gets the same layout, except for 2% of people. They get a different plan, which makes their chair perform better.
.IF I HAD TO CHOOSE AN IMAGE OR A KEYWORD THAT SUMS UP WHAT GIFTEDNESS MEANS
A chair that performs better than the average
.HOW LONG HAVE I KNOWN ABOUT IT?
.WHAT PHASES HAVE I GONE THROUGH SINCE MY DISCOVERY?
Absolutely all the phases of grief!
Anger – why did it take me 30 years to discover this? It’s because this is a sexist world that such a clearly gifted little girl has gone undetected!
Sadness – my God, all this time hurting each other, 30 years lost…
Denial – No, but that neuropsychologist was wrong, I really fooled her.
… and then acceptance – Ok. Well, now that we know, what do we do?
.HOW DO I EXPLAIN IT TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER HEARD OF IT?
I always use the analogy of the IKEA chair.
.THE REMARK WHICH BLEW ME AWAY MOST WHEN I TALKED ABOUT IT
“Yeah, well, we knew, Cam. Even if we didn’t call it ‘Giftedness’, we knew” – from absolutely everyone I knew.
.HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE (TO KNOW IT)
I stopped beating myself up for my peculiarities. Now that I know it’s part of the deal, I accept my “giftednesses expressions” with a smile. I have even turned them into a strength by choosing a new professional field where curiosity, quick learning, understanding of processes and non-hierarchy are advantages.
.WHAT I HAVE ALLOWED MYSELF TO DO EVER SINCE
As a neurodivergent woman I mask a very large proportion of my giftedness (and ADD, but that’s another topic!) and it takes a lot of mental and physical energy. I wouldn’t say I’ve stopped masking, but I’m allowing myself a little more space to let them show.
.WHAT IT CREATES TO OTHERS WHEN I TALK ABOUT IT
I only bring it up when the subject is suggested to me, and usually it’s other neurodivergents folks who have either listened to the many podcasts I’ve done to talk about it, or who are unconsciously broaching the subject without knowing they are. When I feel that the person is about to put their finger on their own neurodivergence and this subject tickles them, then I talk about my own experience, and it never fails. I have helped many people to understand their difference and even to be detected.
.WHAT IRRITATES ME WITH GIFTEDNESS
The term giftedness. It is hyper-reductive and elitist. I prefer the term “philocognitive” (theorised by Fanny Nusbaum, Dominique Sappey-Marinier, Olivier Revol in France) which simply describes the difference in cognition without focusing on IQ.
PS from Gloria: With “Philocognitive”, the authors refer to the fact that gifted people love to think and to think differently.
.WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO EMPHASIZE ABOUT GIFTEDNESS
The fact that it is just a different way of conducting cognitive processes. In a tree rather than a straight line. Yes, it’s apparently more efficient, but that’s not actually what’s important.
.WHAT I PERSONALLY FIND TO BE THE MOST DIFFICULT
What always gives me (and will give me) trouble is rather the emotional management. As a good gifted person I am also a highly sensitive person (and hyper-sensory), so I am always balancing learning to welcome my emotions rather than control them. Letting them tell me what they have to say, so I don’t let them overwhelm me.
.WHAT I PERSONALLY LOVE
Now that I “know” I think differently, I have also learned to take advantage of it. I trust myself more to produce quickly, to perform well, to be brilliant and proud of it all.
.MY WELLBEING TOOL OR PRACTICE THAT HELPS ME MOST
Meditation and yoga. I still find it hard to fit it into my daily life (no thank you to my ADD) but every time I do it, it feels so good.
.A MISREPRESENTATION THAT I WANT TO CALL INTO QUESTION
Giftedness = IQ.
.WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO GIFTED PEOPLE
You are not alone.
.WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE WHO IS WONDERING
Listen to podcasts, read articles, watch videos on the subject… and trust yourself. If the words of these testimonies resonate strongly with you, there is probably something there.
.THE MISTAKE NOT TO MAKE FOR A GIFTED PERSON
Believing that giftedness only means a higher IQ.
.MY PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FOR GIFTED
Take advantage of your giftedness to learn new skills quickly, break new ground, have brilliant insights into complex systems… trust yourself.
.MY PERSONAL ADVICE FOR GIFTED
Be patient with your neurotypical relatives. I realised that I was very impatient with others when they didn’t understand as quickly as I did, and it’s actually very violent. Now that I know, I am more patient.
.MY OPINION ABOUT THE IQ WAIS TEST
It is a detection tool, but it is not sufficient. One can have a higher IQ without being gifted, a behavioural analysis is necessary to complete the diagnosis.
.IS IT A WASTE NOT TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE GIFTED?
Absolutely not. If the person does not suffer from it, then so much the better.
.WHEN I MEET ANOTHER GIFTED PERSON, DO I RECOGNIZE HIM.HER? BY WHAT?
Always ^^ Recently I even realised that several celebrities I loved were gifted (of course). I tend to say it’s a mystical and mathematical mix: I think my brain recognises a similar cognitive functioning in the other person and the discussion is always a bit… “magical”.
.WHAT DO GIFTED PEOPLE HAVE IN COMMON?
The love of knowledge.
.THE CRUCIAL STEPS NOT TO BE MISSED IN THE JOURNEY OF A GIFTED PERSON?
.THE LAST THING I LEARNED ON THE SUBJECT (THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE)
That one neurodivergence can hide another. I am Gifted and have ADD (attention deficit disorder). It’s called “twice-exceptionality“.
.A WISH FOR THE FUTURE
That people who suffer from their neurodivergent functioning accept themselves better in their originality.
.THE MISSING QUESTION, WHICH I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO ANSWER ON THE SUBJECT?
What has the discovery of ADD changed in your understanding of yourself?
I discovered my giftedness at the age of 30, and it gave me a lot of peace and also the possibility to project myself into the future again. But a few years later, I started having “internal dissonances” again: something was not right, I kept coming up against self-destructive, self-sabotaging behaviours and I could not explain them by giftedness…
After 18 rather painful months, during which I worked with Gloria and consulted a psychologist specialising in cognitive behavioural disorders. And then I found my answer on my own: “unconsciously”, I had started to consult a lot of content on attention deficit disorder. Because I “found them funny”… but deep down I saw myself in them.
I came to my therapist one day with the idea “I think I have ADD… what should we do? She quickly scanned me using medical criteria and confirmed that there was a good chance I had 2 neurodivergences: Giftedness + ADD.
Again, I went through all the colours of grief, but with the “option” of panic attacks. My ADD has been much harder to accept because it is socially less rewarding, and it is also almost invisible in me (i.e. I mask it extremely well).
What it has changed for me is an even more radical acceptance of who I am, who I am, and who I can be. Gloria helped me to hear the violence of my internal self-talk, and knowing that I was ADD helped me to understand WHY I was so violent.
I have only ever found violence, shame and humiliation to “make me do something”. This is a technique that people with ADD use a lot: in the absence of available dopamine to do boring tasks, they use things like shame (“You’re a piece of shit if you don’t do X”) or humiliation (“Your mother would be ashamed of you because you can’t do X”). In general, ADDers manage to create dopamine when the issue is social. The problem is that these are very self-destructive behaviours in the long term. But there are other techniques, which avoid self-violence.
NB from Gloria : for other experiences of gifted adults with ADD/ADHD, read the interviews of Gwendoline Vessot, Anthony Gonnet Vandepoorte, Caroline Desquest.