Today, Elodie Bossoutrot shares her vision of giftedness through the Gifted Interview. Thank you, Elodie! She does development, counselling and support for families (especially those who are gifted), both for parents and for children and teenagers. She currently lives in France, in the Lot et Garonne.
.IF I COULD CHOOSE, WOULD I STILL BE GIFTED?
I think that I would not know how to do anything differently. Insofar as giftedness is not acquired but innate, I have always built myself with my atypical functioning in a respectful, caring and loving family cocoon. A family where difference has always been accepted and not stifled, which helps to develop self-esteem and self-confidence. And then I am whole, true, I assume myself, I don’t really know how to pretend. It’s hard to project yourself into another mode of functioning.
.WHAT (MY OWN) GIFTEDNESS MEANS TO ME
In my opinion, being gifted is just another way of functioning. Neither better nor worse, just different, with its facilities and difficulties, like anyone else in the end, gifted or not.
My Giftedness does not define me as a whole, I do not consider it as an excuse. On the other hand, it brings me a different sensitivity to the world, deeper awareness, and understanding of life and of human beings, the certainty that everything is possible if I decide that it is worth it. Yes, I have intellectual facilities, yes I go faster, yes for me many things are simpler, BUT I am like everyone else, a human being above all.
.IF I HAD TO CHOOSE AN IMAGE OR A KEYWORD THAT SUMS UP WHAT GIFTEDNESS MEANS
Just one…? That’s a tough one! I would choose one word: potential.
.HOW LONG HAVE I KNOWN ABOUT IT?
Four years ago, my son declared language difficulties. It was during a session with our speech therapist and through our exchanges that she asked me if I had already asked myself the question of Giftedness.
.WHAT PHASES HAVE I GONE THROUGH SINCE MY DISCOVERY?
I wouldn’t talk about phases, or particular changes. Just a word that came to rest on my difference. An explanation of how I see the world and live my life. Finally, enlightenment, a way of making sense, a logic, of some of my behaviour.
.HOW DO I EXPLAIN IT TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER HEARD OF IT?
As simply as possible. There is no right or wrong way to approach the subject. With simple words, respecting what the other person is ready to hear, or not: an unusual way of functioning. A particularity like being tall, short or clumsy.
I believe that the terms ‘gifted‘ or ‘high potential’ are still too negatively connoted, too often associated with pretentiousness, with a supreme intelligence that does not go down well, that makes people cringe and that places us in a kind of inaccessible stratum. No one wants to be ‘less than something’ than the other. And then there is the notion of difference, and even today, the difference is frightening.
In fact, few people dare to openly display their giftedness, for fear of being rejected from the outset, immediately labelled, falsely identified.
.THE REMARK WHICH BLEW ME AWAY MOST WHEN I TALKED ABOUT IT
Few people know that I’m Gifted (well, that was before I wrote a book on the subject where I talk a bit about myself, which makes the list slightly longer!), but the people I talk to about it or who ask me questions don’t have any particular reactions, at worst curiosity, which I think is rather healthy.
I think it all depends on how you approach the subject. When we take the time to choose our words according to our interlocutors (and we know how to do that), when we are in agreement with ourselves and with what this giftedness implies for us, we don’t take too many risks. I am Elodie first, before being Gifted.
.HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE (TO KNOW IT)
No big changes, but a better understanding of myself. It allowed me to understand why and how I was different, to find answers to some of my existential questions. And above all, to find an explanation for my anxiety.
.WHAT I HAVE ALLOWED MYSELF TO DO EVER SINCE
Today I release my emotions more easily, especially what makes me anxious. Before, I used to struggle alone, but now I talk about it and it’s much easier to manage.
I also made the choice to trust myself and believe in my abilities, I finally created my job, the one that suits me, and that allows me to wear all my professional hats at the same time, without having to choose. It’s real freedom.
.WHAT IT CREATES TO OTHERS WHEN I TALK ABOUT IT
Interest, understanding, and caring. I choose the people I talk to about it. People are usually interested in the subject in the first place and are therefore looking for answers or explanations. When the discussion comes from me, it is usually because I need to explain my perception of a situation, my emotions, or my feelings.
.WHAT IRRITATES ME WITH GIFTEDNESS
The myths without hesitation.
NO, we are not all little Einsteins. NO, we don’t have rocket science. NO, we don’t do everything right all the time. NO, we are not from another planet. NO, we don’t consider others as stupid because they are not Gifted. NO, we are not all full of ourselves.
On the other hand: YES, we can be friends, with pleasure, we have so much to offer each other. YES, we struggle like everyone else in our daily lives, we have much the same problems. YES, there are also idiots among gifted people. YES, we sometimes fail, make mistakes, don’t know, fail, doubt. YES, we live and feel things more intensely. YES, our brain goes faster. YES, we are “too much”, all the time. YES, we are also human.
.WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO EMPHASIZE ABOUT GIFTEDNESS
Our ability to understand, to adapt, to imagine new ideas, to undertake.
.WHAT I PERSONALLY FIND TO BE THE MOST DIFFICULT
Really, really? Managing my anxieties. I’m doing better today because I’ve surrounded myself with people who help me to untangle the knots in my brain, to calm me down, and listen to me.
I know today that this is the result of my brain thinking too much, too fast, all the time about too many things at the same time. From my latent inhibition deficit, from all my hyper characteristics (-empathy, -sensitivity, -esthesia).
Instead of fighting it, I learn to deal with it.
.WHAT I PERSONALLY LOVE
My sharpness of perception of the world and of others. It gives me the feeling of a more authentic, richer, more vibrant, more intense life and emotions.
.MY WELLBEING TOOL OR PRACTICE THAT HELPS ME MOST
My sessions with my psychologist when I’ve got too many knots in my head, meditation, gardening, artistic practices to unblock what’s stuck or express my happiness. In no particular order, sometimes all at once or selectively, depending on my needs. I’m going to try yoga in the autumn! The best of all is weeding when I’m angry! It has become a family practice!
.A MISREPRESENTATION THAT I WANT TO CALL INTO QUESTION
The fact that we are unapproachable! Nothing could be further from the truth! To me, this is the best proof of someone’s lack of knowledge on the subject. I also laugh at poo-poo jokes, I’m apt to eat chips and sausage instead of something healthy and good for my body. My son gave up his dummy at the age of 6, would like to do a “Ninja” BTS and still cries in the morning when I drop him off at school. If you want, we can talk about the color of your baby’s stool or Auntie Fernande’s ugly jumper. If you need to cry I’m here, we can also spend an hour criticizing your mother-in-law if that’s what you need. There’s always coffee available at the house, just drop in whenever you like.
Oh yes, and if it makes you feel better, I don’t know anything about quantum physics either, I never managed to learn English and I got 10/20 in my baccalaureate. The normal life of normal people.
.WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO GIFTED PEOPLE
Live in accordance with who you are deeply in all aspects of your life while respecting, of course, those around you. And be proud of your difference, it is beautiful, rich and powerful.
.WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT CONCERNED
Let’s be friends, you’ll see, I’m not so different from you. And if you want to understand, I can explain.
.WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE WHO IS WONDERING
Don’t stay alone with your questions. You will certainly end up scaring yourself. Read (the book I co-authored, for example), look for information, be accompanied by a coach or a psychologist specialised in this field, for example, and if this is not enough to reassure you or confirm what you feel, that you need to be certain, make an appointment to take the test.
.THE MISTAKE NOT TO MAKE FOR A GIFTED PERSON
Using your giftedness as an excuse, a pretext, a prop, a justification… For pity’s sake, this is a disservice to us and makes us look pretentious:
Him : You were a bit harsh yesterday with Sophie, you know she’s a bit fragile at the moment, I thought you were a bit bitchy…
She: yes, well that’s normal, it’s because I’m Gifted.
Or any other “no, but you can’t understand, you’re not Gifted.”, “forget it, Gifted humour”, “I can see that you’re lost in what I’ve just told you, it’s normal, your brain doesn’t go as fast as mine, I’m going to slow down to get down to your level” or “What?! Haven’t you suffered in your life? Are you sure you’re Gifted? “You must choose my application, simply because I am Gifted”.
Giftedness can explain a lot about how we function, but it doesn’t sum up or excuse behaviour that is harmful to others.
You want to be accepted as you are in all your uniqueness, that’s OK and normal, but remember not to denigrate others and to respect them in their uniqueness too. We all have something to contribute, whatever our test score, and we all deserve respect.
.MY PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FOR GIFTED
Find a job that will allow you to be totally you and in which you can blossom while sharing your skills. Whether you’re a self-starter or a little mouse who works in the shadows, there is a job for you, tailored to you. And if it doesn’t exist, create it!
If you work in a team, don’t forget that you don’t move at the same speed as the others, so give them time to come to their own conclusions before proposing yours.
.MY PERSONAL ADVICE FOR GIFTED
Here, for me, nothing is fixed, there are no rules. The only advice I will share is to find a person, Gifted or not, who will love you for what you are and not for what they would like you to be. Who will allow you to be you in all your uniqueness. If you find this person, you will have won everything.
For family life, my only advice is to take each member as he or she is and to respect his or her uniqueness. If we respect each other in our specific needs and ways of functioning, everything becomes easier.
.A BOOK TO READ ON THE SUBJECT
Mine of course! “Too much Everything, All the time… and if I were Gifted? Recognizing yourself to assume your High Potential and live well with it”. Co-written last year, it brings with humour, softness and pedagogy the subject of High Potential and our specific ways of functioning.
Without diagnostic, it allows everyone to recognize themselves through the reading of the different characteristics of people with High Potential, to find tools to assume it and live well with it. In fact, it allows us to reassure ourselves as to the legitimacy of asking ourselves if we are not concerned.
.MY OPINION ABOUT THE IQ WAIS TEST
I find it difficult to summarise Giftedness in a single number. Moreover, this result depends greatly on the conditions in which the test is taken.
On the other hand, having this figure, which would confirm or not a High Potential, would allow the setting up, if necessary, of relevant, effective and life-saving support processes for many people, especially for children.
I would tend to say that if a person has always lived well with his or her differences, that his or her life is fulfilling and meets his or her expectations, the test is not necessary.
If, on the other hand, the person has been suffering, wandering professionally and personally for years without being able to put his finger on what is preventing him from fully realising his potential, from feeling good about himself because he is too far out of step with others, the test seems necessary to me. It will shed light on what is and will allow us to envisage the future with new filters.
.IS IT A WASTE NOT TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE GIFTED?
I think that knowing allows us to answer a certain number of questions that we ask ourselves, to shed light on a painful or complicated past, to understand ourselves better and above all to feel legitimate in releasing our potential. So not knowing it…
.WHEN I MEET ANOTHER GIFTED PERSON, DO I RECOGNIZE HIM·HER? BY WHAT?
I have to admit that I’m pretty bad at it. After that, it is often said that we attract who we are.
My Giftedness does not condition my life or my relationships. I like to be around a lot of people without any other condition than affinity, and sometimes I come across people a bit like me.
.WHAT DO GIFTED PEOPLE HAVE IN COMMON?
Their specific functioning. But as there are as many different gifted people as there are different human beings on Earth…
.THE CRUCIAL STEPS NOT TO BE MISSED IN THE JOURNEY OF A GIFTED PERSON?
People often say: I’ve got my results, I’m good, I’m reassured. But what do I do with it now?
I would say that you first have to take the time to assimilate the information. Becoming aware that you are Gifted does not instantly make it easier to accept and live with it. It is not a small thing to finally understand the why and wherefore, to find the beginning of an explanation, or even the explanation to a complicated and/or painful past.
This awareness is not without effect on one’s life and reactions differ according to individuals and their situations at that moment. Having an experienced professional accompany you will be beneficial in admitting and integrating this new reality.
Then, well, you learn to deal with it, to modify your habits little by little for your well-being and to be more in tune with yourself.
Life does not change at once when the result is revealed. You have to take the time to integrate it, to believe in it and then decide what will evolve, when, how and why, through this new filter.
NB from Gloria: Dimitri shares his journey in his testimonial HERE.
.THE LAST THING I LEARNED ON THE SUBJECT (THAT I’D LIKE TO SHARE)
It’s not the last thing, but I think it’s very important to remember: being Gifted does not condemn us to be unhappy! One can be Gifted AND be well.
.A WISH FOR THE FUTURE
I would like the subject to be made sufficiently popular so that it is no longer “scary”, so that it can become accessible to as many people as possible and so that the people concerned can be identified more quickly. It would then be much easier to put in place support strategies in order to learn to live well with one’s differences as early as possible and thus facilitate the integration of Gifted people in all areas.
.THE QUESTION THAT I WAS MISSING BUT THAT I WOULD LIKE TO ANSWER?
What about the children?
Let’s keep one important thing in mind: there would be many more happy and fulfilled gifted adults if they had been detected from childhood. Knowing who you are, learning to deal with it and building a positive self-image, whatever our differences in functioning, are for me the keys to a rich and fulfilling future where everyone can explore and fully reveal their potential.