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Gifted Interview #64 | Retrospective 2023-2024

The Gifted Interview asks gifted and talented adults about their relationship with (their) giftedness in order to demystify, inspire and blossom with this difference.

It is the fourth anniversary of the Gifted interview (created in February 2020): four years of men and women sharing their vision and life stories of being neurodivergent!

I invite you to (re)discover them all in this 2023-2024 retrospective interview. Thanks to Marion, Christophe Colas, Amy Clark, Samuel Young, Virginie Recoura, Lionel Lesguer, MaryGrace Stewart, Jérôme Delaville, Elodie Crépel, Jean-Philippe Lecreux, Karina Degrez, Michael Postma, Tamara Laszlo, Thomas Fayon, Camille Cocaud, Matthieu Play, Isabelle Pangault, Gaétan Lecire, Nicole Tetreault, John Thompson, Emma-Claire Fierce, who have made this richness of information and experience possible! Click on the name in bold highlighted to explore the complete interview.

PS: if you’re new to the Gifted interview, you can also have a look at the retrospective of the first year HERE and of the second year HERE, choose the interviews that interest you!

.IF I COULD CHOOSE, WOULD I STILL BE GIFTED?

Giftedness is a great gift. It allows you to understand quickly, to be curious, read books with “bulimia”, in all fields, and learn knowledge on your own. Giftedness allows you to multitask and to love complexity.

I also have developed senses, so I enjoy all the sounds of the forest during my walks.

Nevertheless, if I had to choose, I would have preferred to have my “instructions manual” from a young age. I would not have made certain mistakes. The “chameleon” option, for example, I would not have ticked. – LIONEL LESGUER

.WHAT BEING GIFTED MEANS TO ME

To have a different view of the world, to make connections where there seem to be none, to find solutions where they are not expected, to have values with which one does not compromise, and to experience everything tenfold. – MARION

.IF I HAD TO CHOOSE AN IMAGE OR A KEYWORD THAT SUMS UP WHAT GIFTEDNESS MEANS

Rather than reducing it to one characteristic, I would say that each of the characteristics of giftedness has, in its positive aspects, a utility.
I see giftedness as a piece of equipment:

  • A weaving machine, to assemble all the subtle data and details perceived in one’s environment, and connect them to what has already been experienced.
  • A radar or an antenna, which enables one to pick up weak signals (what others would not notice), to envisage what could happen (risks, threats, ruptures, trends, fundamental issues)
  • A scanner, which allows us to see through what is visible and to perceive the finest nuances
  • A fine-tooth comb, to untie knots and solve problems – KARINA DEGREZ

.HOW LONG HAVE I KNOWN ABOUT IT? 

Instinctively, from an early age as I struggled to ‘fit in’ but from a metacognitive perspective…probably in my early 30’s. – MICHAEL POSTMA

NB from Gloria: You can dig deeper with Michaels’ definition of metacognition for gifted people in my glossary HERE (Letter M).

.WHAT PHASES HAVE I GONE THROUGH SINCE MY DISCOVERY?

First there was a phase of denial, I was not sure of the truth of the test. Yet I had been warned…

Then followed a phase of discovery of Giftedness and of my own personality.

Then came a phase of acceptance, then a phase of detachment. It is as much a part of who I am as my height or other characteristics. I have also taken a step back from it. Giftedness is an opportunity and it is essential for me to know this. – VIRGINIE RECOURA

.HOW DO I EXPLAIN IT TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER HEARD OF IT?

“Gifted” is the worst word choice ever! It is not a present that you unwrap and treasure always. It is not a one-size-fits-all that you can understand simply from the word. It is instead a unique wiring of the brain that must be nurtured, supported, and explored for each individual. It impacts social relationships, cognitive function, and physical sensitivities. It persists throughout the lifespan, with strengths and challenges emerging along the way.  – AMY CLARK

.THE REMARK WHICH BLEW ME AWAY MOST WHEN I TALKED ABOUT IT

I wish to share the remark of a school director when I told him about the giftedness of my eldest daughter who learned to read on her own, by inventing her own method: “Giftedness does not exist. It is the parents who push their children to achieve this result.” This kind of remark is not only unacceptable in the light of current knowledge, but it can hurt a lot, especially when the parents or the children receiving it are in a suffering situation. – JEAN-PHILIPPE LECREUX

.HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE (TO KNOW IT) 

I accept myself more. I have realised that instead of fighting all my life against who I am, to finally be “normal”, integrated and accepted, I can instead make myself happy! And rather find out how to function with this sensitivity to everything (information, sensations, emotions, energies): priorities (I tell my daughter: “the body, first!” because the quality of our physical sensations will influence the quality of our thoughts, their depth), physical and emotional well-being, peaceful limits, etc. – TAMARA LASZLO

.WHAT I HAVE ALLOWED MYSELF TO DO EVER SINCE

To surround myself only with people who make me feel good: people who are inspiring, caring and funny (but without complacency). – ISABELLE PANGAULT

.WHAT IT CREATES TO OTHERS WHEN I TALK ABOUT IT

Responses vary considerably. Some people resist or dispute the concept, while others don’t care. However, some are open to the idea of exploring the subject. – JOHN THOMPSON

.WHAT IRRITATES ME WITH GIFTEDNESS 

I will be honest, I sometimes have a hard time with the gifted community. Let’s just say, we have been at odds… While I certainly understand that many gifted parents have had to fight long and hard to empower their children– which is tragic and indicative of a systemic failure. It does seem, at times, that people don’t know how to stop fighting and then turn on one another. If our goal is to empower our children and help them self-actualize, we must equip them with a voice and agency. Unfortunately, all too often I see the gifted community devolve into shouting matches in which people get cancelled quickly. If this is how we choose to spend our raw power, I fear the path forward may be rockier than it has to be. I’m not saying that we need to be entirely unified, but we should be a safe, accepting, and organized community. – SAMUEL YOUNG

.WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO EMPHASIZE ABOUT GIFTEDNESS 

The joy of finally finding yourself. The pleasure of discovering ways to finally understand yourself and stop feeling guilty. The joy of finally feeling less alone because, in reality, there are other (discreet) people around us who share our affections! The pleasure of making room to get closer to people who share our values.
This strength of reactivity, this greedy spirit of experiencing ourselves and others, this curiosity that helps us to want to continue along the path of life. This astonishing creativity that sometimes emerges when you least expect it, this capacity to be passionate about subjects that are “not our own” and to be able to compete once worked on, with the help of our common sense and distanced gaze.
This desire to support others, if we still love them. Those shots of adrenalin and endorphin when everything’s “up”. – GAËTAN LECIRE

 .WHAT I PERSONALLY FIND TO BE THE MOST DIFFICULT  

 The fact that my own mother doesn’t believe it. – CHRISTOPHE COLAS

.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. – CAMILLE COCAUD

.MY WELLBEING TOOL OR PRACTICE THAT HELPS ME MOST

The right balance of everything. A balance between sport, intellectual nourishment, the need to connect with others, but also being able to have moments when I am alone. – VIRGINIE RECOURA

 .A MISREPRESENTATION THAT I WANT TO CALL INTO QUESTION

Ah, there are so many stereotypes to break!

First of all, we come back to the very first question asked and the representation – misleading in my opinion – that a Gifted is a person who has a well-acquired gift! No, a Gifted person is not a genius, at least not without a minimum of work. Nor is a Gifted person an autistic person, and the reverse is not necessarily true either. No, not all Gifted are highly sensitive, they each have their own sensitivities, even if this can be exacerbated at times. And three times No, Gifted people are not unwell! – JERÔME DELAVILLE

.WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO GIFTED PEOPLE  

Accept yourselves. It’s better to spend a lifetime loving yourself as you are, rather than trying to be someone others will perhaps accept one day.  – EMMA-CLAIRE FIERCE

.WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT CONCERNED 

You need these people. You need them to be educated in ways that will develop their talents for the sake of your health, the planet, and the government. – MARYGRACE STEWART

.WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE WHO IS WONDERING 

  • If they are wondering whether they pass the test:
    “Be gentle with yourself. It’s normal to have doubts. It’s normal to have something at stake. It’s okay to want to be after the test before you’ve started. It’s just a strange time to pass.”
  • And if you prefer, you can meet professionals specialised in supporting gifted people without taking the test. You don’t have to be a certified black belt in judo to be legitimately passionate about this subject and learn things about yourself through this keen interest – MATTHIEU PLAY

.THE MISTAKE NOT TO MAKE FOR A GIFTED PERSON

Do not let others define you. That metacognitive journey of self-discovery is yours alone to take. Do not let others get in the way. – MICHAEL POSTMA

.MY PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FOR GIFTED

Create your own business, set your own rules, your own goals!

It was very difficult for me to work for several years within a large structure (Cap Gemini). Having to constantly report to people who should not be managing the entity I was in was making me hysterical… I left this group by explaining to my superior that I could not face her idiocy anymore ^^

So in 2012 I decided to leave and set up a startup (Shift Technology) with one of my very good friends, and since then I’ve never stopped being an entrepreneur… which allows me to grow, to define my own goals, to recruit people who are like me and to feed my curiosity. – THOMAS FAYON

.MY PERSONAL ADVICE FOR GIFTED

Stay yourself, love yourself as you are because this love will give you the strength to overcome the trials and will illuminate your daily life with beauty. – JEAN-PHILIPPE LECREUX

 .A BOOK TO READ ON THE SUBJECT

The Power of Neurodiversity by Dr. Thomas Armstrong – SAMUEL YOUNG

.MY OPINION ABOUT THE IQ WAIS TEST

It’s tricky. I talk about this in my book [Insight into a Bright Mind]. The tests help with identification for getting certain children where these test help identify their giftedness. For these specific children, it can help them get into programs that match their engagement. There is a problem with these tests in general because they do not capture all students, especially children that are twice-exceptional, being gifted and having a learning difference. If the tester is not aware of the complexity, the giftedness can be missed. In addition, these tests provide a snapshot, a moment, on a particular day and time when the test was taken, so it does not capture creativity, innovation and different types of intelligence. The test is good at capturing a specific type of intelligence specially, executive functioning. So, a highly creative and asynchronous kid can be missed. At the end of the day, the score is not the most important thing. It’s how you harness your intelligence through your creativity, motivation and passion. We really need to encourage kids to go for the things that they love.- NICOLE TETREAULT

 .IS IT A WASTE NOT TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE GIFTED? 

I wouldn’t describe it as a waste, but to not fully comprehend your identity as a person could be seen as a missed opportunity. – JOHN THOMPSON

.WHEN I MEET ANOTHER GIFTED PERSON, DO I RECOGNIZE HIM.HER? BY WHAT? 

Chemistry.

Their reasoning/thinking mechanisms.

It’s difficult to express… I think that chemistry must be partly responsible for this detection: like some animals that manage to communicate inaudibly ^^
After a few minutes of interaction, it is quite simple, through the speed of understanding (of complex subject(s) or not) and mutual curiosity, to detect another gifted person… – THOMAS FAYON

.WHAT DO GIFTED PEOPLE HAVE IN COMMON?

What seems to me to be common in giftedness is access to COMPLEXITY and INTENSE functioning.
But then, as I said, there are many factors to take into account in the pathway, but also personality variants (level of high sensitivity, introvert/extravert, sensation-seeking or not), and finally other exceptionalities (DYS disorders, ASD, ADHD). – KARINA DEGREZ

.THE CRUCIAL STEPS NOT TO BE MISSED IN THE JOURNEY OF A GIFTED PERSON?

It is essential to understand that giftedness is only one piece of the puzzle of who we are, so yes it has an impact (when a piece is missing in the middle of a puzzle it is visible) but it is not everything. – ELODIE CREPEL

.THE LAST THING I LEARNED ON THE SUBJECT (THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE) 

That the myelin in neurons is thicker in Gifted brains. – CHRISTOPHE COLAS

NB from Gloria: there is a neurobiological reality behind thinking faster. The thicker myelin is part of it (white matter) as well as the density of neurons and their (different) more efficient and faster organisation (grey matter).

.AN INSPIRATION FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY ON GIFTEDNESS

This multidisciplinarity, the fact that giftedness is not confined to psychology. Today, in French-speaking countries, it is psychologists who have the upper hand on the subject, but why? It is not a mental health issue per se, it can be essential for therapeutic follow-up, but coaches, nutritionists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, teachers, etc. are also concerned by potential training on this subject. Because they too, in their profession, have to accompany or help gifted people. It is time, for the well-being of the gifted, that we open up knowledge to all professions. – ELODIE CREPEL

.A WISH FOR THE FUTURE 

Often, we misunderstand bright people because they think, communicate and act differently than the norm. I wanted to demystify many of the misconceptions about the brain and create a more inclusive awareness of the complexities of the mind and bring forward the richness in the diversity, highlighting the positive aspects of thinking and being different. I wanted to bring neurodiversity into a bright light. So many people are fed the message they don’t fit in, or they are not worthy, and I wanted to bring forward ways to feed the minds of diverse people with affirming brain messages. The brain is nurtured by the kind of thoughts we feed ourselves with. We can feed our minds with junk food or with highly nutrient-rich food. I wanted to feed people messages of the positive aspects of neurodiversity the good food of positive thoughts, like blueberries rich with antioxidants and nutrients to support optimal health. – NICOLE TETREAULT

.A HUNCH ON THE SUBJECT

Democracy is a wonderful way to govern but it may not be the best way to educate people. We are not all the same. We need more flexibility, individualization, and grouping by readiness in each subject. We need a ceilingless education for all. – MARYGRACE STEWART

.THE MISSING QUESTION, WHICH I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO ANSWER ON THE SUBJECT?

  • What one piece of advice would you offer a gifted individual on the gifted parenting journey?

Without judgment, honor your child’s deep interest, strength, or talent and allow them to engage deeply… for that sense of peace they find when exceptionally engaged is the same as what you feel when you finally find your place in the gifted world. By allowing them to experience this early, they will spend more time on the positive journey of giftedness. – AMY CLARK

  • To what extent do you feel your giftedness affects your learning differences (twice-exceptionality) and vice versa?

Like so many people, I’m guilty about feeling guilty about my learning differences. The medical model has conditioned many of us to –myself included – to spend a great deal of time thinking about what’s “wrong” with us and focus on what we don’t do well. It’s taken me a lifetime to undo that constant focus on “deficits” and work to pull my strengths out from under the shadows. I’m still a work in progress. I am realizing that my strength areas have developed because of my struggles, not in spite of them. For me, there is a clear relationship between the two. Understanding that allows me to appreciate these halves of my whole. They cannot be separated. They are intertwined like the sun and moon and both serve important roles in my life. It’s not always easy to say, but I’m thankful for both. I’m not saying it’s easy. Yesterday, for example, I sat for 4 hours trying to get work done and couldn’t. Then I spent hours beating myself up for not working. The difference is that my personal work helps me to look back and realize that I was trying to do tasks that weren’t aligned with my strengths or feeling that day and that next time, instead of fighting it, I should lean into my feelings. That’s growth.  – SAMUEL YOUNG

  • How can I get the best out of my giftedness? 

By respecting and fully fulfilling their needs, however specific they may be, for healthy long-term development. – EMMA-CLAIRE FIERCE

***VERY SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY: You can receive a Free Recorded Coaching Session for my new project : THE INNER SPACE PODCAST, click HERE to benefit from it.***

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3 keys to deepen your reflection on your professional achievement adapted to the needs of neurodivergent profiles (highly sensitive, multipotentialite, gifted).

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