I was nervous and excited as I walked toward the Allegheny room for my first general session. I’d been waiting for years, I don’t even know why so many years, to attend this conference and finally I was here. SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) is an organization that represents all of the things I’ve become passionate about as a therapist, a gifted adult, and the mother of a gifted child. Yet, my anxiety was high; what if I still don’t fit in?
Ah… there it is. That is why I’ve spent so many years on the outside of the gifted community trying to peek through the colorful windows instead of walking through the open doors. Like so many of us, I’d spent all of my life feeling like an outsider in the world. I tried countless times to belong to a group of people, to fit in, but every time I was too different, too curious, too out-of-sync, and definitely too much of something I could never quite figure out. So here it was, my nervous attempt to enter into a group of people I kind of saw as my last hope for experiencing the feeling of belonging; should I be trying this? What if I lost that last hope instead?
It was a full room, a presentation by Stephanie Tolan who is one of the luminaries of the gifted world, and I was ready to be amazed. A few minutes after 10, one of the organizers came to inform us that the session would be rescheduled. My heart fell for a moment and then, from the back of the room, a petite blond woman stood up and offered to spend the time talking to us about Stephanie and her ideas. For me, this ended up being the perfect introduction into the world of real-life gifted community.
The scheduled talk was called “Whole Mind” and promised to be about more than just the intellect. What I didn’t know is that, this was about going down a road my mind has long whispered about but my “logical” self always pushed away. For the next hour Ellen Fiedler and several other friends of Stephanie talked about Stephanie’s work with the mysterious side of giftedness; children who seemed able to communicate telepathically, premonitions, exceptional empathic abilities and more. Things the scientist in me resists considering but also things that ring true for some of the strange “coincidences” I’ve observed. Things about giftedness I’d never before heard spoken of out loud.
I’d never felt free to consider this possible side of giftedness and being able to believe or not was beside the point of what made this profound for me. You see, being in this group of accomplished, professional, and brilliant people who were not afraid to consider these things seriously— that was what I needed to feel safe. I needed to know that it was safe to be the kind of person who is willing and excited to go down any and every path of thought and that is the gift I received.
In that hour I was freed. For the first time in my life, I knew it was ok to think about things that “nobody” else thinks about. I knew it was ok to talk to these people about things that in my regular life elicit blank stares and uncomfortable silences. I knew it was ok to actually be myself in all of my fullness, all of my weirdness, and all of the things that I grew up being told to hide.
It really was true. I finally found a place where I belong.
I got a lot out of the entire conference, and I highly recommend it to everyone who is gifted or has a gifted child (there is a very cool kids program during the conference as well).
So, I’m curious about you. Have you had this kind of experience of finally finding a place where you belong? Are you still waiting? Why?