Why gifted kids fail later in life.
The burden of expectations on gifted kids and what to do about it.
Growing up as a gifted kid is not necessarily an advantage. It comes with its own set of challenges and obstacles to overcome. In some ways, it can actually be a burden and set you up to fail later in life.
Growing up gifted as a kid generally meant that school was easy and you did not have to try as hard as the other kids to get good grades. Everyone around you told you that you were smart, have a ton of potential and you are going to grow up to be something special in the future.
School for gifted children is really easy. They rely on their raw intellect to pass. This is especially true for younger students aged 6-14 years old, as the amount of homework a school gives is proportionate to the age of the kids. This is the case for them until they reach high school. It is then that their raw brainpower is no longer sufficient to handle schoolwork, and they run into a wall.
In gaming terms, "normal" children advance and level up their XP normally by putting in the work, but gifted children never have to grind that XP until grade 7 or 8.
Gifted kids did not apply themselves afterward, because it got into their heads that they did not need to. All this praise got to them and lead them to believe that they can get by without really trying.
As things got harder, they never learned how to cope with them, because they did not learn how to put in the effort in the first place. They were so used to things being easy.
Their expectations of themselves were so high that they expected to pass anything with flying colors and without any effort. As things got harder, they needed to put in more effort, so the effort needed to scale proportionally with where they were.
Societally, we assume that gifted kids have it easier, but to actually live up to that high potential placed upon them, they have to put in more work than the normal kid. Not living up to that potential, all while there are people telling them that things should be easier for them, makes them feel like they are failing.
Gifted kids do not increase their effort according to their expectations. They tend to put in the same amount of effort as their peers while working on goals that require a lot more work. When they see that their peers have achieved their goals, while they have put in an equal amount of effort, and they are still not close to reaching their expectations, they begin to feel inferior.
All these things compound to make the gifted kids feel shame and low self-esteem. They feel as if they have fallen short of their expectations when they should be doing better for themselves. The shame of a failed gifted kid lives between their potential and their performance.
They develop some sort of ego, where they do not settle for less and are not satisfied with being average. They end up drifting, burnt out, and not knowing what to do with their lives.
What to do about it?
1. Stop comparing
This is essentially the core tenet for dealing with this. Parents and teachers have to stop comparing gifted kids with other kids and telling them that they are better. All this comparison creates artificial expectations based on someone else's life and plants the idea in their head that they can rely on their intelligence to go through life without the proper habitual work ethic.
As a gifted kid, you have to recognize that the path you are taking in life is an arduous one. Don't expect to see the results of your work for a long time, depending on your goal or expectation. Be patient. Great things take time.
3. deal with the shame
You can deal with the shame and low self-esteem in two ways:
1. Live up to the potential
This is easier said than done of course. This will most likely take everything out of you, and it will take a long time to achieve. This will require discipline, patience, and perseverance.
2. Lower your expectations
Let go of your expectations and accept yourself as you are in the present. You can lower expectations by accepting that everything that you have ever achieved is exactly what you are capable of, and not the artificial expectations that everyone around you set for you.
About the author
Half Russian. Half Palestinian. Fully trying my best to make my way through life. I'm an English major graduate. I write about intersting stuff.
"Sometimes, it is the people no one imagines anything of, who do the things no can imagine"