Reprinted from my blog on the My Gifted Life social network.
It’s snowing here in the Midwest. I’ve got dishes half washed in the sink. My daughters are home from school, unwinding from a busy week with a little bit of TV.
I receive updates from Douglas Eby’s Talent Development Resources blog and High Ability websites. If you haven’t checked him out, you should. There’s always something amazing to learn about the joys, the challenges and the ‘emotional costs of high ability‘.
My mind is burdened with the latest cycle of what Belinda Housenbold Seiger, PhD, LCSW. calls “the rage to achieve”. Even with four blogs in addition to this one (one on raising gifted daughters and selective mutism, one on general education and activity ideas for young kids, one science education blog, and one for my photography, informal philosophical essays and personal stories, I am feeling an overwhelming desire to achieve more in my life.
In my previous life (that is, my dual-income, no kids life), I was moderately successful in the scientific field. I worked in microbiology, forensics, and medical genetics. I switched jobs for new challenges every few years. In twelve years, I worked my way up from a lowly part-time lab technician making little over minimum wage to a forensic expert in DNA analysis to the laboratory supervisor of a small genetics laboratory in a private university. I am extremely proud of my worldly achievements, which was probably a bad thing because when I left the STEM field, I went through an identity crisis and what’s more, my rage to achieve hasn’t waned and I look at my past achievements with wonder and a tinge of melancholy. I just feel only that much more tension, especially after too much coffee. I’m feeling the effects of that today, and so, to manage this, I feel compelled to write about it.
I try to manage my intensity and ‘rage to achieve’ by writing long, complex, essays just to feel productive. I have some pretty cool ones – like Research on Attachment Theory and Anxiety Disorders, or one of my piece on Dyscalculia, or my favorite one on writing called The Compulsion to Write. I must say, one of my most thrilling days was when one of my blog posts got quoted on Douglas Eby’s article, What Do You Do with Your Intensity? I still get a little boost in my self-concept every time someone links to my blog Raising Smart Girls because of that piece or I hear some positive feedback from the people I write about (like Dr. Emma J. King). These little things mean so much for this gifted and intense stay at home mother. I’m all dressed up with no place to go, but sometimes I feel so good for having met someone new via my blogs.
But today, even writing isn’t taking the edge of my internal tension. I feel like a caged lionness. My energy levels are through the roof, even though not too long ago I spent about 45 minutes shoveling snow. Even though it gave me a backache, it didn’t take the edge off my caged-in feeling. Thank goodness I don’t get in this agitated state much, otherwise I think I’d be in real trouble.
I’d have to consider more than just the glass of white zinfindel that’s sitting next to my keyboard. Like Dr. Sieger’s Weed Girl, I might just need something stronger to take that edge off, to numb the rage to achieve.
Interestingly enough, she also wrote a beautiful piece called The Special Challenges of Highly Intelligent and Talented Women Who Are Moms. You can read that article here. Though I must say, while I am motivated by the love of learning, I am also motivated by a desire for financial reward because my husband’s been laid off for so long. But I do profoundly understand the special challenges part.
Many of these women face periods of frustration when the demands of family and their need for intellectual immersion collides.
Yeah, most definitely that. Frustration, sadness, despair, and working through it but not before you feel like you are going crazy. I hate that part.
I wish I could apply all this excess energy to housekeeping. I just can’t. When I get like this, housekeeping is the last thing I want to do.
This is my year to figure out where to go from here. I’m not content to just do what I’m doing, writing essays and dreaming of finding new sources of income and a smidge of recognition. And if you’ve ever been an unrecognized or worse, yet, neglected or abused gifted young child, you know that validation helps. For a little while anyway.
I’m on a mission to continue to explore my talents while guiding my gifted young daughters. No easy task. There’s housekeeping and relationship maintenance with my husband to work on. I wish I could afford some household help. How did Marie Curie do it? She didn’t let motherhood and family interfere with her scientific ambition. She had help. I don’t. This makes the task more challenging. Not impossible, just challenging.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a little bit of history, my perspective, and publicly say thanks a wonderful bunch to Douglas Eby and Dr. Sieger for their contributions to helping my intense and sometimes frustrating life make a little bit more sense.