Managing the Rage to Achieve

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.

She writes,

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.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
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5 Responses to Managing the Rage to Achieve

  1. mysterycoach says:

    I love this post 😉 I saw you on Phil’s page and came over … Nice to meet you.

  2. Thanks, Mystery Coach.

    I appreciate that.

    I might have to peruse your blog a bit more. I see some good things there. I’m about ready to fire my therapist. Not because she’s doing anything wrong, but because it’s time to move forward from the past and work on the future.

    As for the present, I’ve been working right now on homemade inspirational cards for myself and art journaling pages. It’s something fun for me to help me relax and inspire me.

    • mysterycoach says:

      You are most welcome. 🙂 You know something? (If I may… ) I’ve realized that when we work on our future (hard as that feels sometimes) the past comes up anyway. LOL … it does, snipets and reminders and old things we’ve been through come up and out. Which I’ve always thought is interesting. What’s better, at least for me, is that as I learn I can uhm… know the things that help me through what comes up.

      Oh yah? inspirational cards? That sounds nice 🙂 I’m not very craftsy myself, elmers clue and ribbon and I seem to get tied up and stuck together BUT I love when other people can do it! I’m all like oooohhh… aaaaghhh… lol !

      Relax? You relax? (that’s light sarcasm because I rarely sit still) Well… ya know what? I run out of things to talk about over by me, well, either that or have too many from reading about others stuff? and then I can’t pick one… so I can start a topic too … tell me and I’ll start it. I’m open to discussions, I love it.

      You were in Forensics? Now THAT is cool! I bet that kept your mind entertained huh? Very nice!

  3. Well, yes, I suppose you are right, the past has a way of creeping in anyway. And, what’s more, I have a LOT more history that would like to intrude on my present, lol. I think that’s why I have been slowed down a lot by it. When I was younger, I had this amazing resilience. Now I seem to be, at times, consumed with so much reminiscing. I have oh so many stories to tell, which ought to go in a book sometime (and, in fact, I have 2 novels half started).

    I’m excited about the artistic side that wants to come out and play. I have been analytical for so long, that it’s a nice change of pace. And, the great thing about playing around with colors, textures, doodles and collage, that I find that it does slow down my unending thoughts as I concentrate (because I’m not as fluent with visual expression as I am with verbal expression). What does come up out of my subconscious is more in tune with what I need at that time in my life.

    Do I relax? Well, yes. I have a very overactive mind, and I have periods of high creativity/productivity, but then I crash and my body forces me to rest whether I want to or not. I’m just coming out of a few very low mood/low energy days (I consider these periods more than the just sadness, but less severe than clinical depression – I’m still functional, but it’s a bit like walking through molasses). I have other periods of crankiness, so it benefits others around me if I take time to relax and have fun.

    I find it very hard to relax at times, especially if I’m in a creative burst, or I get agitated by someone else’s um…stupidity…that causes problems for me or my kids, or my husband or my kids leaving messes around the house. I have three very intelligent and sensitive daughters that, at times, drain on my resources. I’m a highly sensitive person myself, so I end up being overwhelmed by their issues from time to time. For my family, as well as myself, it’s much, much better that I take time to nurture myself and find things that help me mellow out (without resorting to alcohol).

    I am learning some mindfulness meditation and I’m also incorporating a little bit more Buddhist teachings. I want to learn yoga…and believe it or not, belly dancing.

    All of my jobs kept my mind really entertained. I loved working in the laboratory. Forensics was especially stressful, because there were more cases than time to do them. But I also got the opportunity to give tours and lectures on Forensic DNA analysis, which I have always loved doing. I just gave a lecture to my oldest daughter’s fourth grade class last week.

    You can see a post about it here:

    And I love discussions too. Thanks for talking with me. 🙂

    • mysterycoach says:

      Yah, I mean we’re doing something or whatever, like when you were cleaning out, I think it was the basement and you had memories come up. Things like that or the neatest ones (or the ones we may not really want to revisit come up throughout the years if they’re triggered by a current event, or we read something. I think well… yah, I seemed to have more resilience when I was younger too. We didn’t have as much life experience back then and I know for myself it seemed it was quicker because I had less on my plate and it was easier to shift and let go of some things. Yet, they haven’t truly been forgotten. It seems that they’re waiting patiently to revive themselves the more I learn about myself. Which is very interesting to me. 🙂

      I have a book myself, it’s spread out over a network I used to run and here in blog world. LOL I really have to stop being a panzie (I’m not suggesting your a panzie LOL, Just me) and just DO IT … I have the outline and everything in my laptop. All it needs is all these years of content. A friend of mine offered years ago to edit anything I wrote. Maybe I need to seriously consider that.

      Nice (as to your artistic side) I like painting, (literally walls and rooms) and steam cleaning things and methodical things, they’re very soothing to me and I find I have more peace when I do that.

      Do you KNOW that I totally identify with your 3rd paragraph? AND know what else I realized over the years? That the moods I was in was greatly related to my cycle. Yup, s’totally true. I started paying attention when my daughter was younger because I had less patience and was more irritable more times during the month. Of course, there’s always other things that get to me, like life, people, job stress, money stress and the whole shebang of life, which does not help at times. Oye!!! Sure, I know how it feels walking through molasses. Absolutely we need fun time and me time and relaxation.

      I’m a highly sensitive person too! Did you know that? I mean these things are very distracting and overwhelm, at least to me, is not that uncommon to feel when all these things are going on. I understand completely how you feel. You’ve missed my ranting about work, I recently got layed off and it’s actually the best thing that’s happened to me. I’m feeling more and more better by the day. Sure, sure… we tend to take on everyone else’s issues and kind of, well I have anyway, forget us… it’s one reason I’m addicted to blogging. 🙂 This is my me time and I enjoy it quite a bit!

      It’s nice when our minds are entertained. Makes us feel… uhm… that we have purpose and are useful and the way things can come together. I love that. 🙂 Nice, nice tours and lectures? That’s terrific! Did they enjoy your lecture at her school?

      I’ll have to check out your article later on 🙂 I have to cook dinner. Oh, no problem, I’m not working I have ALL DAY to fart around. And I’m not minding this break one bit either. 🙂 My pleasure.

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