Saturday, May 19, 2007

What happened to the hoops?

So I had a conversation with a friend today that caused me to look for some more information on Dabrowski's overexcitabilities. I came across this site on the "metagifted" in the process. The site seems a little bit "out there," and I can't really attest to its value because I didn't make it beyond the first article, where I was captured by these 2 sentences. They describe my present circumstances perfectly:
"My projects were always started the night before they were due, and finished sometime around noon the next day. Nobody really knew what to say, think, or do in response; I took an assignment, said "nah, this is boring" and did something totally different. And nobody knew, at the time, how to handle exceptions."
For much of my life, I've started my projects the night before they are due (I actually work on them for weeks, but don't get much "real" work done on them before the night before they are due). Contrary to what you might think, this is not because I'm lazy, but because I have SO many ideas for them that narrowing down to a single selection is difficult. I also have such grand visions of what the final products will look like that the projects sometimes feel overwhelming and are difficult to start.

Nonetheless, it was so validating to hear someone else say that they take assignments that are "boring" and do something totally different instead! I've spent the last 3 years in graduate school doing just that (much to the dismay of my professors). However, as I think back to my high school projects, I suddenly realize that I did the same thing in high school. I don't know that I consciously judged the assignments as being boring at that time. I think they were just springboards to opportunity for me.

I saw "other" possibilities in them that I don't think my teachers necessarily intended [such as the day we were supposed to deliver a commercial for an imaginary product in speech class and I invented a product that was completely abstract (as opposed to the latest household cleaner or something) and then performed a jingle I wrote myself based on a song I had learned as a child in church, or the day we were supposed to give a book report on a biography we had read, and I performed what I now know to be a dramatic interpretation where I took on the roles of multiple characters at once and used voices, positioning, and audience participation to make it all work.]

I just thought that the reason the assignments I turned in were different from everyone else's was because I was inherently "creative." I didn't realize at the time that actually, I was probably just bored. It would be a relief not to realize it now. However, in my present circumstances, I've been painfully aware of that fact for a long time, and that awareness has severely impeded the very creativity that has always sustained me.

Over the last 3 years, I have also become well-acquainted with the phenomenon of people who really don't know what to say, think, or do in response to such "products." Silence is generally the reaction. It can be pretty disconcerting and after awhile, you start to wonder if you are completely crazy--what it is that everyone else gets that you clearly don't?!

That isn't as bad, though, as the condescending tone most experts assume when explaining something to me because they presume that I couldn't possibly understand the answer to the question I have just asked about an engineering design, a mathematical theory, a scientific phenomenon, or a philosophical argument. They respond as adults often do to children who ask seemingly simple questions with highly complex answers. That isn't nearly as bad, though, as being nonverbally (and verbally) dismissed by people who will not engage in a conversation because I am female and/or because they assume that I couldn't possibly know anything (much less have anything of interest to say) regarding a "technical" topic.

It is a strange place to be--different enough that most people aren't interested in talking about the things you care about, but not different "enough" that those who CAN talk about the things you care about will allow you to participate in the conversation.

So it was quite refreshing to talk with several people today about such topics and to realize that for once, I hadn't felt as though I had to overcome large quantities of resistance--attempting to "convince" those involved in the conversation that I could manage it. The conversation just flowed and I didn't really even notice the lack of resistance until I reflected on it later. It was very odd. I wonder what happened to the hoops today? Why WEREN'T they present? Or were they present and I just didn't notice them?

1 comment:

Dave said...

Funny how it can take the good part of a lifetime to figure out what was happening "back when...."
And it takes a brave person to forge ahead on a path that is uncommon. Often such people never get rewarded in this life, but their memories are lauded (e.g. authors, artists...).