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Head in the Clouds and Jumping through Hoops

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While I’m taking a bit of a break from blogging as I spend time with our new baby, my friend Nikki Linn took some time to write a guest blog on her experience as a gifted adult. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!

We discuss gifted children and asynchronous learners quite a bit. But what happens when they grow up? How do learning differences and needs continue into adulthood? How do we fulfill those needs while following conventional paths?

As a gifted adult, the world SPARKLES around me with beauty, emotion and intuition. “Head in the clouds” has often been used to imply that I am distractible, and unfocused. Perhaps I am simply more interested in the exquisite view above the haze, than the monotony within it.

Words and ideas are constantly springing around in my head, and I try to keep a notebook or iPhone close by to make notes before the ideas wisp away.

My desire to do something good in this world drives me to new pursuits. It encourages me to be a better parent, and use my emotional overexcitabilities to empathize with my children, to really hear and see what their needs are, and guide them to fulfilling pursuits. It helps me understand their social needs and tendencies, and embrace their difficulties and quirks.

Intellectual overexcitability pushes me to learn new things constantly, while my lack of free time helps me to narrow subjects to fit my priorities.

I’ve recently decided to pursue a graduate degree in family therapy; it feels like a calling. My increased sensitivity will serve me well, my “head in the clouds” will be a benefit.  At the same time, I am placing myself back into the world of the one-size-fits-all educational track, and my divergent mind fights this.

Gifted students don’t need the entire load of coursework to master the material. Rather, we independently delve into a subject, build upon ideas and test theories, and ultimately learn far more than a traditional class would offer.

I wish higher education was fashioned in such a way. I’ve already caught myself jumping down rabbit holes while I am supposed to be concentrating on one paper, one topic.

I find other concepts of interest within my assigned work, and about an hour later realize that I have wasted valuable homework time learning about something that is not a priority, and now I need to scramble to finish my original task.

But is it really time wasted? According to whom? Which part of my learning will be the most valuable to me, and can a cookie-cutter program assess that?

In my ideal program, I would receive a list of books to read. Rather than pay a high tuition to a learning facility for a professor to direct me through said books over a few years, I would instead use that time and money to visit and talk with therapists and authors whose work I admire.

I want true hands-on learning, observing their practices, taking notes, asking questions. In the meantime, I would help families and children; apprenticeship-style. I’d spend those years participating in interactive workshops and trainings that are pertinent to the knowledge that will make me more competent in my chosen field. No time wasting, 100% learning toward my goal.

Wouldn’t that be beautiful? I bet I would finish with a more comprehensive, practical set of skills.

Unfortunately, licensing boards do not see this method as valuable as I do.

I’m choosing to follow this one-way street toward the end goal, but there’s no reason I can’t make it sparkle!  I’ll guide my inquisitive and creative spirit to work for me, toward my path instead of steering me away from it. I will supplement my education with experience, volunteering with teens in crisis, learning about Nonviolent Communication, and supporting other gifted families. I’ll facilitate learning paths for my children that meet their needs.

There is change in the air surrounding higher education, and who knows – maybe methods will be more learner-directed in the future, and the next generation will have greater flexibility while they navigate their schooling.

I’ll continue to take “head in the clouds” as a compliment, and at least hopscotch my way through these hoops.

How do you fulfill your unconventional needs while traveling conventional paths?

NicoleLinnNicole spends most of her time homeschooling her young daughters, reading, writing and playing outdoors in beautiful Northern Arizona. She is a volunteer crisis specialist for Crisis Text Line, volunteers for and is published by NAGC and GHF, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. She blogs about gifted adults and children at Through a Stronger Lens.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Celi Trépanier March 2, 2015, 6:39 pm

    It wasn’t until I read this that I remembered that my mom used to say this about me all the time–“you have your head in the clouds.” Now, I have two out of three sons just like me!

    This was such a wonderful post for gifted adults because even though we are adults, giftedness does not go away. Thanks, Nikki and Bob!

    • Nicole Linn March 3, 2015, 7:09 am

      Thanks, Celi! My girls are like this, too. I feel for my husband some days. 😉

  • Cait Fitz @ My Little Poppies March 3, 2015, 5:23 am

    I love this, Nikki and Bob! Nikki, you’re going to be a fantastic therapist and I agree that a book list and rabbit holes would be more fun and educational than the traditional path. I do feel the winds of change, though, when it comes to higher ed.

    PS. I’m constantly writing down ideas in my iPhone or in my planner, too. They keep falling out of my brain 🙂 Best of luck in your studies and cheers to the new parents!

  • Nicole Linn March 3, 2015, 7:13 am

    I have great optimism that higher education will have changed completely by the time our youngest are ready for it! I hope more professionals look back to the value of apprenticeship over also. Fingers crossed! Thanks for the kind words, Cait!

  • Chris March 3, 2015, 9:34 am

    Your idea for a program that’s more of an apprenticeship makes sense to me! When I was in grad school for social work, I always felt that my internships were the places where I learned the most. Of course, I was fortunate to have excellent placements and supervisors. There’s nothing like developing a mentor relationship with someone who’s great at what they do, and watching the lessons you didn’t realize you were learning fall into place once you’re on your own!

    • Nicole Linn March 3, 2015, 11:22 pm

      Chris, I could not agree with you more! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  • Paula Prober March 5, 2015, 3:01 pm

    It’s so exciting that you’re getting a grad degree in family therapy. I was in a very traditional program but I did find ways to get outside the box now and then. I think because I was older, expressed confidence in what I wanted, and had a couple of flexible profs, it worked pretty well. Like Chris says, the internships are usually the best places to learn. Maybe you’ll end up teaching in a graduate program one day and designing it just as you describe it here!

    From my experience, being a therapist is extremely rewarding. Thanks for this post, Nicole and Bob! (I love that idea–hopscotching through the hoops–Yeah!)

    • byamtich March 5, 2015, 6:50 pm

      Thanks Paula! And Nicole, I am particularly inspired by your post as I work on some career transitions on my own. I hopscotched through the hoops to get my MFT in California, but I’m having a hard time getting licensed in Arkansas. If the coolest kids nowadays are getting by without college, what is the “unschooling” method of licensure?

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