Being a gifted person is already a challenge in French Society. Is being a giftedwoman reinforces this feeling of being out of step?
Does being a gifted woman presents an additional challenge? Do gifted women feel even more out of step? What motivates us? What solutions and advice can we put in place for living serenely as a gifted woman?
A divergent thinking (commonly called tree-like thinking)
High standards and perfectionism
Great facility for analysis
Highly developed curiosity
Fear of failure
A heightened feeling of being out of step
Being a chameleon (social camouflage)
Fanny Marais, coach specialised in the accompaniment of Hypersensitive and Gifted women
A coach since 2018, Fanny Marais has trained in systemics and in coaching Gifted and Hypersensitive people. She was employed for 12 years in large French companies. She left her last job in 2017 and started in 2018 as a coach and trainer, then she published her first book in 2020. A rather quick professional transition!
Hypersensitivity is often linked to giftedness, but it manifests itself differently in each individual.
Fanny: ‘What I often explain is that most of the time, there is a lot of hypersensitivity in gifted people. And it is often what leads them to seek help or encounter difficulties in their lives. Finally, ion the case of gifted people who are doing well, we will not see this hypersensitivity right away, or they will have very well tamed it. Others will have masked theiremotionsso well that their emotional self-awarenesswill be low. They will not belistening to themselves. All of this means that that this hypersensitivitywill not emerge.
‘In a hypersensitivewoman, you identify very quickly that she is feeling a lot of emotions and sensations, all with intensity.’
Social norms are very demanding, although women are becoming more and more liberated. Nevertheless, there are still many gifted (or non-gifted) people who cannot fit into these social norms.
Fanny: ‘I believe that these women do not fit into the mold very early on because they do not experience their relationship to the world in the same way. For them, it is like a second skin to have to question a whole bunch of things. With these giftedwomen,there is this visceral desire to understand.
To understand why certain rules are set up this way? Why is it necessary to get married, have children, buy a house? Is that what happiness is all about?’
Gifted women, rebel spirits?
Finally, are gifted women more rebellious than other women? Fanny: ‘It is not necessarily a rebellious side, it is an attempt to discover things. Some giftedwomen decide to integrate these norms so as not feel this detachment, until the day it may break.
Others prefer to question themselves, to wonder, and this is where I encourage them to go all the way because if they stay halfway, they may still suffer from seeing that they are on the margins of the traditional path. This traditional path can lead to a feeling of confinement for these giftedwomen because it is the opposite of one of their values which is freedom, and freedom of mind above all. But, once the norm is accepted and validated, it is possible to slip into it.’
The gifted woman and her paradoxes
Every individual struggles with their own paradoxes, this is what makesthe richness of a personality and also the interest of life, finding a form of inner peace in response to our internal conflicts. In the case of the giftedwoman,the intrinsic paradoxes can be even more numerous and intense.
Fanny: ‘When I talk about these gifted women, I like to highlight their beautiful paradoxes: a strength of life mixed with great sensitivity, an audacity restrained by the gaze of others, a desire to assume to be out of line while constantly regretting not staying there…‘
Does this inability to fit into the norm for these gifted women, despite their desire to do so, make them more prone to existential and identity crises?
Fanny: ‘Yes, completely, but what is interesting is that this giftedwomanis more capable of overcoming this crisis. She will draw on the many resources she has at her disposal, but also on the imaginative, emotional and intellectual stimulations that will allow her to find solutions and bounce back.‘
Despite this incredible resilience will this giftedwoman always feel out of step?
Gifted woman, a feeling of being at odds
The many choices we make in our lives have an impact on who we are but also on our environment and those around us… When she makes choices considered out of step:
Becoming an entrepreneur or business leader
Not wanting children
Not wanting to get married
Juggling multiple professions
Being a high-level athlete
Pursuing a profession considered masculine
Having homosexual, bisexual or polyamorous relationships
A woman can quickly feel out of step with the rest of society when she breaks the rules. This is especially true if the woman making this choice is also gifted. Her values and vision of the world will affirm and reinforce these choices.
‘This theme was suggested to me by Leduc, but I had had it in mind for a long time. I would also have loved to write about men and Giftedness and Hypersensitivity for men can be just as complex to live with at times,maybe it will be the next book!When you’re a woman you experience things differently on a biological level and that also explains this feeling of confusion or discrepancy that sometimes leads to misunderstanding.’
Gifted women: their motivations
From childhood, these women feel different. ‘‘Some choose to toe the line, to pass under the radar, to soften this feeling. But one day, it can catch up with them. Many people have a tendency to please others and do things right to make their loved ones proud.‘
Especially in the case of hypersensitive and giftedwomen, there is a real concern about what others will think. There is a need to feel loved. ‘These unconscious, guilt-inducing behaviours are barriers that we develop depending on our education, our family, and societal environment. They will haunt us until we become aware of them. From then on, we can ask ourselves: when I don’t dare to say no so as not to displease, what do I gain from it?’
Of course, depending on one’s upbringing and background, the need to please can be more or less developed in different people. ThewomenI talk about in thisbookhave progressively developed the‘be strong’rather than the ‘please others’.
These gifted and hypersensitive women choose to fully assume their differences in their perception of life, of the world, of others, to magnify them.
Gifted women: the question of motherhood
Many women do not wish to have children. It is their choice, it is their own business, yet today, in the eyes of society, a woman is still and always meant to be a mother.
‘I had many questions in coaching from giftedwomen, especially on the issue ofnot having children.. did some research, cross-referenced different social science sources and contacted Astrid Hurault de Ligny, who has since written Le regret maternel (Maternal Regret) in order to better understand it.
I identified several possibilities that explains this choice of non-motherhood among gifted or hypersensitive women: – The relationship with the body, some do not want it to change and/or to feel dispossessed of their own body. – Hypersensitivity, highly sensitive people are always overstimulated by their environment. The need to rest is vital. The need to rest is vital. – Hypersensoriality (or hyperesthesia), the first years of an infant’s life can be a challenge! – The fear of not being intellectually nourished during the child’s early months of development. – The transgenerational aspect, some women do not want to restart the eternal cycle of motherhood.
A major obstacle to the desire for motherhood is also the fear of oneself.
Gifted women, overcoming self-fear
If a giftedwoman accumulates too many demands and does not have time to decompress, it can quickly become very complicated to manage. She sometimes ends up exploding, which can lead to impulsivity, annoyance and the time bomb effect can be scary when you become responsible for another human being, especially a baby.
If you’re experiencing these doubts, we recommend reading Mel Poinas’ article on pets and how her relationship with her dog influenced her desire to be a mother.
If you find yourself in the time bomb effect, like Fanny we advise you to learn to tame your emotions. By understanding your functioning, you already have the end of the ball of wool to untangle. Don’t worry, when you’re gifted, managing emotions is often a real puzzle. And Zoé, the heroine of HPI, Une vie haute au couleur (Comic book HIP, A colourful life) is not going to say otherwise.
If you are looking for advice on how to better manage the time bomb effect, reading the book Suivez le Zèbre can help you, especially the last chapter entitled ‘Survival guide’, which is very effective in learning how to manage your time, your emotions, yourself and your relationship with others.
If you ever wish to be accompanied, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) carried out with a psychologist is a precious help along with coaching.
The quest for identity is unique to each person, and everyone can, at some point, question their own identity. At Suivez le Zèbre, we know that discovering one’s Giftedness is a real upheaval. It calls into question everything we thought we knew about ourselves and acts almost as a rebirth.
Despite doubts, it is often a great relief and an opening to finally find one’s place.
For Fanny, For Fanny, ‘the goal is to define what is important to us, and to assert our choices according to what we have defined as being key points of development and fulfilment for ourselves. This is also why the book ends with a carte blanche by Fabrice Micheau, who talks about this question of identity and autonomy, because I believe that this is the key to fulfilment.
Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration* is based on the same principle: when I come to a point in my life where I don’t feel good, do I stay there or do I take advantage of it to reflect on how I could transform myself?’
Why read Femmes à Haut Potentiel Intellectuel et Sensible by Fanny Marais
To help gifted women live without feeling the need to justify themselves or seek validation, it is essential that they feel legitimate. The discovery of one’s own giftedness is part of this process.
At Suivez le Zèbre, we loved Fanny’s book! It really helps women in their quest for identity and acceptance of their choices. It’s a reassuring, guilt-free book that is good for mentality. It’s truly accessible to everyone.
‘Somemenhave enjoyed reading thebookto better understand what’s going on with thewomen who isGifted. It has even resonated with some of them, especially as the notion of barriers between genders evolves today.