The life of a Zebra, Gifted, High Potential Profile
Article updated on January 13, 2022
Bravo Jonathan for this magnificent testimony, poignant with truth and authenticity.
Many zebras will recognize themselves…
Very nice day to all.
A huge thank you to Jonathan for his testimony on Suivez le Zèbre🙂
“For a while now I have been reading different texts and testimonies on the subject(zebras, high potential people, gifted, philo-cognitive), I decided to testify in my turn.
A very personal vision of my relationship with a giftedness diagnosed a few weeks ago. Which has both brought its share of answers and triggered an unprecedented cataclysm.
Thanks for this blog by the way! It has been an important part of my journey and research.
However, I remain optimistic, and I hope that this testimony will help some people facing a condition that is sometimes badly lived… It is an analysis of my life that I am proposing, because this is what the diagnosis of giftedness has brought, and replaying the thread of his life under the spectrum of this new element can sometimes be … disturbing.
Thank you in advance for your indulgence in this text. I rarely write, and this testimony took some time, if only to try to sort out all the ideas and thoughts that were coming.
The cornerstone of my development: anxiety
It will have been difficult to accept but the conclusion is clear. And clearly, this has led to a lot of anger, often, and resentment, sometimes. It takes time to get past that.
Of course the environment will be important for anyone, gifted or not. A healthy, caring and stimulating environment will be ideal for everyone.
However, I realize that this specificity that is mine, “ours”, may have had the effect of increasing the impact of this environment tenfold. I have had (and still have) parents who were anxious, depressed, worried about everything and anything, especially illnesses. I developed a particularly strong interest in the medical field, but I also imbibed my parents’ anxieties,anxiety, and pessimism, and this intellectual power was conditioned, used to develop anxieties and anxiety patterns if I let it get started.
Gifted: Childhood, adolescence, early adulthood… a life on the edge
One cannot consider being gifted without re-analyzing one’s life path. For me, my diagnosis has led to a complete rethinking of my life to date.
As a child, I always oscillated between a state of extreme calm, in appearance only (it was already bubbling inside), andexuberance and excitement.
In fact, because I was experimenting…
I was trying to figure out how best to behave and react, with little success at the time. I understood that something wasn’t working the same way, but I still couldn’t put a word to it.
The theories, the rules, some of them a bit outdated… have always been very easily integrated in my home. Be polite, hold the door for teachers… All these concepts were easy for me to grasp and facilitated my relationships with adults, much less with people my age.
All this remained true during adolescence and adulthood is no exception, I do not approach things and analyses like my colleagues and my boss and this often leads to misunderstandings or tense relationships with certain people who clearly do not understand me.
The trigger: my girlfriend!
Sweetness in the chaos…
There was immediately a deep understanding of each other and we are still in tune with each other today, some years later, despite our obvious differences.
A way of thinking, a way of reacting and approaching things that was unusual. His uniqueness jumped out at me more than my own, which I still couldn’t put into words.
My comments echoed a deep feeling in her, and she decided to take steps to put an end to it all. It doesn’t matter which one in the end, but to finally find an answer to this question: “who am I? The process was long and painful and still is, but she is beginning to get her answers. Obvious for those who know her well, less easy to accept for her. But that’s her story. 🙂
During this period, in parallel to the visits with specialists, she read a lot of reference books in several subjects.
One of which I decided to read… before a long list of others: Trop intelligent pour être heureux!
A challenging read: “Trop intelligent pour être heureux” by Jeanne Siaud-Facchin
The title seemed a bit presumptuous, but I realized what it was all about as I read, and the beginning really stirred up some deep pain, so much so that I stopped and put the book aside for a few weeks.
All the answers were there… I had never really felt concerned and so I tended to remain fixed on the outdated vision that a good number of people still have of someone called“High Potential“. A kind of superior being with exceptional intelligence and, inevitably, with a brilliant success.
But I understood while reading that the reality is more complicated than that, in the light of a rich functioning of all the different forms that it can take, as much as all the zebras that exist:
– I understood the notion of qualitatively different intelligence;
– I understood its tree-like functioning;
– I understood the cyclothymic disorder that can make moods and thoughts vary so quickly and so strongly;
– I understood the different “types” of zebras;
And so many other things…
Like reading a description of yourself and your story. No more shrinks whose exchanges are so full of white threads that you wonder why you go there because deep down you feel that nothing changes. More discussions with certain people to whom you express your discomfort and your particularities and who answer you
– Oh you know, it’s a bit like everyone else, we all have that / we all feel that / we all function like that sometimes” ;
– “well that’s just it… ! Sometimes, not all the time, like me!”
And a lot more answers than by looking at certain pathologies (who knows?) such as bipolarity…
Then came the questions, what if… ?
A late diagnosis followed by a complete rethink
So I finally decided to push the door of an inter-university center after a lot of research and I had a complete check-up.
The results only confirmed a deep feeling that was already there, but I finally had a word to put on it. Randomly, it also became apparent that this intellectual power tends to be undermined by deep-seated anxiety patterns.
In a way, the diagnosis was a relief. But after several weeks it also had the effect ofexacerbating questions that were already present before, I had the sensation of waking up (violently) an important part of me that was sleeping.
The changes are underway. We have moved to a quieter, more suitable living environment (we were living in a noisy apartment) and I am seriously rethinking my career plans.
Of course I was to some extent already aware that my current job did not suit me, but this diagnosis and the acceptance of this atypical functioning accelerated things.
In a way, now that “I know”, the more I try to go against this nature, the more the reactions (both physical and psychic) become violent.
As I said at the very beginning, I try to stay optimistic.
I am not immediately able to work where I am engaged but, being in my thirties, it is better now than at the end of my career. And I take the opportunity to ask myself the right questions, and try to find something that corresponds to my specificities and my values (this quest for meaning…). It takes time and the right job may not be the first.
I try to respect my individuality more, something I always tended to put on the back burner in favor of others and their expectations.
In this kind of situation, those around you will often advise you to “rest”, to step back and try to let go. For my part, I realize that this would have a counterproductive effect and even tend to make things worse.
It is when I am idle and let my mind wander that I feel at my worst.
Imbued with my experience, these moments are the open door to dark and distressing thoughts, accompanied by various physical symptoms that are difficult to live with (discomfort, anxiety attacks, dizziness, ophthalmic migraines, etc.).
If, on the other hand, these moments are used to work on new ideas, new projects, this is when all the potential and energy is awakened, the anxieties dry up and the mind actually “calms down”.
To conclude, I would say that if some people experience something similar to me, it is important to structure things for the future, with resource persons or specialists trained in this specificity of ours.
Faced with the abundance and violence of certain ideas, it is sometimes difficult to sort them out, especially when you are not used to it and you “wake up”.
That’s what I decided to do, hoping to find some answers and to live better this beginning of a new life :).
Thanks again Jonathan and thanks to all of you, for being there, for reading me, for reading us and for being more numerous every day!
Want to tell us your story or discuss a topic on Suivez le Zèbre
You can also find more information, resources and tools on High Potential in Mel POINAS book. With a lot of humor, Mel tells the story of the discovery of her High Potential and the routines she put in place to finally find her place!
Écrit par une HPI !
Un témoignage et des solutions concrètes pour découvrir, comprendre et apprendre à vivre en étant HPI.
To go further, you can read
- The best books about High Learning Potential
- Giftedness : 20 characteristics of complex and laminar profiles
- How to take the WAIS 4 test?
- Gifted, learn to manage your anxiety!
- How to tell others we are gifted?
- Giftedness and Hypersensitivity