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An Open Letter to the Gifted Kid

Dear Gifted Kid,

Congrats, you're gifted. Don't ask me what that's supposed to mean.

I know what you're feeling. I understand the gauntlet you're going through called "middle school." I know your struggles. And I have some things that I need you to understand.

1. You are not better than the other students.

I say this with love. I know that it's so hard to admit sometimes, but deep down there is a part of you that thinks you are better than them. You are no more (or less!) of a human being than they are. You are wonderful- of course. But so are they. Reach out to them. Listen to their ideas, even if they're not very good ones. Let other people raise their hands (I'm looking at you, Little Me).
I know everyone is stuffing your butt with sunshine, but you need to block their praise out sometimes. Don't let them put you on a mile-high pedestal; it hurts so much when you fall.

2. You will fall!

Seriously. Get ready. You will hit a wall that seems a thousand feet high. This Huge Awful Wall will challenge you like you never had been challenged. Do not- I repeat, do NOT give up when you hit this wall. This wall will teach you what it feels like to learn at a pace that's just right. When you hit this Huge Awful Wall, you are exactly where you need to be. Believe it or not, the walls you've just flown over have actually seemed just like your Huge Awful Wall to some of the people around you- have a little empathy. (Just be careful not to veer into pity.)

3. Your "giftedness" does not define you, for better or for worse.

Some of you might be aching to be defined by this, the one thing you feel like you can get right. But it doesn't define you. You contain multitudes. You are more than your brilliant academic standing. Work on some other talents. Join sports, learn teamwork. Make crafts, engage creativity. Pick up hobbies. Hang out with friends. There is more to life than good grades. PS- grades are not as important as they seem. You can't measure self-worth with letters and numbers. You can't use grades to fall in love, to write poetry, to listen to beautiful music, to widen your perspective, to do the most important things in life. You are smart without your grades, and you are also much more than just smart.

4. Ask for help.

You are not infallible, nor do you need to be. You can ask for help. You can need help. You can have no idea what you're doing. You can fail. You can feel like giving up. You can cry. You can feel like you're not good enough. You are allowed to be imperfect. The adults in your life may have high hopes for you, but don't let that make you feel like you're always one step away from being a disappointment. You are still young. You are still learning and growing. It is nothing shameful to need help- even grown-ups do.

5. Find something impossible and do it.

Your giftedness may seem like both a blessing and a curse- because it is. It's a struggle. Non-gifted students won't understand. But remember why it's a gift- because it gives you the potential to do some pretty amazing things. Don't settle for good enough when you know it's not your personal best. I promise, your best is beyond good enough- it's amazing.

So, gifted kid, be bold. Be daring. Be kind. Be soft. Be strong. Be open. I believe in you.

In the words of a magnificent space pirate/cyborg, "you're going to rattle the stars, you are."

Love,

a former Gifted Kid

***And here's a note to the Gifted Kid's parents and teachers- giftedness usually comes with emotional difficulties, too. Do not assume that just because this kid's smart, they must have the maturity and self-confidence to match. They need emotional guidance. Watch for mental illness, autism, ADD/HD, sensory processing disorders, emotional disorders, anxiety, etc. Teach them not only science and language but emotions and relationships. Counsel them. Spend time on them. They are not tiny adults, they are just children.
And for heaven's sake, challenge them. They need it.

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