Are you an XIP, extra intelligent, extra intense, or gifted? How relevant, helpful and accurate is such an indication, such a label for you nowadays?
As you may feel reluctant to apply this label to yourself or to others, you may also feel that you don’t want to talk about it anymore after a while. Compare it to cancelling your membership of an association because you have changed your areas of interest.
But to what extent can you interpret beyond the literal label and see it as a theme that goes far beyond the requirements and standards of the label, beyond the attention it attracts from the outside world?
Are you aware of a major theme, a leitmotif in your life’s story, guiding you from the inside out to gradually discover what it’s like to be your unusually complex and intense self?
How do label and theme relate to each other?
The word label refers to a card with information that you can attach to something, so you know what it is. A certain label is the result of a consideration plus conclusion about something or someone, based on compliance with certain characteristics or standards.
It is my experience, backed by Myers-Briggs’ arrangement of Judging versus Perceiving types, that some people consider labels more important and clarifying than others, who think they are of only limited and temporary value.
Similarly, acquiring the label “Gifted” or “XIP” will have a totally different meaning and value for various people. Of course the process of acquiring the label is quite relevant too: Was it an objective assessment, or a subjective recognition of characteristics? Was a professional involved? How many and what kind of people shared the opinion, etcetera.
We see the same basic process for the expectations that are connected to a label. Label lovers may spend some time bickering whether or not a specific expectation is appropriate. However, once an expectation becomes a characteristic element, it is considered inappropriate to not meet that expectation when “wearing” the label.
This induces the involved to feel guilt or shame when not meeting the ‘requirement’ (consider e.g. the implicit charge of the word underachievement), or they might come to the conclusion that the label just does not apply to them.
People who have little affinity with labels on the other hand, experience such expectations rather as an attack on their freedom as well as on their competence to be able to act immediately on their sharp observations. They counter by trying to regain their freedom through ‘flight’ or ignoring the expectation. They might also short circuit themselves by changing into a kind of controlling behaviour that blocks their intuition.
Are you aware of how convenient, inevitable or maybe useless and misleading you consider labels, typologies or expectations, and does that depend on whether people apply them to you or to others?
Old passport photograph
An acquired label is actually created as a snapshot, like a passport photo. How long will this photograph be a proper representation of how you look?
Will it bore you after a while, or will this official image of who you are, your identity, start to annoy you?
Mary-Elaine Jacobsen explains in her book “The Gifted Adult” (see this page):
If you are flooded with information from all your senses from the first day of your existence and still manage to experience coherence, you will develop into a quantitatively and qualitatively different personality compared to someone who only receives a fraction of all that information, and who experiences only a fraction of its coherence.
But we use the same label for a 10-year-old or a 40- or 60-year-old. At the most, we correct the IQ-test scores for age.
So my question is: How can you become aware of the impact that your unusually strong intelligence and intensity has had on how your life unfolded, on the recurring dilemmas, or even their solution? What has it actually done to your relationships at work and at home, causing them to take place as they did?
A theme in your life’s story
When using your own experiences as a reference, their meaning may transcend beyond that “externally defined and supplied label”: There actually is a theme in your life, a thread woven through the process of discovery and exploration and expression of who you are.
That theme could very well be playing an important role in your life and provide it with additional meaning and satisfaction.
It’s your way of taking care of yourself and of all the unusual complexity, intensity and passion that exists within you. It affects your physical body, your intuition, your feelings and your mind in a most characteristic way.
This does not mean that you have to be constantly aware of this theme. But it helps to be open to the signs of its existence: “There it is again.” “Oh, yes, I happen to manage those kinds of things simply differently than what is usual, nothing wrong with that.” “That was a conversation where we could both exchange at full throttle, wonderful! Shall we do it again some other time?”
Taking note of those signs is a way of coming home to yourself.
Discover your own fit
The theme plays a vital role in your personal development. Whereas the label may feel a bit boring at some point, or rather incomplete: By now you are fully aware that there are so much more characteristics and qualities involved than ever was required to qualify for the label.
That’s why the title of this blog is: “A theme to grow into”:
If it has very recently become clear that you obviously / possibly / quite probably / officially belong to the target group, the topic veers around you like a very oversized garment. You have no idea what to do with it, you might become worried about all the opportunities you apparently missed in the past. Or you’re trying to cope with all the expectations, including your own, that now inevitably will be projected upon you: “If you’re so smart, you surely must be able to…” The label will attract lots of attention, even yours.
When you give regular thought to how extra intelligence, intensity, giftedness, is a theme in your life’s story, its fit will improve and you may start noticing that the “garment” is actually very becoming.
Consider also that the theme was already a theme before you knew it was: That is why many XIPs and Gifted experience that they need to rewrite several chapters of their biography after their “discovery”. It all starts making proper sense.
If you manage to keep a safe distance from “the need to prove your label” and just give attention to the theme’s influence in your life, you can derive more and lasting pleasure from your unusual intelligence and intensity. It may happen in a way that you cannot fathom now.
It is fortunate that the target group usually sports curiosity as a characteristic feature:
It increases your personal effectiveness to also be curious about yourself and your connections to this theme.