Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I've touched on this point in earlier posts: I fit the definition of "gifted". That doesn't necessarily make me more rational than an average person, it just means that I fit the sections established by a group of people I know nothing of that made a test that placed me in the "gifted" section. To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure what that means.

What I do know is that it means that anything describing an average person's mind is even less likely to apply to me. I always think of a science experiment one of my friends did when we were in middle school.* He put in several types of liquid in different containers, each containing three liquids. He shook it and they mixed. But when he let it set, they stratified. The difference was strong enough that the liquids could look solid if you dropped certain objects in them--ball of solid X would drop straight through substances A and B but stop promptly at C, making it look like it had hit a tabletop. Y would fall through A, bob down under A and into B's surface, then roll around. If you tilted the glass slowly--without spilling or mixing--they would roll around just as if there were perfectly solid planes, unless X popped up, in which case it would go up and down through the separation of A and B, then promptly fall back through. It was really cool. And people are like that. If you mix it up, A, B, and C will jumble; if you let it stratify then the top and the bottom are notably different from the center. Any generalization you make will, at best, only apply to the majority of the population. X would fall right past us, and would just barely brush the other side of the bell curve.

In the interests of a simpler metaphor, however, I'll go back to an old favorite: a teaspoon of oil on a large glass of water.

Before I continue, I want to make something clear: oil is not better than water. Yes, oil is on the top. Yes, we can use oil to do some pretty cool things--see light, cars, etc. However, we need water to survive. I'm not going to argue if/that people in the higher percentiles are better. Or worse, for that matter.

I'm here because I want to be able to present evidence that I was like this.

I look back on old memories sometimes, and they seem surreal. Like before I figured out I could sing. Or, and this one is weirder, before I figured out I liked it.** It's also odd to just look at my old handwriting, but even odder is my old thought process. I remember having bursts of insight, but what I didn't realize for a while was that I remember these because they were rare.

For instance, one situation that is burned quite clearly into my head--not in these words, just in the experience; I didn't put it into words immediately:
I'm sitting out behind my teacher's classroom. We are planning for a party, and we are in elementary school. The teachers gave us a budget and we'd already decided on the restaurant by a vote. We had to figure out, given the menu and budget, what we wanted. We had already agreed there would be no formal leader.

Very rapidly, everyone was talking at once.

I don't like noise. I don't like disrespect. I don't like everyone talking and no one listening, and I certainly did not enjoy the confluence.

With an anger I barely noticed until I let it out, I shouted for quiet. Every person in our neat little circle froze, went silent, and looked at me.

But at the time, all I felt was a sudden link to every single person in the circle, and a feeling of being on a web stretched taut. Any strong move would snap it.

"Alright," I said quietly, picking up some random object I had already settled on. I started into an explanation of how we could pass this among people, and only the person holding it could talk--

The girl across from me jumps up and shouts, "No! No leaders!"

And we descend back into madness. Eventually the teacher comes out to chide us, and we successfully manage to get everything under enough control to decide. For those of you who are looking for the details I've left out: Panda Express, I believe, and the party went off marvelously.

And that was, for years, one of my most vivid memories. I took this to mean that I had had some sixth sense as a child that I had lost as I grew, one that allowed me to control a group like that and sense the interactions in a group as they related to me.

Then I thought some more.

And I realized that this was the most extreme memory I had of such a thing. In other words, the situation I had been in was interesting, highly emotional, and novel. I remembered for the same reason my classmates shut up: it was weird. I didn't usually raise my voice above ambient, or get that angry, or call attention to myself. Put simply, I was confusing something that happened once and intensely with something that happened often.

And that means that any reasonable person can point to exactly that argument, and be fully correct if I can only give one example of me thinking like [description] when I way [number] years old.

But what this blog allows me to do is make a public journal. I can go through, think of things that I would be willing to share with the world at this point in time, and then explain them, to the best of my understanding, now. In addition to forcing myself to think through these things, I am also giving my future self a look at what I could do consistently. Maybe this is not a good cross-section of my entire thought process--if I think something is too personal, or that I don't understand it at all, then I won't post it. But it does mean that I can link, say, "Look at the date and do the math," then say that, yes, I really did think like that.

Or, should I get to cocky, go back, think to my self, "Look at how recent that is," and know that I really did think like that.

Because if I look up a study that says, "The average child will be like this at this developmental stage," I have good reason to assume that will not apply to me. And, knowing how my memory works, I cannot rely on it to tell me how I was. The oil on water metaphor doesn't just apply for gifted people versus the center of the bell curve. Take the reverse, and it also works for memories. Forgetting how I was is the same as forgetting my history; I'm going to make the same mistakes over and over.


And That's Terrible.

* My apologies for the vagueness. I can see the image in my head, but I can't remember any of the specifics.
** Just for the funny: When a person came to our school to talk about college and majors, she said we probably wouldn't be certain what major we wanted to have unless we had been focused on one thing and hadn't wavered since third grade. Guess when I started being seriously interested in singing.

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