The Sensitive Child – Gifted?
Linore shared in her interview earlier in the week that she was a sensitive child. She grew up in a large family. More opportunities for sibling rivalry and teasing, too, I imagine! Sensitivity can stem from many different sources. A common cause is from a dysfunctional home life where criticism, or worse, takes place. There are also conditions, such as Asperger's (next week is Autism Awareness Week, by the way) which cause the child to be more sensitive yet at the same time the child may appear unaware or at times even nonreactive to social slights. But one source is from being highly gifted.
Among those who work with gifted children, it is commonly noticed that there is heightened sensitivity within this group. It is so common that among educators of the gifted, it is “expected” rather than seen as something unusual. For someone like Linore, a gifted writer, who graduated with honors from the City University of New York, wouldn’t it be nice to have a time travel machine and go back and make those hurts from sensitivity go away? That would be the temptation if there was such a device. But God knows best. The sensitive nature of a gifted writer would make them pay attention both to the internal thoughts and feelings of people, which translates into their characters being more fully developed. And that heightened awareness of the things around oneself can’t help but bring vibrant details to a novelist’s writing.
Overcoming sensitivity – I’m not sure that would be such a good thing for the gifted writer! What do you think? Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted http://www.sengifted.org/ SENG might see this as one characteristic of an extremely gifted child.
Linore writes: Carrie has posed an interesting question. If I could go back and temper my sensitivity with a bit of mature wisdom, it would certainly relieve a great deal of pain that I endured, much of which, I'm sure, stemmed from misunderstanding the cues of others. The sensitive child takes everything personally. In my case, I needed verbal reassurance, a lot of it, and this was utterly lacking in my busy, stressed-out family. My mother did tell me I was sensitive, but the message was that this was burdensome to her and at that time it told me nothing other than that. (I was burdensome.) NEVER imagined sensitivity was a gift. My mom wasn't trying to be mean, but telling me I was sensitive and leaving it at that never translated to me into "Maybe I'm magnifying things." Or, "Maybe this person's anger has nothing to do with me." And so on.
As for overcoming sensitivity and writing: I never want to forget what it's like to be highly sensitive. I think, now, it is a gift. But I HAVE overcome the general "it's all about ME" baggage that comeswith that sensitivity (maybe not for everyone, but often this is the case). It's difficult for a super-sensitive person to see that sometimes their sensitivity is a form of selfishness! They have trouble letting go of their cherished illusions of intentional grievances, when in fact, people are much more often thoughtless and INsensitive without any real malice whatsoever.
I'm all for the healing of the hurting hearts that sensitivity can result in. But being empathetic is also sensitivity, and that's never a bad thing, be we writers, teachers, parents or friends. I do think it has strengthened my writing immeasurably.
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