Feeling different - what would you do?Lisa looked around the room. Everyone seemed so busy. What were they doing? She was sure the boss had said to come prepared. She was ready. Or was she? Had she missed something? Vicky was busy writing. Tim was searching for something in a book. Maybe she should ask the boss what they were supposed to be doing. No. That wouldn’t work. The boss would just get annoyed. She seemed to get annoyed at just about everything Lisa did these days.

Lisa looked at the clock. It was nearly 11:30. How would there be enough time for everyone to present their ideas before lunch? She had been so confident when she left the house. For the first time in quite a while, she actually spent time on what the boss had asked them all to do. She liked the task she had been given, so that helped. She enjoyed working out the details of the project, enjoyed the research she had to do. Her final report, she thought, was good. But maybe she hadn’t done enough. Her anxiety was on the express elevator going up and would soon be at the top level.

“Calm down,” Lisa told herself. It was so much easier when she just didn’t bother trying. That was a trick she had learned a couple years after starting this job. She remembered when she first started. She was eager and ready to learn all she could. She was sure she would do well. But then she realized that her coworkers weren’t as interested as she was, and they seemed to work at a snail’s pace. She often wished she had button she could push to make things speed up. Like this meeting.

Lisa looked at the clock again: 11:45. No way would there be enough time now. She began to get restless. She starting drumming her fingers on her desk and tapping her foot. The boss looked up and gave her a stare that told her “Enough!” She knew that look. She had seen it many, many times. The boss looked at the clock.

“It looks like we’ll need to finish up after lunch. Good work, everyone!” the boss said. “I’ll see you all back here in an hour.”

“Good work?” Lisa thought to herself. What work? What is everyone doing? Did everyone else get a special assignment? Was she left out? Nothing could be done about it now. She stood up with everyone else and headed out to the cafeteria.

To Lisa, the cafeteria was no better than the meeting room. It was worse, really. At least in the meeting room, she wasn’t expected to be some kind of social butterfly. In the cafeteria, where she often sat alone, she felt like the proverbial sore thumb, or worse, like part of the furniture, totally ignored and unnoticed.

Lisa had tried to be friends with her cohorts. She really did, but she had never seemed to be able to pull it off. It’s just that what worked elsewhere with other people didn’t work here. No one was interested in what she was interested in, and she found what they were interested in to be rather dull. She didn’t understand how she ended up in this place.

Lisa looked around the cafeteria. Everyone was chatting and laughing. She felt so alone. She found herself longing to be back in the meeting room, although less than an hour ago, she was fidgeting and wanted to get out. What she really wanted to do was go home. That was the one place where she felt at ease and could be herself.

When lunch was over, it was time to go back to the meeting room.  As she entered the meeting room, Lisa forgot about the loneliness of the cafeteria and her anxiety kicked in again. Surely she’d be presenting her ideas now. Would she see the familiar smirks? Would she hear the familiar giggles? She had felt so good about her presentation last night, but now she was dreading the moment she would have to talk about her ideas. No one ever seemed know what she was talking about. And if she were honest, she’d have to admit that she thought the others often sounded like children.

“Lisa,” the boss called out her name. “What do you have for us today?”

“Oh, uh…”

Lisa had been daydreaming. Again. She heard the inevitable stifled giggles as she collected her thoughts and presented her ideas to the others. She talked longer than the others had. She knew her stuff and provided plenty of detail. So why weren’t the others paying attention? Holding back the tears that were threatening, Lisa looked at the boss for support, hoping to see a sign of approval. She used to be sure of that approval, but not any more. This time, though, was one of the good times. The boss smiled.

“Excellent job, Lisa,” the boss said.

“Thank you,” Lisa mumbled, and then quickly stuffed her papers back into the folder she had been storing them in.

“Lisa? Can I have those papers please?” said the boss.

“Oh…okay. Sorry. I forgot.” Lisa had been so relieved that she had forgotten that they all needed to give the boss their reports so that she could go over them more carefully. Lisa wondered, and not for the first time, what was wrong with her.

The meeting seemed to have lasted all afternoon. After a couple more hours of work, the day was finally over and she could go home. She made her way out the door and to the bus stop, where she waited for the bus that would take take her to the comfort of her family.

Before long, the bus dropped her off at her stop and she walked to short distance to her house. As she opened the door, she called out, “I’m home!”

“Hi there,” said Lisa’s mother. “How was school today?”

You see, Lisa is just 8-years-old and is in the third grade. She is a highly gifted little girl whose classmates don’t understand her. She feels alone and often feels that something is wrong with her because she knows she is not like the other kids in her classroom. Her teacher, the boss, tries to understand her, but often sees her as a fidgety child who has socialization problems.

What did you think as you read Lisa’s story? Did you think about what you would do? What ideas did you come up with? Would those ideas work for an 8-year-old in school? Did your thinking changed when you realized that Lisa was a young child at school? While you may have been able to relate to Lisa’s feelings when you thought she was a grown woman, could you still relate when you learned she was just a child?

Most people can related to how Lisa was feeling because most of us have felt the same way at some time or another. But those same people have a hard time understanding how gifted children feel when they are in an environment that meets neither their intellectual nor their social and emotional needs. They feel like Lisa.

Carol BainbridgeAbout GiftednessSocial Emotional Issuesfeeling different,Socialization
Lisa looked around the room. Everyone seemed so busy. What were they doing? She was sure the boss had said to come prepared. She was ready. Or was she? Had she missed something? Vicky was busy writing. Tim was searching for something in a book. Maybe she should ask...