Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Gifted Adults: Finding Your Tribe

My family spent this past weekend in a hotel 5 hours from home. We joined attendees from a dozen states across the U.S. and two Canadian provinces. The conference we attended was for Gifted families, in particular those who self-identify as "highly or profoundly gifted." The theme this year was "Tribe." Adults and kids, parents and elders to tots of only a few months of age, spending the weekend together, learning about new and old topics in giftedness, but mostly just spending the time Together.

The keynote was P. Sue Jackson from the Diamon Institute. During various sessions Sue talked to us about Profoundly Gifted kids and young adults, and we watched her movie, Rise: The Extraordinary Journey of the Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted Child. The most important message I took from the movie was, it's OK to be a profoundly gifted person, no matter what that looks like.  The kids in the movie were all lucky; they had supportive parents and other adult relatives. They were appreciated. They found ways to be themselves, even if it wasn't easy to do so. Even when who they are wasn't appreciated by the traditional people around them: peers, teachers.

Mostly, all the sessions talked about Tribe, about belonging, about finding your tribe, and helping your kids find their tribe.  About how it's not enough just to have acquaintances, but we all need true friends, those who truly "get" us. How to create tribe spaces in public that will encourage tribe to come to us.  How to find existing tribes through online and real life interest groups, from chess to geocaching, video games to libraries. And mostly, how to find and keep that "tribe" for more than one or two weekends a year, at this Beyond IQ conference, at the PG Retreat, perhaps at a three-week CTY session each summer.

My kids thrived as they do every year in the Young Adult program at Beyond IQ. A bunch of kids from the earliest teens to the 20-something without kids, this group offers discussion, and even play.  Topics might range from underachievement to existence, mindfulness to writing your own user's manual.  Whatever is discussed, the Young Adults enjoy their time together.

Why is this Togetherness, this Tribe so important to the gifted individual, child or adult?

Brené Brown says in her TED Talk Finding our way to true belonging,
"True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are." 
We need each other; we need to belong. But so many of us find that, in day to day life, that belonging only comes at the cost of adjusting who we are. We need to find a place where we can be ourselves, and not worry about being unacceptable, being kicked out of the tribe. 

That is the Tribe we need to find.

I'm grateful to have had decades of Beyond IQ conference for my family to spend with their Tribe. I'm grateful that my eldest found belonging in CTY Summer Programs, so much so that after 6 years of participation she now teaches, helping younger kids find their tribe through their interest in spending three weeks of the summer learning Inductive and Deductive Reasoning.

How and where do you find your Tribe?

This blog is part of the Hoagies' Gifted Blog Hop: Gifted Adults.  Click for more blogs on Gifted Adults!


  1. I've been curious about the Beyond IQ conference. Sounds like a great place to find like minds!

  2. Finding a tribe, a source of connection is so critical - for children, teens and adults. Gifted kids learn early on that it is hard to find like-minded peers, and that continues into adulthood. It's a neverending journey to find people who are the right fit!

  3. As the parent of three gifted children, I organized a parent support group and created enrichment weekends which benefitted all of the children in the small town. It means so much to find others with similar background.