Some of you—I suspect a lot of you—are blocked creatives. I would wager that some of you are even highly gifted creatives. “Well, that can’t be me,” you’re saying to yourself. “If it were, I would have shown some evidence of it by now. Sure, I like music/writing/painting/acting/whatever else, but I’m not actually very creative. If I were, I would know. I would have done something tangible by now.”
Not true. So unbelieveably, incredibly not true. What’s far more likely is that you went through school as a gifted kid, but never were recognized or encouraged in the arts. Or, you actually got messages all through your childhood that creativity was scary, unpredictable, and not going to get you anywhere.
What you really are is an unrecognized gifted adult. There are a lot of you out there, especially if you’re a Boomer or older Gen Xer. Those folks went to school before gifted and talented identification programs at school really took off. While everyone knew they were academically smart, gifted kids often didn’t receive any kind of specialized, targeted help in developing their abilities. (Hint: AP classes are not the same as a gifted/talented program.)
It’s a myth, as every book I’ve read on giftedness points out, that gifted kids will figure it all out and don’t need much help. We would never say or think this about talented athletes, would we? We think those gifted people need lots of coaching, lessons, mentoring, practice time, and working with peers of equal and greater talent to really develop their gift. We wouldn’t expect any athlete to make the Olympics without lots and lots of special training.
Yet somehow even today, the expectation often is that if you’re gifted, you’ve got it made without needing much extra help. Coupla’ lessons and you’re good, right? Um, nope.
Another thing that happens with academically gifted kids is that their other gifts–usually there ARE other gifts that run with the academic gifts–are often ignored, because they aren’t perceived with the same respect as academics. An academically gifted painter, for example, might receive all kinds of praise and encouragement for talents in language arts—read, English—but little or nothing is done to grow that painter artistically.
So the painter inside the child withers from neglect. Yet quite possibly the painting gift is the greater of that child’s gifts. Not all artistically gifted kids are determined enough to persist in the face of school, peer and parental discouragement. In fact, many, maybe most aren’t. Especially when they’re getting so much praise for good grades.
So what does this have to do with lawyers and career change? You probably already know. If you had interests as a young child that really excited you, but now you don’t have any of them in your life, you might want to explore whether academics choked off your other, more intrinsically rewarding gifts. There are many, many kids who were smart but had their artistic passion conformed out of them by age 13 or 18 or 21, and ended up at law school because they got A’s and had lost touch with what really turned them on. Except maybe the external gratification of praise from stellar grades. Would that, by chance, be you?
Next time, I’ll talk about some specific types of giftedness that often get overlooked, plus focus on unique issues that gifted adults face.
Oh, and in case you want to start reading up on giftedness, here are a few good places to start:
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who coaches attorneys on finding and pursuing their gifts, whether it gets them an “A” in lunch or not. Think you might have some gifts to explore? You can book a free half-hour sample coaching session and do just that. Contact Jennifer at jalvey AT jenniferalvey.com.