Open Letter to a “Gifted” Teen

Dear “gifted” teen, 

I put the word gifted in quotes because… you may not like it. Most adults still don’t fully agree on what it means. You don’t like the word, and perhaps it doesn’t resonate with how you see yourself. Or maybe it does. It doesn’t matter. 

What’s important is that you know that we are all living in a time where young adults know so many things that the adults don’t quite understand yet. Probably your parents, and even your teachers. 

Maybe your parents are stressed about your plans for college, and so you are too. Maybe none of this, in some way, makes any sense to you. Maybe all you want to do is skip class and drive around with friends and then come home and start a business that you have an idea for. Or learn more about a very specific topic such as microbiology or psychology…. Or whatever! 

Please, know that you are not alone. I hear this from others as well. And even within these “others”, I see so many different struggles. If I put you all into a room together, you may not recognize it right away, but after talking for a bit, you might recognize something similar or familiar.  I can’t put you in a room, but when you find someone who seems familiar, please feel free to mention something unusual that you struggle with. See if there is a glimmer of recognition. If not, move on. If so, talk about it. Laugh about it. Stay in touch if that feels right. Even if you come from very different worlds. Even if they are 80 and you are 16. Maybe they are a jock and you are a theater type.  

We are living in a time when, just like those videos and pictures of animals who would be unlikely friends (like a deer and a dog), are hanging out together, so are we. We need to have faith in who we are, as weird or strange as that may seem, and it helps to connect with others like us. Sometimes they are not wearing a similar outfit. 

Fight to do what you are interested in. If you like physics, and your school’s physics is boring, know that you still get to like physics. Watch YouTube videos about it until you find something better. Fight for a better school. If your parents have the resources, look for an alternative school that is a better fit, or for alternatives to school. Pass the high school exam and take college classes. Find a mentor and start your business now. Get a job and start saving money for your dream. Start putting into action a plan that goes with what is important to you. The adults won’t fully understand, but they will love your initiative. We all get depressed. Especially in these times. But having a goal, even if it is to hang in there through high school so you can go to college and finally study what you want, can help lift the depression. Know that you are not alone. There are many others out there. I know. I’ve talked with them. They don’t like the word “gifted” either. It doesn’t matter. Maybe the word is more for the adults to understand. Keep moving towards what you believe in. Keep the faith in your self and in the world. 

(mother, therapist, gifted coach, friend, human)

©2019 Teresa Currivan

Teresa Currivan is a mother, licensed marriage and family therapist, Headshotcroppedcoach and consultant for individuals and parents at Help My Child Thrive Coaching. She runs parent support groups both privately, and for Big Minds Unschool, a school for twice-exceptional learners in Pinole, CA. Teresa has been published on sites such as, Filter Free Parents, and is a blogger at GHF and Hoagies Gifted Education. She specializes in giftedness, twice-exceptionality,  educational fit, and family dynamics. She lives in the San Francisco, California Bay Area with her husband and son. You can find more articles on Follow her on Facebook at ***Teresa also talks to teens and their parents. She offers free 20 minute consultations. Email her to set up a time to talk. She’s here to help. ***

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