What’s My Story? What’s Yours?

20 Apr

Back in 2005 when NAGC was in Louisville, I did a presentation for the Counseling and Guidance Division called “Change Your Story, Change Your Life,” which I later turned into an article that was published in The Gifted Education Communicator that can be read here.  The NAGC session focused on helping gifted kids to cope with the difficulties they face in dealing with their asynchrony, their lack of easy fit in the culture of childhood, by helping them to see themselves as the heroes of their own story.  It was gratifyingly well received.  People seemed to find the principles underlying the talk fairly easy to accept. 

When I talked about these principles among a large group of other writers of books for kids, many of them found the metaphor of story as comfortable as I do, and suggested that I should expand the article into a book.  So, over time, I did that.  The book is now available three ways–as a free downloadable PDF here, and as an actual book or Kindle through Amazon, here. (In addition, I created a Facebook page called Storyhealer.) The book takes what I call Story Principle into the larger territory of human life in general, and I’m aware that lots of people will not feel comfortable following me that far. 

So I’m not suggesting that everybody who is interested in The Deep End because of their connection with high range giftedness will also be interested in either the book or the StoryHealer Facebook page.  I mention it because throughout most of the last 30 years I’ve worn two hats–the novelist hat and the gifted consultant hat, switching back and forth between what felt like two different personas–occasionally making the connection more obvious, such as when I wrote Welcome to the Ark and Flight of the Raven, whose characters were based on profoundly gifted children I had worked with in my gifted persona.  But as an elder, it has become important to me to blend those personas with the rest of who I’ve become in my own life journey in order to be my authentic self.

As I deal with the whole subject of giftedness now, I look at it (as I look at life) through the lens of Story Principle.  Simply put, Story Principle says that the stories we tell as individuals and as a society, are the stories we live.  So they matter.  I am no longer comfortable with our culture’s focus on competition and achievement for the sake of achievement.  Our cultural story has, for a very long time, been based on some stories we have accepted as reality that are now being challenged in fundamental ways.  One is a mechanistic view of a “clockwork universe” destined to wind down, or a random expansion of mindless matter destined to sink back on itself and collapse.  Another is a tale of evolution as a competetive struggle for survival in which species self-interest dominates and only the strongest survive.  But leading edge evolutionary science is telling a new story in which the central theme is not “nature red in tooth and claw,” but nature as an interconnected web of cooperation and balance.  Rather than a struggle to the death, the new story frames life as a kind of dance. 

When I asked a huge NAGC audience during my mini-keynote at NAGC 2006 to raise their hands if they believed that the way things were going on the earth right then was fine and good and right, not a single hand went up.  And most people would agree that things have gotten considerably “worse” since then.  I think we as humans on planet Earth need to refocus on values that can support ourselves and each other and the life that sustains us all.  And I think that many, perhaps the majority, of our brightest kids are a step ahead of us, or at the very least, have the wherewithal to move us in new directions if they can escape the me-first materialism and the fatalistic negativity of the culture that surrounds them.  Surveys are showing that most Americans think their best times are over and that the future will be worse than the present.  That is not a story we can afford to go on telling–it is not a story to share with our children!

Einstein famously said (the t-shirts prove it so!) that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  Our super bright children have amazing intellects and collect knowledge the way hoarders collect stuff.  But they have a power of imagination that all too often goes unappreciated, unsupported and untapped.  We can have nothing in our future that we cannot imagine.  Luckily, imagination has no limits.  So here’s one thing you can bet on about The Deep End.  The story told here will be one of possibility, of hope, and of radical trust that the children we are doing our best to support have what they need not just to survive as individuals, but to venture out to the leading edge of the web we’re all connected to and take us beyond our current expectations. 

So that’s my story.  If it’s yours, together we can share and embellish it here.  If yours is bleaker, darker, less hopeful, maybe you can begin–with a little help from your friends here–to change it.  That’s what is so wonderful about stories.  Once you know you’re involved in the telling, you know they can change. 

7 Responses to “What’s My Story? What’s Yours?”

  1. danastege May 20, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    I really enjoyed this post. I bookmarked the article for later. My son is in 1st grade and I’m pulling him out of public school after this year because he’s gifted and the school won’t even consider testing him. I’ve done the research. I’m an educator and I know my child. He knows he’s different. He told me the other day that he is an unusual first grader. When I asked him why, he said because he seems to be a lot smarter than the other kids. Yikes. He definitely has asynchronous issues–we have seen a lot of fits lately that remind us of the terrible twos. Someone recommended that we get him counseling because he’s gifted. I was wondering what your thoughts are about that? Thanks!

  2. Stef May 20, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    @Danastege. Counseling can be very helpful if you can find a counselor knowledgeable in gifted issues. What you don’t need is someone wanting to normalize your asynchronous son. If you can’t get recommendations from other parents of a gifted child, it’s important to interview the person you are considering.

  3. James T. Webb, Ph.D. May 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Stephanie, I am very much enjoying your thoughtful posts and the replies. Thank you for taking the lead on all of this.

    Best regards,

    Jim Webb

  4. Stef May 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Thanks, Jim. And thanks for creating SENG, whose ongoing effects on the world of gifted provide a vital balance to the achievement focus.

  5. alison kenyon June 13, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    i was hoping that there were going to be story after story shared. It seems to me from my experiences in public school that the schools don’t understand how destructive misunderstanding, lack of support or pure frustration/anger directed at gifted children can be. If we could get a good picture of the constant pain and depression our kids experience and what eitehr made it worse or better, that may be a good document to share with some school administrators. i know my princicipal is open to discussion and freely admits that the lack of knowledge and understanding of what gifed looks like has caused some very unfortunate outcomes for my son and others. our stories are a form of very real, very tangible education.

  6. begabungs August 12, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    I read this post and I enjoyed it. I like your blogs, dear Stephanie!
    Thank you for being a great inspiration for us in gifted community.
    Kind regards,
    Roya Klingner

    • Stef August 12, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

      Thanks, Roya!

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