Having a High IQ
What is it Like to Have a High IQ?
Hint: It's not all that great, really.....
I recently found out that I have a very high IQ: high enough to qualify for Mensa, the international high IQ society. I am relieved. I am relieved because I have always felt "different" and actually thought that there might be something "wrong" with me.
Just because you have a high IQ, it does not mean that you will be rich or famous, or even happy. It does mean that you probably feel different than most other people. And, if there is no one else to help you to understand that and to guide you, you may feel confused and lonely. Yes, really!
Is an IQ Score a Valid Measure of Intelligence?
I so often see and hear this question. In my opinion, the strict answer is, "No." After all, what is intelligence?
According to my own experience, a person's IQ score indicates how they think and how they perceive the world around and within.
Testing for IQ Levels
I feel it's important to say up front that you cannot determine a valid IQ by taking an on line quiz. Testing for IQ is really quite complicated and involves many different sections. There are a few different validated IQ tests which are used. They consist of more than questions for you to answer and are administered in person, usually by a neuropsychologist or someone trained in this particular testing. You will be misinformed by taking one of the many tests or quizzes presented on line. Mensa is one legitimate group that offers this testing to the public.
Trying to Understand
My goal in writing this is to help people understand how it can feel to have a high IQ. I feel that it is very confusing to the general population. People think of it as "being smarter" and, therefore, being "better" in some way. This is not the case, as I will explain. I also want to help others who have found that they have a high IQ and are still trying to figure "it" all out. This will be an adventure and an exploration for me as I share with you what I am discovering that is true for me.
Here is a long phrase someone used recently to search for information on the web. Their search landed them here on this page. How very accurate this statement is!
"people with a high iq often find themselves a little lonely among people who just don't think in the same ways. people with high iq's are in no way better than others. they just think in different ways"
High IQ does NOT make you perfect, or even close
One thing I know is that your IQ is only part of who you are. It does not determine your wealth or your happiness. It does not make your life easier and it does present many challenges, especially if you don't know why you are different.
Many times in my life I have thought to myself, "I just want to be normal"! I felt so often unhappy, isolated and misunderstood. When you think differently than most of those around you, when you see the world through an alternate lens, when you "see" even more than meets the eye, and no one else can understand you, you FEEL less than normal. People don't relate to you. Some may even scorn or laugh at you. And, it can stop you in your tracks. If you do not know what is happening and why, your self esteem can suffer and you can become paralyzed. You can fail to move forward. You can give up.
This is why I want to help others who are also dealing with having a high IQ. When only 2% or less of the population can think the way that you do, you DO feel different and if you do not know why, it can be hard to find your way. It may be that the way you need to steer your "boat" is much different than the way most others do it. You may need a guide to help you learn to navigate effectively.
A Perfect Description of Having a High IQ
from the late author and philanthropist, Pearl Buck
"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.
Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create - - - so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating."
There is so Much Beauty in the World - I want to take it all in...
...roll it around in my mind, hold it, know it, understand it, relish in not understanding it, and....I want, so much, to help others see it, too.
Characteristics of Gifted Adults - From the Gifted & Creative Services of Australia
Here is a list of characteristics of gifted, or high-IQ adults. I definitely have felt and do experience everything on this list. You will see that it's about much more than "being smart". It is really more about being highly aware and able to easily see connections between ideas, events, people and on and on.
This list is from the Gifted & Creative Services of Australia, which offers information on the experience of being a gifted child or adult. Click on the link in the following section for expanded info from this group.
- perfectionistic and sets high standards for self and others
- has strong moral convictions
- feels outrage at moral breaches that others seem to take for granted
- is highly sensitive, perceptive or insightful
- is a good problem solver
- has unusual ideas or connects seemingly unrelated ideas
- thrives on challenge
- fascinated by words or an avid reader
- learns new things rapidly
- has a good long-term memory
- is very curious
- has an unusual sense of humor
- has a vivid and rich imagination
- feels overwhelmed by many interests and abilities
- loves ideas and ardent discussion
- can't switch off thinking
- is very compassionate
- has passionate, intense feelings
- has a great deal of energy
- feels driven by creativity
- needs periods of contemplation
- searches for answers in life
- feels out-of-sync or out-of-step with others
- feels a sense of alienation and loneliness
More High IQ Traits
The following are links to website pages which offer good lists of or comments on the personality characteristics and common life experiences of gifted adults, or people with a high IQ. I can identify with them all. Note how there are several I've already suspected and mentioned in regard to feeling lonely, misunderstood and isolated. I don't think most people realize that these are major issues for those of us who have a high IQ.
- Gifted & Creative Services of Austrailia
Click this link to read more about the list included in the section above.
- Gifted & Creative Adults
Here is the website of Lynne M. Azpeitia, M.A., a counselor from Santa Monica, CA who specializes in helping gifted adults.
- How Being Gifted Means Being Different
Oh my, this is a wonderful essay written by Rebecca Trotter back in 2008 on the site called Word Press. Here is a quote lifted from the essay, but please click on the link and read the entire piece. "This fundamental different-ness combined with a l
When and How Did I Learn of My High IQ?
Because I was having a bit of trouble with my memory, my doctor referred me to a specialist for psycho-neurological testing. The tests revealed that my memory was normal, however, we had to check my IQ because memory correlates to IQ. In other words, if you have a high IQ, your memory should be similarly high.
The testing revealed a very high IQ and indicated that I was, indeed, having problems with my memory, after all. My memory should have been above normal to correspond with my IQ. It also showed that I did not have any degenerative neurological illnesses. That was good news. And, through a process of elimination, it was determined that lack of sleep was the culprit in terms of memory issues.
I do remember my mother telling me, when I was in high school, that I had a high IQ, but I never heard any numbers and it never occurred to me that it might be something to pay attention to. In fact, I had forgotten all about it. Now I knew about my high IQ and I wondered what, at this point in my life, it might mean to me and what I could do with it.
Mensa International - A Resource for IQ Testing and more
Here is one of the sources for determining your IQ. Mensa, the well-known international high IQ society, offers their own IQ test which is administered, in person, by one of their representatives. Belonging to Mensa makes it easier to find and socialize with others who have a high IQ and offers you many other benefits, as well. The only qualifying guideline for membership is having an official IQ of 130 or higher.
- Mensa International
Click on this link to learn more about Mensa!
Is It Really Good to Be Gifted? - Unique challenges of the highly gifted
I can track what people who view this page have searched for in order to find it. Most of those searches have read as follows:
"children with high iq missing out on life"
"does high iq makes you feel less"
"very high iq problems"
Like me, it seems others have had a difficult time of it with their high IQ trait. Check out the article below.
Not So Great? David Palmer, PhD explains…
- Optimal IQ and the Flipside to Giftedness, by David Palmer Ph.D
This interesting site has quite an array of information about raising a gifted child, and this particular article helps to explain just how challenging it can be to be "gifted" with a high IQ.
The Gifted Adult by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen
Most of what I read in this book by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen confirms what I have been experiencing my whole life. For instance, being overwhelmed by lots of sound and activity is a common occurrence for me, but I hadn't realized that it might be due to having a high IQ. Now it makes sense. With a higher IQ, the book explains, you tend to have a greater sense of awareness and notice many more things than most people. What might be perceived as fun for the people you are with, can, instead, be overwhelming for you. At times like those, I felt like there was something wrong with me. It's great to have an explanation now.
There is, included in the book, a self-scored test which you can take to determine what some of your personal characteristics are. I do feel that the test is too simplistic and too dependent upon you being very self-aware and very honest with yourself, but that is minor.
The Gifted Adult is a great book and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Why So Sensitive? - It's All About a High Level of Awareness
Do you often ask yourself why you have to be so sensitive? Do you introvert yourself in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed or frustrated? Do people often tell you to just "get over it"? Being extra-sensitive goes hand-in-hand with having a high IQ. It can be very disorienting. Until you understand it better, it can be downright confusing. But, once you understand this as a trait, you can try to turn it into an advantage.
I can remember telling one of my bosses that, within the company, I was like the canary in a coal mine. I knew this was true. I would tend to be sensitive to and aware of a problem long before others. I wanted to help by sharing what I could so easily see. How presumptuous of me. She did not want to hear it. There were, indeed, big problems which finally surfaced and the business eventually had to be sold, but not before much discord and unhappiness ensued for everyone.
At least I understood what was going on and was able to keep things in perspective. And, I "got out" before the changes took place.
Here is some information to help you better understand this trait.
- Emotional intensity in Children with a High IQ
Here is an article by Lesley K. Sword, of Gifted & Creative Services in Australia, on one of the least-understood traits of people with a high IQ: hypersensitivity. This particular piece focuses on children, but it is true for adults, as well.
- Gifted Children: Emotionally Immature or Emotionally Intense?
Here is another article on the same subject and from the same person who wrote the one above. Each article has it's own merits.
Examples of how a child with a high IQ can feel
When I was about 7 or 8 years old, home alone with my mother and feeling bored, I decided to write some poetry. I remember that one of the poems was about a parrot. I wish I could read it now, but I destroyed it soon after I wrote it. I had shown it to my mother and she told me that I hadn't written it -- that I must have copied it from somewhere. I was bewildered and confused, feeling as if I had somehow done something wrong. It may sound odd that I would have that reaction, but I was young enough to not understand what was happening. I admired my mother and felt that I had disappointed her.
In 4th grade I made a 3-dimensional map of the US out of homemade play-doh-like clay for a class homework assignment. I carefully shaped all the states, including elevations, and added color. I worked very hard at it and had a great time doing it. I proudly took the map into class and my teacher failed me on the project. She told me that my mother must have made it for me and that I had cheated. I was very confused and I couldn't convince her otherwise. Even after my mother called her to complain, she still insisted that I couldn't have made it.
During classes in elementary school, when the teacher would ask the class a question, I always knew the answer, but was careful to not raise my hand. I didn't want to be different. Initially, I had felt that when no one else in class raised their hand, I must be wrong. If no one else knew, and if what I thought was the answer had come so easily and obviously to me, it must not be correct, but it always was. Eventually, I didn't want to draw attention to myself and I didn't want to get in trouble for always knowing the answers when none of my classmates did. Elementary school was very, very confusing for me.
Am I Good Enough, Smart Enough?
A confused and misunderstood mind can create a mental block which keeps you from achieving success.
- The Trouble With Bright Kids - Heidi Grant Halvorson - Harvard Business Review
For Harvard Business Review, Heidi Grant Halvorson cites research and writes about problems in self-esteem that can develop among the highly intelligent.
Helping Gifted Children
I feel that the best kind of person to recognize a high IQ child is a high IQ adult. When I see and recognize a child with what I can see as a high IQ, and I know that they have no one helping them cope with it, my heart breaks a little.
I was intrigued to find this school which caters to profoundly gifted young people.
- Davidson Academy of Nevada - Reno, Nevada
The Davidson Academy of Nevada is a free public school for profoundly gifted middle and high school students. Located at the University of Nevada, Reno, Davidson Academy students can develop their intellectual abilities at an appropriate level.
What You All Want to Know
...makes me feel sad
As I already mentioned, I am able to view the words people have typed into the search engines in order to find this page. They confirm what I have been experiencing in my life--that having a high IQ is not easy. Here are more of the phrases used in readers' search for information:
"Does having a high IQ make you lonely?"
"Feeling isolated with high IQ"
"High IQ feeling different"
"Does having a high IQ make it hard to have friends?"
"How to cope with high IQ"
"How to feel normal with High IQ"
"Help for high IQ feeling lonely"
"Hard to communicate because of high IQ"
"Gifted adults misunderstood isolated"
"High IQ guide to living well"
"I just found out I have a high IQ"
"Gifted adults lonely misunderstood"
"Higher IQ higher standards in love"
"Vivid imagination high IQ"
"Self esteem in adults and IQ"
Generally speaking, I find people will make jokes about my high IQ or feel threatened by it. Because of this, I hesitate to let others know about it. Most people have a preconceived idea about what it means to have a high IQ and it is nowhere near the truth. I hope that by writing this, there can be a greater understanding among those who read it. Please pass it on!!
Do You Know Your IQ?
Do you know your IQ number?
Depression & High IQ
Misunderstood, frequently bullied, judged harshly...I think that depression in those with a high IQ results, in large part, from social interaction. I've even been made fun of by my own "friends". Then, there are the boyfriends who broke up with me saying, "I'm not good enough, smart enough, clever enough (or some version of that) for you. You deserve more." Break my heart.
Then, if I deny "who" I am, I get depressed because I'm suppressing an important drive within myself.
Join me on my journey as I continue to learn more about myself and what having a high IQ is all about. Keep checking back for new material.
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Thanks For Reading
And, give us your take on high IQ, giftedness, or this lens.
© 2011 Nancy Graham