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Embracing Intensity

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Jan 16, 2023

Exploring Gifted Kid Burnout

Gifted kid burnout affects many smart kids and former gifted students who were once in gifted programs. As young adults, they often share a common theme of feeling burnt out and struggling with unrealistic expectations. The pressure to always achieve gold star grades and be at the top of the class can be overwhelming.

Gifted programs, often found in grade schools and even at the national level, focus on high achievement and a fixed trait of being "gifted." But what happens when these young adults, who were once in gifted classes and AP classes, are faced with the reality of adult life and the expectations of society? They may struggle with a lack of motivation and a harmful perfectionism that can lead to chronic stress.

This phenomenon, known as "gifted kid burnout," was first identified by Professor Carol Dweck, author of "Mindsets," and has been studied by the National Association for Gifted Children. It is a result of the fixed trait mindset that is often placed on gifted children, believing that their intelligence and abilities are innate and cannot be improved upon. This belief leads to unrealistic expectations and a lack of emphasis on the development of a growth mindset and good study habits.

Manifestation of Gifted Kid Burnout

This burnout can manifest in a variety of ways, such as a lack of motivation, harmful perfectionism, and chronic stress. For twice exceptional adults, who also have a neurodivergent condition, the experience can be even more challenging as they may have unique sources of stress in their daily lives and emotional needs.

School systems and the current educational environment may contribute to this issue. Gifted education programs and advanced classes may not always take into account the social-emotional needs and unique sources of stress for these students. This can lead to lack of study habits and a type of mindset that is not sustainable in the long-term, resulting in burnout.

About Cate

Our guest today is Cate Osburn, also known as Catieosaurus on social media. She is an ADHD educator, a certified sex educator, and a disability advocate. Cate will share her personal experience with burnout as a twice exceptional adult and discuss her journey to finding balance and harmony in her passions and interests. Cate will also talk about how her experience in a gifted program, advanced classes, and the pressure to achieve good results in school led to unhealthy coping mechanisms and a lack of motivation in her daily life. We hope that her story will be a first step in understanding the experience of gifted kid burnout and the unique challenges faced by twice exceptional adults.

In this episode:

  • Cate Osborne, also known as Catieosaurus, is an ADHD educator and advocate, as well as a disability advocate who focuses on the connection between neurodiversity and sex and intimacy in relationships.
  • Cate splits her time evenly between her interests in ADHD and inclusivity in tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, making a career out of connecting seemingly unrelated things that overlap or are related.
  • Cate's personal brand of intensity results in burnout and struggles with balancing intensity of passion as a full-time content creator discussing serious topics like mental health, sex, and intimacy.
  • Cate's struggle with intensity is heightened as a neurodivergent person with ADHD and recently diagnosed with autism, and Difficulty in achieving balance is a myth, instead it's about finding harmony.
  • Cate's intensity in childhood was characterized by intense curiosity and ADHD contributed to an interest in trying new things and having different hobbies. Cate's hobbies can be valuable in learning and leading to change in one's life.
  • Cate started talking about the experience of being a gifted kid who is now burned out because of the pressure to always be the best.
  • Aurora and Cate discuss how giftedness is often associated with being successful, but it can also result in burnout.
  • Cate struggled with mixed messages about her self-worth and value as a gifted student growing up, and placed a lot of her self-worth in her academic success and being involved in activities and clubs.
  • Cate's tendencies switched over to unhealthy coping mechanisms like people pleasing and perfectionism once she left school and had to start "living a life."

* Transcript Available *

Resources:

Cate's Website

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