I’m so (over)excited! May 15, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in education, gifted, societal commentary.
Tags: adulthood, overexcitabilities, social skills, socialization
I’m not sure why, but whenever I hear the word “intense”, I think of some hippie smoking pot and saying something like, “Whoa, that’s like, so intense, dude!” The problem with this image is that it’s exactly the opposite of what I should be thinking of. What I really think I should be thinking of is…me…on a normal day.
I’ve read a lot about Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities as they apply to children. It had never occurred to me to think about what they would mean in terms of being an adult or myself in particular. I see so much of it in terms of education and children, but little in terms of how it affects adults. On the other hand, if you have these overexcitabilities (OEs), they don’t just go away when you become an adult…at least in my experience.
I’ve started realizing that having OEs means a couple different things, most of which is generally explained in Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration. That is, you have to deal with a lot of psychological upheaval and you constantly question things. You try to change your way of thinking about things to create some sort of internal consistency which then decreases the amount of internal discord you’re dealing with. So you deal with problems and come out a different person on the other side.
Going through the process changes how you look at things and interact with the world, and this is where it starts to get problematic. First, the vast majority of people don’t ever go through the process or, if they do, they end up ‘reintegrating’ back at the lowest level. This level is generally where your behavior is either average social behavior (conforming) or psychopathic (completely self-indulgent). Ignoring the latter, we can say that the average person, having generally been comfortable going along with society’s rules, ends up being very uncomfortable around someone who has rejected some or all of society’s rules for their own internal validation system.
In other words, when you interact with a ‘normal’ person, you’re going to come across as weird.
Adults who have OEs, like kids, are going to come across as having intense personalities. Maybe they’ll be really good at being laid back and letting things go, possibly as a result of the whole positive integration process. But what if they don’t? I can imagine that people with these OEs may not be able to keep their interests, passions, opinions, or intelligence under wraps. In fact, it’s likely they may feel it’s unnecessary to do so because they reject the notion of social conformity as a good thing.
As an adult, I’m much happier because I generally have a choice in whom I can hang out with and how I spend my time. I also feel like I’ve been able to find like-minded individuals who are open to being ‘weird’. However, I’ve also learned that it doesn’t mean being an adult will be super easy. In addition to all of the normal adult stresses in life, interacting with diverse people has become a major issue. Someone who feels strongly about anything and refuses to shut up in an effort to conform is going to find themselves upsetting others, even if inadvertently. And having the internet as a soap box means you’re more likely to get someone riled up. On the other hand, it’s also a great way to find people who aren’t put off by your lack of social mores.