How Can You Tell If You’re a Gifted Adult?

How do you know for sure that you’re a gifted adult? Well, the simple answer is…maybe you don’t. But in the end, does it really matter?

Giftedness in the educational system is determined predominantly through the use of IQ tests. And for the most part, as an adult you’re probably not rushing off to get an official one done just to see what your IQ might happen to be today. So then what can you do to decide if you can call yourself gifted?

Being a gifted adult means having a set of characteristics that are basically unique to you and others like you. Many people may have some of the characteristics on the gifted list, but they likely don’t have many of them unless they’re really gifted.

(If you’d like to give yourself a quick giftedness test based not upon IQ but upon features, you can find one here.)

But the funny thing is, if you call yourself gifted or if you don’t, the way you actually experience the world will not change. The way you feel when you interact with others will not change. The burning desire you have to make a difference in the world somehow will not change. Your sensitivities, emotions, perceptions and insights will not change.

The only difference between recognizing that you’re gifted and pushing the term aside is your willingness to use the skills, talents and abilities that make you a gifted adult. If you don’t call yourself gifted, then on some level you’re denying yourself the full opportunity of exploring everything that means. And if you do adopt the term, you’ll find step by step, moment by moment, that your life will begin to open up for you, if you allow it to.

One of the biggest secrets to being successfully gifted is to find other people like yourself and spend time with them. Whether they be in your family, in your neighbourhood, or online, connecting with others who think, learn and experience in ways similar to your own will allow you to begin expressing yourself in the fullest way, without feeling like you have to censor or edit your thoughts and words every time.

So in the end, how can you tell absolutely that you’re a gifted adult? Find others like you who have already become comfortable with the term and spend some time with them. The feeling of freedom that envelops you when you share their company will let you know you’ve found your way home.

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  • Henry Kestler

    I think gifted people are sometimes hard to relate to. Being honest with myself I know I am gifted in a lot of areas and I think some people can see it in others and it scares them.

    When I was in College hardly anyone would want to work with me. I tried asking several classmates if they wished to join me, or if I could join their group but no one would let me so I was forced to work on my own. Then of course one person DID want to work with me who thought they could get a free ride and not do any work and shortly found out I do not put up with bs.

    I also think a lot of gifted people lack some skills in other areas, such as mathematics. Doesn’t mean they aren’t gifted, lots of famous geniuses had problems learning certain things/subjects, but I do find it interesting.

    I do think that it has to do with your brain and how you condition it to learn. I myself was born with my entire left side damaged, including my brain. Although it does affect a lot of things in my life, including motor skills and speech, it forces me to use more of my right brain and to think more creatively. Marshall McLuhan studied the brain and a lot of people thought (and some still do) think he was crazy. Like I said earlier, some people are afraid of what they don’t understand.

    Schooling when we are young IMO affects this. I attended private school for 2 years where there was no set curriculum as found in most public schools. The freedom to learn in this environment, depending upon the teacher, can be quite amazing.

    If you read the early Sherlock Holmes books, Sherlock explains to Watson his methods and how normal everyday people can learn to train yourself to think/visualize a certain way. It’s all a matter if you want to do it or not.

    Thanks for listening and maybe all the others like me who know what I’m talking about/writing about…feel free to respond, comment on this or just smile and nod to what I’m saying.

    Henry Kestler

    • giftedforlife

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, Henry.  So much of what you have said here rings true for many gifted people around the world.  I’m glad you’ve shed some light on a situation that others may yet still be in the dark about.

      One of the challenges we face as gifted people is exactly what you’ve mentioned here –   the idea that if we’re gifted it means we must be good at everything.  That just isn’t possible.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses, no matter who we are or where we come from.  We can learn to improve ourselves in different ways, but at some things we’ll always be better than others.  Knowing this is OK provides a sense of relief to those who battle with perfection in many areas of their lives.

      I was actually in attendance at a gifted conference today and the idea of talent and creativity as a potentially focused (as opposed to broad) application to real life was discussed.  In simple terms, they reinforced the idea that we just aren’t amazing at everything we do.

      As part of less than 5% of the population, it’s easy to stand out and be misunderstood by others.  Hopefully we can all do the best we can in the situations we face, and keep moving forward in the most productive ways in our lives. 

      Thanks again.

    • Kay Slimani

      Hi ! I really like what you said here, it is by far very agreeable to what gifted young adults like me experience in college system. I mean, I hardly have people wanting to work with me(I secretly like that since I hate the pace their processing of ideas takes them) -or- they drag along with me, so I do everything without them interfering at all. Sometimes, I  pretend that I didnt notice but for serious projects I do refuse the bias. 
      Personally, I have hard time to connect to people in the level where I do not need to censor/edit my thoughts. .. So most of the time, I am in this personal stress to stay “normal” and come up with ” normal” issues to be discussed ( if I engage at all).
      I was also misdiagnosed as bipolar, due to my intensity in observing, reacting, talking… anyways… 

      As you have said, not all gifted people are skillful in Mathematics at an early age. I am one of them, “however” gifted ones CAN crush course mathematics and EXCEL with no struggles “IF” they Chose to !
       I believe in this totally, because I challenged myself to be admitted to a course where Mathematics is of high importance ~engineering~… Guess.. what… despite my weakness in math for the whole tertiary education, I pulled it off 😀
      After…….. Failing my 1st mathematics course… ( that woke me up!)
      I hope someone can relate to what I am saying…. 
      I hardly talk about these things !
      adios !!!!

      • Hannah Clarke

        I’m a bit late to the party, but I had to comment! I’m a 28 year old woman I have only just found out I am gifted. I was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and to be frank, I’m pissed. I’m spent the majority of my life struggling socially and psychologically to adjust and just had an acute sense that I was out of sync somehow or alien. What the mental health system has put me through is appalling. It pains me to think about how many others are out there believing they are mentally ill when the opposite is true. I completely relate to the weakness in mathematics. For me I have difficulty adding or subtracting in my head, but my ability to grasp mathematical logic is sound. I think I have found my people lol

        • Henry Tarot

          I know what you mean Hannah. I feel like for whatever reason a lot of gifted people seem to have some sort of disorder whether it be bipolar or dyslexia etc…

          I think a lot of people who are gifted if you don’t challenge yourself intellectually can become very borded bored with life. I recently got back into Kubrick films and many people believe he was gifted.

          Another such person I’m fairly positive was gifted was Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll. Yet he had a terrible stutter but through my research as of late on his novels of Alice In Wonderland he was a genius!

          I could go on in regards to famous gifted people but my point is try to somehow challenge your mind to keep yourself happy, I know this might sound pretentious but I find normal conversations people have just doesn’t do it for me and would rather stay silent than fill the air with useless conversation. I highly recommend looking into the work of Alan Watts, his ideas are extremely interesting.

  • justpassingby

    I have read in the internet that undiagnosed gifted adults usually display subtle signs of giftedness at a very young age. I have here a short  list of early achievements as claimed by the parents and I’m happy to hear your opinions if you think this “adult” qualifies to be called gifted. This person was born prematurely and was very sick growing up but surprises came when at 2 months was able to say mama, at 4 months would turn powder bottles into right position if parents turned it upside down, at six months could speak in complete sentences like “can i eat now mom?”, started walking at 8 months, could remember things seen for the first time, before 1 year was able to hold pencils and draw pretty well, could compose songs, would debate with adults (sometimes adult would lose and became bitter) but setbacks were poor short term memory, inattentiveness, have a hard time in memorization and has poor math computation skills. During teen years was heavily bullied, scrutinized by both peers and teachers, always detached from reality, questions life’s purpose and ethical issues, labeled as weird and avoided by most people so that person grew up with very low self-esteem and would think about self as stupid and useless. Overall turning into your average adult. So do you think this adult is gifted or just plain average?

    • Henry Kestler


      I think this person may have been gifted. I myself had a VERY similar experience growing up with little to no friends and would often get bullied and physical fights with students.

      Even a lot of teachers were afraid of me and even turned against me for no reason. It wasn’t until High School that I actually started to have a better experience.

      Anyway, yes, I know how you feel as I almost committed suicide at age 8 because they thought I was the problem.

      I think labeling people ‘gifted’ or not is also kinda bad. I think everyone, mostly teachers who know bleep all when it comes to behavior problems like to label people with ADD and other such nonsense.

      I think as bad as this sounds, finding yourself and moving on with your past comes from within you and not by going to a psychiatrist because methods most shrinks suggest may sound nice on paper but don’t really work in the real world.

      Last point is everyone has something unique to offer the world, it’s just a matter if that person wishes to do so, and/or how they want to live their life.

      – Henry Kestler

      • Kay Slimani

        Same here! 
        My childhood was like this: (I hope you guys relate to it): (age 5 to 7)
        1)Books in Shelves ~ About psychology/Sciences and Languages..
        2)Since I am a Girl, I had dolls but I used to design their clothes, so My not-so-3)used clothings ended up as little pieces of experimentations
        4)I stay in the bathroom longer because I ended up day dreaming or thinking of an idea and I cant seem to stop. (until mom knocks the toilet door)
        5) My favourite card game was trivia game in French
        6) I made my own rules in Chess (since Im always alone)
        7) Friends  suddenly disappear
        8) experimented flying and the concept of no gravity
        9) can act, dance, sing, draw … ( i was in kindergarten still and CANT forget my classmates faces… O.o very odd!)

        10) When At home I enjoyed solitude … and not to be disturbed
        11) when Watching a movie with mom, I m always so curious 
        and play the movie over with different ending and track the climax that could result in such ending ( i know im wierd )
        12) I refuse to have low grades… it was wierd, i would cry out of vain if i have 9/10 … ( i still cry if i have 60/100 haha -)
         13) I usually love to converse with adults, in serious matters that i saw in tv… 
        or i read … 
        anyways…. Im tired typing lol….
        what do u think guys…

        Do you Relate with anything I wrote here?? 🙂 

        • kae tiangco

          Omg! Im almost the same!
          Apart from the dolls (i hated dolls)
          In the bathroom i dont stay longer than anyone cos i day dream… Its cos i sing a lot. Lol although i do day dream most times. But its when im out in public. I hate it
          I do have your #1 plus history and martial arts hahaha i love ancients~
          My favourite game when i was young is odd i cant remember having one :))
          And yes my friends do suddenly disappear. Few stays. And now i have trust issues.
          I love being alone at times when im thinking but i dont like being out of place… Like everyone was talking to each other apart from me… But then, now i understand that i am not alone in this.. Which somehow gave me hope.. Sort of.. Finding someone who can accept me and understand me even if i go crazy.
          I experiment with things. I dont have the courage to stand with what my gut is telling me though cos i guess my environment was controlling… Even now that im 21. Why do asians gotta be like that.
          I dont like working in groups when one is controlling because i have this attitude that i let that controlling one to have a taste of her own bs. I dont share my thoughts, i dont show up in meetings, i play a really rebellious role when im in a group lol
          I have the same talents too. Lol apart from acting. I hated acting. I used to compose my own songs too.
          When i dont get a grade up to my standards, i get upset. My friends would be like, thats already high! Whats wrong with you? And i’ll be like (to myself) you just dont know how my brain would wanna burst right now… Or something..
          When i make mistakes, or something isnt right, i get terrible headaches. I learn to cope with it by crying… Alone though. But when im out in public, i try to control it by thinking of something funny or something about experiments cos ive been doing this coping mechanism since i was young. I still cant do a good job of controlling my tears. once someone tries to interact with me while stopping it, i just burst… So my close friends know what to do everytime im like this. Lol they know that i cant be approached when i look like im really thinking deep.
          I love conversing with adults too! Like learning about the economy, listening to their opinions about this and that… Maybe thats something why i couldnt relate to young adult my age… They talk about shopping, relationships, gossips. I just cant even if i try to, i always run out of topic.
          I love figuring out things myself, although there are times i do mess up but thats how it is.
          When i was 13 i was assessed which class to take for french class. Advance or beginners… Aparently, i fit more in advance class.
          Most teachers hate me cos maybe i am someone that could make their day bad. I think most people think im not a friendly type of person but really, i wanted to know everyone! I just dont know how to start my weird conversations with them! Cos i actually tried and got rejected. Couple times already. The first ever was when i was 7. Bf left me cos i guess i wasnt true to myself tho that was my fault.. But when i did show my true self, friends started to stay away from me… Oh well.

        • Pacifica

          As of now I am only 16, but I can tell you that I do relate with most of what you wrote! 🙂
          1) I really love books with more complex, different stories and themes, especially the ones written by scientists to show and explain their theories (like a book on what could have caused the big bang, if it makes sense).
          2) I had dolls, but I sometimes made them cross-dress (I’m not even kidding!) or I would cut them up to make accessories and new clothes.
          4) I don’t spend much time in the restroom for I constantly feel awkward (I have no idea why…) but I do spend a lot of time in the shower reflecting on and questioning everything.
          5) I have always liked Scrabble and Connect Four, as well as checkers, any game that makes your mind work, though I have never really been into dance games or the likes.
          7) I had to move a lot since I was born, and I feel better when I’m alone, I never really fit in with the others, but I still try to keep in touch with my friends.
          8) There are many things that I wish I could experiment on/about, but I don’t for safety reasons, because I don’t have the materials, and because my parents don’t allow me to do so.
          9) same talents, and I never forget a song, and often remember even small events and details that no one else noticed…(it’s strange indeed…)
          11) I do the same, but I also love to play the movie with me inside, or replacing the characters by others, it’s really fun!
          13) I sometimes have “conversations” in my mind (yeah, crazy…0__0) about complex things I read/watch/learn.
          Extra: I hate texting, and I don’t like to work in groups, for I sometimes feel like the answers are obvious or others don’t work or not fast enough, and I am too shy or annoyed to talk about it or to them…..
          In the end, I feel like my each part of my brain works a different way, so never really be sure of anything and I don’t often know what I want since I’m fine with a lot of things.
          That’s it for my ranting, I would type other things, but it would go on and on……

  • Brandon

    Justpassingby has a good point: Yes, his acquaintance is probably gifted, but being an average adult in terms of social success seems so contradictory.

    I think of myself as a Gifted Adult. However there are others that think Gifted Adults do not exist. By the time gifted children become adults they should have become accomplished adults or lose the “gifted” adjective.
    The thing is: How to achieve, if not a social sense of accomplishment, at least a personal one?  Is it acceptable to be “hard to relate to” and experience the implied isolation? I don’t know. I most certainly hope there are other ways. I just haven’t found them yet.

    Talking to other gifted people helps. I am very fortunate to be married to a gifted woman. But, as she has a completely different personality, it does not solve my biggest issues. For me understanding means: being responsible. If you see an issue, and if you are the only one to spot it, than you are the only one who can fix it and therefor you are responsible. Silly line of reasoning. But there you have it: I cannot stop myself.

    And yes, people are scared of the gifted. Not because of the giftedness itself but of the way it is used. The gifted more often than not use their wits to challenge life’s fundamental premises. Those that feel comfortable in the safety of the majority, typically do not like having their certainties taken away from them. Perhaps rightly so.

    Sure hope I can find some wisdom in some of the forums to help me sort these personal issues!


  • The Wizard

    I have never thought myself gifted, just different. I have been “successful” in my field, but find that I’m either shunned or sought depending on the current need. I challenge the norm, I’m uncertain why the powers that be continue to do things that ultimately will fail and they don’t see it – they don’t want to hear. I know that I’m considered a pain in the rump, however being very successful, my position is secure. I have taken the business I run to levels the company never dreamed it would go (I’m not bragging, but trying to explain) yet I’m never recognized for my teams accomplishments yet ridiculed for the minor things that they perceive as important. I say that if you work from the bottom up your top will not collapse under pressure, a stron foundation is the answer to everything. I know things about people that I shouldn’t know. Some people are very open in their essence and I can feel and know things – have asked several of my young ladies about pregnancy before they knew or had it verified – kind of hard to explain. I’m goin at going in finding the wproblem, fixing it, setting it for success and then I need to walk away. I have taken my place of business to the highest level of achievement possible and now I ask what’s next, maintain – I’m not very good at that. I find I’m very black and white, very little time or energy for gray, be the best or don’t bother. I’m often frustrated by folks that refuse to tap their potential – don’t they see it or don’t they care?? My doctor says its hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by chickens…. So am I crazy? (Please don’t answer that if you think I am – lol)…