In my Why Magnets Matter post, I talked a lot about how important they are for gifted kids’ social and emotional needs. Eventually I’ll get around to a post more in depth about those needs, but first, I’m going to relate a bit of personal experience in this area (and yes, as I’ve said before, I know that an anecdote doesn’t prove anything, but the evidence is already out there. I’m not aiming to prove, but hopefully instead to illuminate and persuade).
Over the last 5 months or so, I’ve seen first hand what it’s like when two very gifted kids meet and become friends. Well, you know how gifted kids (and really, it never goes away) are said to be “more?” Well, it’s absolutely true. So now imagine what that’s like when they find someone who they really think they can call a true friend, especially after being lonely for an awfully long time because they couldn’t (since even in very well off areas, highly gifted (as opposed to very smart) kids aren’t exactly common), and with all the extra melodrama teenagers bring to just about everything.
Essentially, it’s the first time they find someone who they really feel “gets” it. Sometimes very, very strongly, as in, having many of the same bad or painful memories. As in, having a conversation and suddenly realizing that the other isn’t either looking puzzled or worried for their mental health. As in, they can talk to someone as themselves and still not be thought of as weird. For a lot of gifted kids, that’s a new and, really, quite a powerful experience.
And it is “just” friendship. That’s the thing that I think is missed by many people. Friendship, for gifted kids, means a lot more (and is a lot stronger) than for most other people. Intensity isn’t limited to a narrow range of things. It’s part of how gifted people function. A gifted kid may have lots of “friends,” but most (I wouldn’t generalize it to all, but certainly a large portion) do not consider them to be their “true” friends. That means a lot more to everyone, but especially I think to the gifted.
It’s hard to put into words. If you’ve seen it happen, you know what I mean. I think this sort of thing, though, reveals the essence of giftedness much more than almost anything else. If you ever see it, take note, because you will learn something, and not necessarily what you would expect.