Sometimes I’m just tired. Tired of fighting, of always having to swim upstream. Tired of all the things that fright and thread me.
Over the course of my life I’ve always had problems fitting in. At school, at work. It always was a struggle. The only place I felt at home was in lutherie school, and even there I was the odd one out.
In work environments I always got into trouble. Often the work wasn’t challenging enough, and the days became like wading trough large seas of predictable boredom. Or getting problems with the managers. Many managers I’ve encountered disqualified themselves by proving to be empty vessels. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got respect for everyone, but authority is something one can gain or lose.
Three years ago I got a massive burn-out. The management of the factory decided that quantity had prevail over quality. Solutions I brought up to increase the quality and speed of the work weren’t heard or set aside, and I was told to shut up. My colleagues started bullying me. I became disillusioned and sarcastic. The work was the same task over and over again. To get a little bit of intellectual challenge I listened to university lectures on my Ipod. But the loud metal music my colleagues insisted on, even drowned out noise cancelling headphones on maximum volume.
“The pursuit of quality is also a matter of agency, the craftsman’s driving motive. But agency does not happen in a social or emotional vacuum, particularly good-quality work.
The desire to do something well is a personal litmus test; inadequate personal performance hurts in a different way than inequalities of inherited social position or the externals of wealth: it is about you. Agency is all to the good, but actively pursuing good work and finding you can’t do it corrodes one’s sense of self.”
Richard Sennett – “The Craftsman”
I dragged myself to work each day. It wore me out completely, because in the weekends I was too tired to do other things. I couldn’t sleep anymore and became anxious. In the end I had exceeded my limits so far that I blacked out. I remember standing at a workbench in the morning, and have a feeling like I got hit on the back of my head. The next thing I remember is that Sandra woke me up in the afternoon. Later one of my collaegues said I told him I didn’t feel well and went home. I can’t remember anything of travelling home (a 2,5 hour trip by two trains, one bus and bicycle). The next day we went to the doctor who diagnosed a burn-out. My response to this was “Well, that can’t be, I’m only 25…”
That’s almost four years ago. Over the last years I’ve had a lot of therapy and they tried to let me re-integrate in my old job. Later they tried outplacement, which also failed. Every time I get the least amount of pressure I completely disintegrate, and find myself back at square one.
It’s not that I like to be this way, or that I don’t try or haven’t tried. I do all the time, but I simply don’t fit in the straightjacket of the ‘normal’ 9-5 job. I would give an arm or leg just to ‘be normal’, to fit in, to be able to be that “well respected man”. And it’s not the case that I lack knowledge, skills or talents; it’s rather that I’ve got too many.
Over the last couple of years we found out that I have an IQ that’s higher than most people. It puts me in the category “gifted,” along with approximately 2% of the world population. You would think this makes life easier, but it doesn’t really. It feels like a curse, rather than a blessing.
There is a multitude of definitions of giftedness. A few years ago, a Dutch therapist/researcher wrote a new definition. Rather than hanging it up just by the IQ/prestation quota she defined giftedness as follows:
“A gifted person is a quick and smart thinker,
who can solve complex problems and tasks.
Autonomic, curious and driven by nature.
A sensitive and emotional person, living very intense.
He or she finds joy in creating.”
– Maud van Thiel – “Hoogbegaafd. Dat zie je zó!”
Over the course of my life I have encountered countless examples of rejection and bullying. Simply because I was different. I didn’t know why, but I was just weird. Always questioning, trying to learn more, to understand the world around me. But also questioning authority. Needless to say it got me into trouble. At first people think a bright child is fun, cute. But when that bright child grows up to be a bright teenager. adolecent or adult, he or she is in trouble.
In our society it’s simply better to fit in than to stand out.
I can give you endless examples of gifted people who were succesfull, but also who broke down. And please don’t get me wrong: I don’t feel better than anyone else. That’s the most heard assumption. NO! Being gifted doesn’t hold a judgement in itself. The term ‘gifted’ is somewhat unfortunate, as most people think it implies feelings of superiority, of judgement towards others. But I am not better or worse than the next man. Often I even feel less, just because I am not able to fit in like a normal person. I didn’t ask for for it and it’s not arrogance that drives me to be this way. I just have a different style of thinking, of learning, of expression. But – despite what social conventions or politicians tell you – difference isn’t bad. The different colors in a painting enrich the whole work, otherwise it would be just a grey canvas.
I’ve pushed myself over and over to try, but it never worked out. But I’m tired of trying, tired of falling out, tired of singing the same old song over and over again. It’s no use. I’m tired, tired of it all. I’m sorry if this in any way offends you, that’s not my intention. But I simply can’t change who I am. God knows I’ve tried…