Aptitude Sickness


Tea Perez

A figure stands with a mountain of insecurities looming over them. The high stakes many gifted kids put on themselves can create tough hurdles to overcome.

School is hard. Anyone can admit that, and just about every student can agree. Of course there’s varying degrees of struggle. Some students excel in STEM-based subjects, others in literature and social sciences, and some in the arts. As someone who’s been in the gifted program since first grade, school performance means everything to me, and to so many other students. There is a clear pressure on us as students to perform well, no matter our weaknesses. Gifted kids are no exception to the struggles of school, in fact, we tend to make it harder for ourselves. Being a gifted kid has its advantages, but it can also create harmful disadvantages. 

It’s almost difficult to say out loud. You don’t want to be the “Oh no, people have told me I’m smart from such a young age! Whatever shall I do?” person. No one wants to turn something you should be proud of into something to complain about. I absolutely loved being in Spectra throughout my elementary and middle school days. The class was such a breath of fresh air from the mundane required curriculum. The friends made in that class are truly ones you stick with for the rest of your school career. However, there comes a point where one needs to evaluate how something sincerely impacted you.

 Being told from such a young age, and consistently for most of your pre-pubescent life, that you are incredibly smart and getting special treatment because of it does give you a god complex. It creates a cloak of invincibility that shrouds your being; nothing is too difficult to handle.

While productivity and hard work are incredible attributes to have, charging at full speed with no rest is detrimental to mental health. It goes the same way for the opposite side of the spectrum, this cloak makes you believe you don’t have to work hard to achieve greatness. Procrastination is a plague within the gifted kid community. We stop trying because why should we? Both habits are poor and create so much stress, but sometimes we physically can’t stop. 

Having smart friends can also be a burden. As students so intensely focused on performance, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others. I have strengths, and so do my friends. I have weaknesses too, those mainly being in math and science. An odd weakness to have when gifted kids are so often proficient in STEM. I don’t get bad grades, and in retrospect, I know and see this. Yet, I see my friends, extremely proficient in the subjects I lack in, and I feel like a failure. I say lack as if I don’t still get A’s and B’s in these subjects. It’s these high expectations we set for ourselves that become such a heavy weight to carry.  

We pride ourselves so much on our academic achievements, and oftentimes it’s all we have to define ourselves. The exclusion of the gifted program creates socially inept children who don’t always know how to interact with people. When you’re so focused on intellectual learning it’s tough to squeeze in communication skills too. This doesn’t go for everybody, but it’s an issue nonetheless. Society praises those with athletic prowess and beauty, but socially awkward nerds don’t exactly fit the status quo. 

This is not to say Spectra and the gifted program only creates little academically obsessed narcissists with procrastination and social issues. I do believe Spectra can be great for those more attuned to their intellectual curiosity. It’s only the way in which some of these kids’ mindsets grow that isn’t fabulous. I am speaking with my own personal experience, so incredible kudos to you if everything I say isn’t on the nose. Academics and caring about your education is incredibly important, no matter if you’re a gifted kid or not. Having a basis of knowledge is vital to being a well-rounded individual and an able member of society. It just shouldn’t get to the point where it becomes a burden.