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14 Former “Gifted” Kids Update Us on Where They Ended Up

There has been a lot of talk recently about what being labeled “gifted” does to some kids as they grow up and age out of the formal education system. Many of them lament being praised for being smart, since it’s not anything they could ever control, and blame being singled out as a factor in a later lack of success.

If you were a former gifted kid, or you have one in your life (then and now), you might be interested to hear where they are now.

14. I didn’t expect any of that.

I never went to college and got a factory job right out of HS. I worked as an assembler for 7 months and was promoted to team leader.

I had been dealing with hip problems since I was a kid. 4 years after my promotion I had my 2nd surgery, and could no longer continue working.

We had twin sons, and since I had been home for a couple years at that point, we decided I would be a stay-at-home dad.

When the boys were 3 I had a 3rd surgery that finally fixed me.

Two years later I was severely burned in a brush fire and spent the next year having 4 more surgeries for the burn.

A year and a week after the fire I developed headaches that led to my brain cancer diagnosis.

So now I’m still raising my kids and trying to stay alive.

13. Eh, what’s money?

I’m a librarian. One commonality I’ve noticed across gifted young people is they tend to follow their passions somewhat more than others.

That means going after careers based on what they love to do, more than the pursuit of money.

12. It’s not easy for anyone.

Med school, but I’d say I spend at least half of my current time wondering if the stress/mental health strain is worth it. Still happy though thanks to my wife and son who do everything to support me.

11. It might not be what you’d expect.

This is a great point! My sister was gifted and still is. She’s extremely intelligent and talented at everything she does. School was never her thing though. My parents had to begggg her to finish college.

She now owns a very successful photography business and she’s amazing at it!

10. I want to know more.

homeless for 7 years, you ever see a guy flying a sign and reading, that’s me

9. A little bit of everything.

In high school I was really focused on biology. Then I got to college and the world of humanities existed. I completely forgot about biology and after trying A LOT of other options ended up with a degree in linguistic anthropology.

I went back to school and got a masters in HR (because money), but while I was in school I got a job in a legal department as a contract admin. I HATED that job, but contracts are pretty fun. So I briefly thought about going back to school to become a paralegal.

Now I’m working with my dad and sister to teach patients about pharmaceutical r&d, but we had to put the business on hold for covid. In the meantime I’m getting back into art…

I’m moving back to the area where I went to school and seriously considering a PhD in medical anthropology. I’m pretty sure I’ll never figure out what I want to be when I grow up (I’m 35).

8. I don’t think it’s meant to be a joke.

Drinking.

7. Not that different.

These threads are always such a creepy schadenfreude fest, but thinking back on what my gifted class is up to now: We had a couple doctors, a couple military officers, several teachers, a few corporate types, some lawyers, and a diplomat.

And I don’t think a single one of us ever fell into the mythical “smart but lazy” burnout stereotype that populates this thread. We worked hard. We’re still working hard.

6. It takes a village (and a lot of effort).

I started school early, went to a private school for gifted kids for two years, went back to public school and was put into an accelerated learning program, skipped a grade.

I barely graduated high school, and dropped out of college with a 1.9 GPA.

I’m currently managing a department of 10-12 people in an industry I love, in a country I didn’t think I’d ever live in. I’ve gotten treatment for my depression/anxiety and a diagnosis for my autism. I have two kids, an amazing spouse, and a very patient therapist.

Before COVID I’d occasionally take lessons in things I loved— metalworking, glassblowing, that kind of thing— just because it was so good for my mental health to have a couple hours a week where it was perfectly okay to fail at something. It’s one of the things I look forward to most once the pandemic is under control.

5. As long as it’s interesting.

There were only 4 of of us in my gifted classes, a geologist for a mining company, teacher, insurance salesman.

Last, but certainly not least, I took the construction management route.

You want a challenging job?

Deal with the ego of architects and the indecision of clients and toss in 20 subcontractors who’s grasp of English is flexible.

4. The money…

I have a job that I 1000% hate but pays well. It’s like a billion hours a week plus stress. Going into this shit I was like “this will totally be worth it”. Now I’m realizing it’s totally not worth it. I wish I had a normal 8-5 that paid 75% of what I currently make.

I just want to not be stressed off my ass and in a constant state of survival at work. Like I just realized that I spend 10-11 hours every day just totally f*cking miserable and stressed out. Idk how much longer I can do it.

I’m scared to look for a new job cause I took this job in a field that I don’t have a degree in. Idk, I’ll probably delete this later but my god do we work too much in this country

3. That’s all that matters.

I joined the charity sector and ‘wasted’ all that potential on a cause that means something to me.

And I’m very happy with my decision.

2. Gifted not exceptional.

Was considered gifted from an early age. Coasted and still did well through middle school and fine (not great) in high school. Got into a decent college, but still didn’t really know how to work off of anything other than raw intelligence.

Went to a good law school and it kicked my tail, but did fine. It was in law school that I realized that although I was considered gifted when I was young, I was not exceptional. The world had caught up to me. I’m currently a practicing attorney with a fulfilling career, but otherwise just another face in the crowd.

I have a child who is currently considered gifted and is off the charts on all things academic. I’m constantly reminding him that hard work mixed with his intelligence is an unassailable combination, while simultaneously trying to remember to let him just be a kid. I hope he gets it.

1. Passion matters.

I had the super fun experience of being a gifted kid while ALSO living with severe ADHD. I never learned how to study because I never had to, and whenever I tried to I simply was not able. The only things that actually calmed my brain down were theatre and music, but in an attempt to avoid “wasting my potential”, I applied to a really good university for an engineering degree. I ended up getting in, having an existential crisis, then taking a year off to figure my life out.

I’m now in my third year of my Drama degree and I literally could not be happier. I know for a fact that I would not have had the focus to stick with an engineering degree, because even though I have an innate affinity for math and the sciences, I’m just not passionate about either.

When I don’t like something, I feel physically unable to sit down and do it.

I’m kind of glad I was never chosen now, to be honest.

If you were, share with us what you’re doing now, too!