Who Needs Normal Anyway?
Kelsey is pictured 2nd from left
This article first appeared in the August, 2004, issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter and is used here with permission.
This year, my mom and I decided to go out to the Gifted Development Center’s 25th anniversary conference and PG camp. For six glorious, lovely, amazing, wonderful days, I spent time with kids my age who understood me, who respected me, and who didn’t care whether I was in middle school or graduate school. I didn’t have to adjust for once, I didn’t have to jam myself into the “normal teen” mold and try to make it work; I could just be “me.” As an example, when someone would say something that I didn’t hear (courtesy of Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)), instead of being the only one saying “What?” or “Huh?” I was joined by a chorus of the same.
The author, second from right, with PG Retreat Cohorts (Photo by Cornelia Koyama) After awesome classes, such as Betty Meckstroth’s “Mind and Body” (about the connection between your thoughts and your physical being), we spent time doing normal teen stuff: playing video games, watching TV, and just sitting around wasting away our brain cells. We didn’t mention the “G-word” (gifted) at all, well, only to make fun of ourselves.
At some of the other gifted conferences I’ve been to, the kids would go on for hours about science or math, playing the infamous game of “I’m better than you are” or “I know more than you do.” I just couldn’t stand to be there; feeling like a “lesser being” because I wasn’t taking college classes. It was so refreshing to be somewhere with a bunch of kids my age who didn’t go on about what classes they were taking at the university; egos were checked at the coat rack.
Another major difference between the PG Retreat and previous conferences: at PG Retreat, we were treated like responsible young adults by the administration and hotel staff. We were allowed to go off by ourselves for a few hours, and not have people calling around trying to find us. Instead of being followed by a chaperone, escorted to and from our hotel rooms, we had freedom – and, in all fairness, we didn’t abuse it either. This freedom of time and space allowed us to be ourselves – to truly open up to each other.
One night, between watching movies and playing video games, someone asked, “Do you remember what it feels like to be normal?” There was an overwhelming silence – just… nothing. After a minute of consideration I said, “A long time ago… before school and gifted programs.” I had that distant memory to remind me of how it used to be – until that week in Colorado.
That week created a new standard for me, a new definition of normal. Being able to sit with peers who understood what it felt like to be the “black sheep” or the “odd man out” made me realize that there are other “Unidentified Gifted Objects” out there, just like me.
© Kelsey Ganes
Thirteen-year-old Kelsey Ganes lives in Seattle and knows her e’s. She plays the guitar, piano, and violin and has a wide range of interests including singing, acting, writing, and art in all media. After five years of homeschooling, she’ll be attending high school this fall.
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