The more I think about this quandary the more I realize it signifies a lot about life for gifted people of all ages. Sometimes we see every option as a valid one. Sometimes we see all the options as worthwhile. And sometimes having so many possibilities can be
mind-blowing and creates the danger of never completing anything.
Usually the elementary school years are pretty safe- there are a lot of rules and parents make a lot of decisions for children. But as gifted people start realizing there are options(which happens much earlier for most gifted childrenthan their peers,) the arguments and power struggles begin. Even those arguments have limits though. At some point a parent or teacher will find a way to stop the discussion and the child still ends up heading in the direction that the system expects them to go. But as we get older the decisions become more complex and the world opens up even more. What classes should I take? Where should I go to college? What do I want to do when I'm done with school? How should I spend my spare time? Who should I love or let go? What car should I drive? Should I join a community organization? Where do I want to live? And the list goes on and on and on.
Some people who are less adventurous or who were conditioned in more convincing ways may choose to live in traditional
ways that model behaviors or choices made by other people they admire or model their lives after. And some people may find missions in life that define their route. Others may sacrifice their own choices for causes or needs of others.
There are so many ways to "grow up" and be in the world. But the majority of human minds don't stop thinking about "what ifs" and wondering what could happen if they chose to do something else, or add a new element to their lives.
Gifted intensities often add another dimension to these internal conversations. Second-guessing life paths and imagining new journeys and options seems to come with overexcitable minds. Maybe the new adventure is as tame as choosing to try a new membership or product at a neighborhood business, or finding a new hobby to put energy into, or (my current issue) wanting to move to a foreign country/learn a new language/home school the kids/and start a new business on the other side of the world.
The multiple choice test of life keeps adding new answers to the questions that matter the most. Do you choose "a) stay
in your current job that you have built up into what anyone else would consider a great career," or "b) apply for that other equally awesome job at the new company start-up on the other side of town," or "c) start your own business where you can set your own hours and see your family more but have to struggle to pay the bills for awhile"??? It makes it worse when you are studying those types of questions in your mind every waking hour and every answer has equal appeal. And sometimes the answer to one question ends up starting to look even better than the others even though you know without a doubt it is not the "standardized answer..."
Often the more gifted people see different options, the more they don't want to choose the "right" one. And that causes
strife between them and the rest of society. Taking the leap to do things that are out-of-the-box, creative (and usually more complex) than what everyone thinks grown ups should do creates stress and more difficulties for an already frustrated person. By choosing to challenge their friends or coworkers or even family in order to choose a new road, the gifted person can become more isolated and alone and the answers get harder to delineate.
It becomes even more complicated when every option is appealing, especially when you want to try them all.
Unfortunately we haven't yet discovered a way to be in more than one place at the same time... To be in the tropics and the snowy mountains... To have a family life and a single life... To have a life of leisure and enough work to keep from being bored... Although sometimes we can imagine ways to get pretty close to having more than one choice when we find things that can be considered almost compromises. We can live in a location close to both beaches and mountains (maybe not tropical beaches but beautiful ones...) We can take vacations without the kids and enjoy things you can't do with a family in tow. And we can find jobs that make us so happy we forget we are working so hard at times.
The saying "life is full of compromises" is true. But sometimes compromises are not enough. And when that is the case it becomes another set of test questions. Do you think about the options so much that you decide to pick them all? Do you leave the perfect job to try the start-up down the road, while saving up to start that business you always dreamed of having? And if the answer is yes and you choose them all, how do you circle back to option "a" if you change your mind and wish you didn't try to have it all? Because sometimes choosing to try the other options means losing out on some too. Are you brave
enough to take the risk? Will you regret not trying? Or regret not staying in place? And there is where the multiple choice exam becomes even more complicated.
I never liked the saying "you can't have your cake and eat it too," because I thought it was silly to imagine only baking one cake. Why not bake five and keep one, eat one, save one, and give a couple away in trades..? If only I could come up with a way to bake five cakes instead of only one. I try to always have several cakes in the oven but it is indeed a balancing act. Not every one of them firms up, and often none of them even get "done." I keep changing ingredients and messing with the recipes. I keep changing my mind about who I want to give the extra two cakes, and I'm never exactly sure where to store the one I'm saving, or which one I want to eat.
When you started reading this article you may have hoped there would be answers at the end to help you figure out how to balance all those questions in your own mind. But no one can answer your questions for you. All I can do is advise you that you are not alone... That gifted people everywhere feel this same way... And I share your misery. But life is much more interesting when you can see all the possible options and the best way to know what you are supposed to do is to weigh all the pros and cons and then go with your gut in the end. Besides, if you always answer the life quiz with the standardized answer you will always end up in a crowd and that's not always the most interesting place to be.