Gifted Students: Competition, Stress, Fraud Feelings

By Cat Robson

Day 42 Overwhelmed by Bryan GoslineWhen I was a child, and even through graduate school, I thought people were going to find out I was a fraud.

I thought other talented people were doing better, achieving more and having more fun doing it, and I still tend to compare myself unfavorably with others on a daily basis.

In her book, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings, Christine Fonseca talks about the stress students experience.

Emily, a 16-year-old gifted student, is a high achiever. She also considers herself a fraud.

Faced with a definition of being bright and high achieving given by the adults in her life, Emily assumes that she should not have to work as hard as she does to maintain her grades.

She watches her high-achieving friends and feels that “they” must be gifted, because “they” do not appear to be working nearly as hard as she is.

She has to study diligently, stay up late, and work very hard to uphold the 4.3 GPA she insists on maintaining.

In addition to school, Emily plays the piano, swims competitively, and participates in journalism and political clubs. In an effort to com- plete her required courses and get a head start on college, Emily takes additional classes at the local college campus.

She also tutors younger children to help supplement the funds required for her college education.

Emily is under a lot of stress. She deals with the stress in somewhat explosive ways, often melting down into a heap in her room.

During these times, Emily will throw things and yell at anyone who asks her anything. This includes siblings and her parents, especially her parents.

After her tirades, Emily will feel extreme remorse, causing her to sob and cry, sometimes for hours on end.

When Emily looks back on her behavior, she believes that something is wrong with her—that she is somehow damaged or crazy.

Download the first chapter from Christine Fonseca’s blog.


Article: Getting beyond impostor feelings.

Site: High Ability

Articles: High Ability – gifted/talented


Giftedness characteristics

Self-tests: giftedness / high ability


Mary-Elaine Jacobsen. The Gifted Adult

Marylou Kelly Streznewski. Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential.


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