The Tangled Necklace Theory
Imagine in the palm of your hand you have a beautiful silver chain necklace with a gorgeous diamond pendant. It was given to you by your grandmother who has passed away and it is the most precious gift you have ever been given. You put it away to keep it safe years ago, and now finally you have gotten to take it out to wear for a very special occasion. And you find that somehow it has become completely tangled. This necklace is special to you and you can’t remember how it got this way. It is unusable. It is so knotted up you are not sure you will ever be able to fix it, and certainly not in time for your event. All that beauty, all that meaning and history are locked away inside this mess, inaccessible. You were so excited to finally use it, to show it off, and you were certain it would be there when you needed it. It’s not, and you’re not sure why. How frustrated are you? How angry are you? How sad are you?
This is what it’s like to be a gifted girl, whose self-worth is so entangled with skill development.
A young girl’s self worth can be defined by so many variables, but among gifted girls their ability to perform and achieve (or lack thereof) is directly correlated to how they view themselves. Girls are under so much pressure to “have it all together”, that it can be very painful if they fail that incredibly high standard. How much more painful then for gifted girls who know that their vulnerabilities are blocking them from using and displaying all the brilliance they know they possess. They believe they should be able to meet and even exceed that standard, and that their failure to do so is somehow their fault. This can look like the girl who gets a lower grade than she is used to on her math test and thinks this makes her a horrible person, or the girl who doesn’t understand why what she is saying to the other kids is rude when she feels she is simply stating her opinion. These instances can create a sense of moral failure within these girls when in fact they have vulnerabilities in their skill level.
This may seem like a simple concept to understand and even relate to regardless of being gifted or not. But gifted girls are complex and extreme in nature and therefore this issue of entanglement can be extremely debilitating and difficult to untangle once it has kicked into high gear. It is important to address this entanglement with intention and strategic action and compassion.
Imagine your necklace again. If all the little links in the delicate silver chain are all the pieces of a person: personality traits, skills, identities, etc., then the pendant is the self worth of that person. In order to untangle that mess you have to know where the central knot is, you need a framework and strategy for your plan of attack, you need a touch gentle enough not to damage the chain but firm enough not to keep letting pieces slip through your fingers. And most importantly, you need to have patience. You need to know when it is time to put it down and come back to it later. It is incredibly difficult and complex. And it is not something that happens overnight.
People tend to become tangled without much awareness as to how it happened, and the tangles will not be undone without help.