I'm a bit of a slacker. Some of you will read this and be surprised at that admission, and others will say, "Tell me something I don't know, Stephanie!" But it's true. Historically, I am the Queen of Skating By. I went to a gifted magnet-type high school, where I was required to maintain a 2.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) to stay in the program. I graduated with a 2.54 but still had high enough ACT scores to get an academic scholarship to college. (I blew that after the first year because of the aforementioned skating by.)
I go through cycles where I get a lot accomplished and am a powerhouse of productivity. Seriously, I can be a force of nature. I'm resourceful and dogged and smart. I will do my best to prevail and often turn tasks into a game, to see how well or how quickly they can be done. I think that's something most gifted kids learn to do fairly early, if for no other reason than to quiet the boredom of the traditional classroom.
Other times, I will let everything slide. I'll find myself days behind on a project or chores or whatever, and then I'm racing to catch up at the last minute. Unfortunately, I also picked up the great gift of working extremely well under pressure and with limited time. The combination of skills means I tend to leave things to the last damn minute, then exhaust myself in a flourish to get them done. Usually they'll be done well, and I get a rush from the intensity of the challenge. It's kind of an exhilarating game, really.
I'm also a little distractible. (Shocking, I know.) I'm impatient and a little manic at times, which is usually when I get a lot accomplished. I will forge my path and get things done as efficiently as possible, but also as stylishly as possible so it looks good, too. (I can bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan!) As I've said before, my mind will flit from thing to thing, like a hummingbird.
There's this other thing, that I like to see how things work, how they fit together, how they connect with everything around them. I'm really, really good at puzzles of all kinds. I always have been. I can see several steps ahead, moving in and out of the process to gauge where the end will be. I am very adept at predicting the End Game. It's a bit savant-ish at times.
So I'll be in a situation, in a process, and be looking ahead to see how it will end. If I consistently see the same end, am confident that I know where it's going, I get bored. I quit. The challenge is gone, so what's the point in continuing? And don't try to tell me that the point is to see it through to completion; I've finished a lot of things in my life and have no sense of lack of accomplishment.
These are the reasons why I didn't graduate from college, why I quit playing MYST after the first two areas of the game were solved, and why there's a stack of books in my house that are half-finished.
Being a slacker doesn't make me a bad person, certainly, or even a poorly-directed person. Unfortunately there are a lot of gifted kids who fall into the category of Perpetual Underachiever. I know several of my lackadaisical cohorts who will be reading this and nodding their heads in emphatic agreement. I also think there's some truth to Gen X'ers being perhaps a bit more prone to slacking, at least from the outside perspective.
When Generation X (Yes, I know it wasn't coined by Douglas Coupland or Billy Idol.) became the collective moniker for my friends and I--essentially kids of the 60's and 70's--it eventually took on a tone of derision. We were described as not caring, not giving a damn about anything, and just down-right lazy. Sure, I have contemporaries like that; I've been all of those things at various points in my life. The reality, as I see it, is that we're picky about what we deem worthy of the effort. We're very careful to choose just the right things that deserve the expenditure of our Energy of Success. If the end result isn't worth the trouble, why go through the process?
I pick and choose regularly, and I'm becoming more adept at turning things away before I delve into them too deeply. Honestly, it takes a lot for anything to make an impression on my hummingbird-wing-buzzing brain. But when I find something that does grab my attention, I will spend an extraordinary amount of energy in understanding it fully. I will be completely engrossed in it to see what makes it work, and where it's going, and how it impacts its own minute or enormous world.
I am most likely to be fascinated by why it attracts and impacts me and the process by which I come to fully understand it. It could be a book, a song, a person; if it can stop me in my tracks and turn me completely around to face it, it's worth my time and energy to explore it further. I will do everything in my power to see it through to the end, to immerse myself in it until I fully understand it. There's a beauty and a sensuality in that immersion. Both emotionally and cerebrally, it can be captivating and rapturous.
Other people crave travel and seeing as many different places and things as possible. Some collect things, objects to remind them of what they love and what they've done. I know a couple of people who collect knowledge, as that's what's most valued in their personal, psychic worlds. For me, it's the understanding of the experience, the complete appreciation for a complex, non-temporal moment of time and thought.
Sometimes it can make me seem a little obsessive. If something external distracts me, pushes me off course from being able to see, or get, to the end of the process of experiential enlightenment, it makes me irritable and defensive and reactive. I've learned over time to inhibit the constant bombardment of external stimuli that rails at me. When I find something so exquisite that it deserves my undivided attention, it's almost insulting when I'm asked to put it away or leave it alone. God help the person who tries to forcibly take it from me.
Eventually I will work through my fixation and find a balance between obsession and discard. An equilibrium, if you will. I do actually have a happy medium; it just takes me a bit longer than most to find it. Sometimes my own muchness gets in my way, but it's a great ride if I can just hold on to the very end.