too smart for my own good: growing up twice exceptional and girl.

Shout out to the girls who were too smart for your own good, you just need to try harder, boys don’t like you because you use big words, you’ll understand when you’re older. The girls that started out Hermione Granger, grew up to be Laura Wingfield. The girls in schools where forgetting to turn in your homework with every question right wasn’t the same as not sitting still in class, sensitive and anxious and lonely wasn’t the same as can’t make eye contact so you never got a diagnosis. Your parents and teachers saw so much potential they couldn’t see what was keeping it from showing on your report card.

In second grade, I took a test that told me I was reading at a college level. Later, took another test that told the school district I could join the gifted program. Another test convinced Beloit College to overlook my two-point-something-something GPA and never materialized final high school transcript. I could always pass tests.

No one ever thought I was “hyperactive,” but I did dance, swimming, gymnastics, cheerleading, soccer, softball, art classes, horseback riding, Girl Scouts, and clubs and clubs and clubs. Over the summer I would lose contact with the few friends I had made that school year and, after coming home from one day camp or another, check out dozens of books from the library, reading more than one a day, reading all night. Every summer since both series ended I re-read all seven Harry Potters and re-watched all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls. Rory and Hermione weren’t afraid to be the smartest person in the room and they both turned out ok.

I went through these phases where I couldn’t bear to stray from a single topic. Once it was outer space. Once it was ancient Egypt. Once it was dance history. Once it was Spring Awakening. I couldn’t stand not knowing everything about the things I loved but learning something I was bored of or never understood was torture. No one ever figured out that I hadn’t understood a math class since first grade.

This February, I dropped out of school (bipolar). Last April, I dropped out of school (depression). The March before, I dropped out of school (cytomegalovirus). Junior year of high school, I started taking classes online because leaving the house everyday to go somewhere I hated was too hard. Seventh grade, I switched from a Catholic K-8 to a public middle school. Third grade, I did the opposite. Sixth grade, I never got my spring report card after missing 3 straight weeks for a migraine that wouldn’t end.

What’s the difference between a temper tantrum and a panic attack? Where’s the line between bratty and bossy and impaired social functioning? How far is disobedience from executive dysfunction?

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