What is it Like to Have a High IQ?
Hint: It's not all that great, really.....
I recently found out that I have a very high IQ: high enough to qualify for Mensa, the international high IQ society. I am relieved. I am relieved because I have always felt "different" and actually thought that there might be something "wrong" with me.
Just because you have a high IQ, it does not mean that you will be rich or famous, or even happy. It does mean that you probably feel different than most other people. And, if there is no one else to help you to understand that and to guide you, you may feel confused and lonely. Yes, really!
Is an IQ Score a Valid Measure of Intelligence?
I so often see and hear this question. In my opinion, the strict answer is, "No." After all, what is intelligence?
According to my own experience, a person's IQ score indicates how they think and how they perceive the world around and within.
Testing for IQ Levels
I feel it's important to say up front that you cannot determine a valid IQ by taking an on line quiz. Testing for IQ is really quite complicated and involves many different sections. There are a few different validated IQ tests which are used. They consist of more than questions for you to answer and are administered in person, usually by a neuropsychologist or someone trained in this particular testing. You will be misinformed by taking one of the many tests or quizzes presented on line. Mensa is one legitimate group that offers this testing to the public.
Trying to Understand
My goal in writing this is to help people understand how it can feel to have a high IQ. I feel that it is very confusing to the general population. People think of it as "being smarter" and, therefore, being "better" in some way. This is not the case, as I will explain. I also want to help others who have found that they have a high IQ and are still trying to figure "it" all out. This will be an adventure and an exploration for me as I share with you what I am discovering that is true for me.
Here is a long phrase someone used recently to search for information on the web. Their search landed them here on this page. How very accurate this statement is!
"people with a high iq often find themselves a little lonely among people who just don't think in the same ways. people with high iq's are in no way better than others. they just think in different ways"
High IQ does NOT make you perfect, or even close
One thing I know is that your IQ is only part of who you are. It does not determine your wealth or your happiness. It does not make your life easier and it does present many challenges, especially if you don't know why you are different.
Many times in my life I have thought to myself, "I just want to be normal"! I felt so often unhappy, isolated and misunderstood. When you think differently than most of those around you, when you see the world through an alternate lens, when you "see" even more than meets the eye, and no one else can understand you, you FEEL less than normal. People don't relate to you. Some may even scorn or laugh at you. And, it can stop you in your tracks. If you do not know what is happening and why, your self esteem can suffer and you can become paralyzed. You can fail to move forward. You can give up.
This is why I want to help others who are also dealing with having a high IQ. When only 2% or less of the population can think the way that you do, you DO feel different and if you do not know why, it can be hard to find your way. It may be that the way you need to steer your "boat" is much different than the way most others do it. You may need a guide to help you learn to navigate effectively.
A Perfect Description of Having a High IQ
from the late author and philanthropist, Pearl Buck
"The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.
Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create - - - so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating."
There is so Much Beauty in the World - I want to take it all in...
...roll it around in my mind, hold it, know it, understand it, relish in not understanding it, and....I want, so much, to help others see it, too.
Characteristics of Gifted Adults - From the Gifted & Creative Services of Australia
Here is a list of characteristics of gifted, or high-IQ adults. I definitely have felt and do experience everything on this list. You will see that it's about much more than "being smart". It is really more about being highly aware and able to easily see connections between ideas, events, people and on and on.
This list is from the Gifted & Creative Services of Australia, which offers information on the experience of being a gifted child or adult. Click on the link in the following section for expanded info from this group.
- perfectionistic and sets high standards for self and others
- has strong moral convictions
- feels outrage at moral breaches that others seem to take for granted
- is highly sensitive, perceptive or insightful
- is a good problem solver
- has unusual ideas or connects seemingly unrelated ideas
- thrives on challenge
- fascinated by words or an avid reader
- learns new things rapidly
- has a good long-term memory
- is very curious
- has an unusual sense of humor
- has a vivid and rich imagination
- feels overwhelmed by many interests and abilities
- loves ideas and ardent discussion
- can't switch off thinking
- is very compassionate
- has passionate, intense feelings
- has a great deal of energy
- feels driven by creativity
- needs periods of contemplation
- searches for answers in life
- feels out-of-sync or out-of-step with others
- feels a sense of alienation and loneliness
More High IQ Traits
The following are links to website pages which offer good lists of or comments on the personality characteristics and common life experiences of gifted adults, or people with a high IQ. I can identify with them all. Note how there are several I've already suspected and mentioned in regard to feeling lonely, misunderstood and isolated. I don't think most people realize that these are major issues for those of us who have a high IQ.
- Gifted & Creative Services of Austrailia
Click this link to read more about the list included in the section above.
- Gifted & Creative Adults
Here is the website of Lynne M. Azpeitia, M.A., a counselor from Santa Monica, CA who specializes in helping gifted adults.
- How Being Gifted Means Being Different
Oh my, this is a wonderful essay written by Rebecca Trotter back in 2008 on the site called Word Press. Here is a quote lifted from the essay, but please click on the link and read the entire piece. "This fundamental different-ness combined with a l
When and How Did I Learn of My High IQ?
Because I was having a bit of trouble with my memory, my doctor referred me to a specialist for psycho-neurological testing. The tests revealed that my memory was normal, however, we had to check my IQ because memory correlates to IQ. In other words, if you have a high IQ, your memory should be similarly high.
The testing revealed a very high IQ and indicated that I was, indeed, having problems with my memory, after all. My memory should have been above normal to correspond with my IQ. It also showed that I did not have any degenerative neurological illnesses. That was good news. And, through a process of elimination, it was determined that lack of sleep was the culprit in terms of memory issues.
I do remember my mother telling me, when I was in high school, that I had a high IQ, but I never heard any numbers and it never occurred to me that it might be something to pay attention to. In fact, I had forgotten all about it. Now I knew about my high IQ and I wondered what, at this point in my life, it might mean to me and what I could do with it.
Mensa International - A Resource for IQ Testing and more
Here is one of the sources for determining your IQ. Mensa, the well-known international high IQ society, offers their own IQ test which is administered, in person, by one of their representatives. Belonging to Mensa makes it easier to find and socialize with others who have a high IQ and offers you many other benefits, as well. The only qualifying guideline for membership is having an official IQ of 130 or higher.
- Mensa International
Click on this link to learn more about Mensa!
Is It Really Good to Be Gifted? - Unique challenges of the highly gifted
I can track what people who view this page have searched for in order to find it. Most of those searches have read as follows:
"children with high iq missing out on life"
"does high iq makes you feel less"
"very high iq problems"
Like me, it seems others have had a difficult time of it with their high IQ trait. Check out the article below.
Not So Great? David Palmer, PhD explains…
- Optimal IQ and the Flipside to Giftedness, by David Palmer Ph.D
This interesting site has quite an array of information about raising a gifted child, and this particular article helps to explain just how challenging it can be to be "gifted" with a high IQ.
The Gifted Adult by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen
Most of what I read in this book by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen confirms what I have been experiencing my whole life. For instance, being overwhelmed by lots of sound and activity is a common occurrence for me, but I hadn't realized that it might be due to having a high IQ. Now it makes sense. With a higher IQ, the book explains, you tend to have a greater sense of awareness and notice many more things than most people. What might be perceived as fun for the people you are with, can, instead, be overwhelming for you. At times like those, I felt like there was something wrong with me. It's great to have an explanation now.
There is, included in the book, a self-scored test which you can take to determine what some of your personal characteristics are. I do feel that the test is too simplistic and too dependent upon you being very self-aware and very honest with yourself, but that is minor.
The Gifted Adult is a great book and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Why So Sensitive? - It's All About a High Level of Awareness
Do you often ask yourself why you have to be so sensitive? Do you introvert yourself in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed or frustrated? Do people often tell you to just "get over it"? Being extra-sensitive goes hand-in-hand with having a high IQ. It can be very disorienting. Until you understand it better, it can be downright confusing. But, once you understand this as a trait, you can try to turn it into an advantage.
I can remember telling one of my bosses that, within the company, I was like the canary in a coal mine. I knew this was true. I would tend to be sensitive to and aware of a problem long before others. I wanted to help by sharing what I could so easily see. How presumptuous of me. She did not want to hear it. There were, indeed, big problems which finally surfaced and the business eventually had to be sold, but not before much discord and unhappiness ensued for everyone.
At least I understood what was going on and was able to keep things in perspective. And, I "got out" before the changes took place.
Here is some information to help you better understand this trait.
- Emotional intensity in Children with a High IQ
Here is an article by Lesley K. Sword, of Gifted & Creative Services in Australia, on one of the least-understood traits of people with a high IQ: hypersensitivity. This particular piece focuses on children, but it is true for adults, as well.
- Gifted Children: Emotionally Immature or Emotionally Intense?
Here is another article on the same subject and from the same person who wrote the one above. Each article has it's own merits.
Examples of how a child with a high IQ can feel
When I was about 7 or 8 years old, home alone with my mother and feeling bored, I decided to write some poetry. I remember that one of the poems was about a parrot. I wish I could read it now, but I destroyed it soon after I wrote it. I had shown it to my mother and she told me that I hadn't written it -- that I must have copied it from somewhere. I was bewildered and confused, feeling as if I had somehow done something wrong. It may sound odd that I would have that reaction, but I was young enough to not understand what was happening. I admired my mother and felt that I had disappointed her.
In 4th grade I made a 3-dimensional map of the US out of homemade play-doh-like clay for a class homework assignment. I carefully shaped all the states, including elevations, and added color. I worked very hard at it and had a great time doing it. I proudly took the map into class and my teacher failed me on the project. She told me that my mother must have made it for me and that I had cheated. I was very confused and I couldn't convince her otherwise. Even after my mother called her to complain, she still insisted that I couldn't have made it.
During classes in elementary school, when the teacher would ask the class a question, I always knew the answer, but was careful to not raise my hand. I didn't want to be different. Initially, I had felt that when no one else in class raised their hand, I must be wrong. If no one else knew, and if what I thought was the answer had come so easily and obviously to me, it must not be correct, but it always was. Eventually, I didn't want to draw attention to myself and I didn't want to get in trouble for always knowing the answers when none of my classmates did. Elementary school was very, very confusing for me.
Am I Good Enough, Smart Enough?
A confused and misunderstood mind can create a mental block which keeps you from achieving success.
- The Trouble With Bright Kids - Heidi Grant Halvorson - Harvard Business Review
For Harvard Business Review, Heidi Grant Halvorson cites research and writes about problems in self-esteem that can develop among the highly intelligent.
Helping Gifted Children
I feel that the best kind of person to recognize a high IQ child is a high IQ adult. When I see and recognize a child with what I can see as a high IQ, and I know that they have no one helping them cope with it, my heart breaks a little.
I was intrigued to find this school which caters to profoundly gifted young people.
- Davidson Academy of Nevada - Reno, Nevada
The Davidson Academy of Nevada is a free public school for profoundly gifted middle and high school students. Located at the University of Nevada, Reno, Davidson Academy students can develop their intellectual abilities at an appropriate level.
What You All Want to Know
...makes me feel sad
As I already mentioned, I am able to view the words people have typed into the search engines in order to find this page. They confirm what I have been experiencing in my life--that having a high IQ is not easy. Here are more of the phrases used in readers' search for information:
"Does having a high IQ make you lonely?"
"Feeling isolated with high IQ"
"High IQ feeling different"
"Does having a high IQ make it hard to have friends?"
"How to cope with high IQ"
"How to feel normal with High IQ"
"Help for high IQ feeling lonely"
"Hard to communicate because of high IQ"
"Gifted adults misunderstood isolated"
"High IQ guide to living well"
"I just found out I have a high IQ"
"Gifted adults lonely misunderstood"
"Higher IQ higher standards in love"
"Vivid imagination high IQ"
"Self esteem in adults and IQ"
Generally speaking, I find people will make jokes about my high IQ or feel threatened by it. Because of this, I hesitate to let others know about it. Most people have a preconceived idea about what it means to have a high IQ and it is nowhere near the truth. I hope that by writing this, there can be a greater understanding among those who read it. Please pass it on!!
Do You Know Your IQ?
Depression & High IQ
Misunderstood, frequently bullied, judged harshly...I think that depression in those with a high IQ results, in large part, from social interaction. I've even been made fun of by my own "friends". Then, there are the boyfriends who broke up with me saying, "I'm not good enough, smart enough, clever enough (or some version of that) for you. You deserve more." Break my heart.
Then, if I deny "who" I am, I get depressed because I'm suppressing an important drive within myself.
Join me on my journey as I continue to learn more about myself and what having a high IQ is all about. Keep checking back for new material.
Scroll down past the promotional posts below to reach the spot where can read and also make comments.
Thanks For Reading
And, give us your take on high IQ, giftedness, or this lens.
© 2011 Nancy Graham
Sign in, Please - If you wish
Gregory Dean on November 16, 2017:
I am 58. I just found out that my IQ is 127! Your article is very interest! I’ve been doing more research lately. My gift is in perceptual organization! I was born with (agenesis of the corpus callosum). I discovered this 10 year ago! Google it!
anonymous on April 15, 2015:
I find this article (along with other articles of similar nature that describe the experiences and lives of High IQ people along with their traits) really interesting, but I have begun wondering myself how IQ and personality of a person are affected. Hear me out.
My whole life (which is not that long, just 17 years) I felt alone and isolated, whether I had friends or not, something that has begun to be mitigated (is that even the correct word? in any case, please do excuse me; english is not my first language/mother tongue). I was always amazed (and who isn't really, when you assign to it names such as Creation, Paradise, Heaven,Hell,Cosmos words with such deep meanings) by the world and sought to understand it in my own way. Meanwhile, I also had a wide range of interests and still have (at first from a really early age I was really interested in politics and then gradually became really interested in history, the sciences,philosophy and other sectors of knowledge).
However, despite the fact that from what I have gathered many of the characteristics of High - IQ people fit with my personality and way of life most of the time (weird sense of humour, innovation, can't stop thinking and oftentimes I sort of "close" myself from outside "transmissions" and start thinking about my own matters. Many other characteristics don't, like blue eye colour, blonde hair or alcocholism/drugs.) I consider myself slow and dumb. My fear of taking an IQ test stems from the fact that I can't bear to see how low the "score" (for which I had nothing to do with as it was mostly biological) will be. I often times feal jealous of people with a high IQ, both those that are recorded by history as great men/women and those who aren't, not because of the legacy and the success that some people associate with the world but because I too want to understand the world. Perhaps I am the exception: the personality of a person that inquires about the world but has not the intellectual capacities to comprehend it. The problem also lies from the fact that perhaps I look up to Mr. Einstein and Hawkins, and I also want to become a theoretical physicist or mathematician, something for which I oftentimes doubt my ability to do.
I sometimes can't help but imagine myself on the other scale of things, being an ignorant person with little to no interests and a rich social life, but that would be hell for me indeed. What should I do? Should I pursuit my interests in all sectors both inside and outside the educational institutions of my countries in a meaningless (because I don't have the biological capacity) effort to understand the world or should I ignore all that and become a mediocore and meaningless existence anyway? I love and want to help people through my work and hobbies (indirectly at least), but I often times feel despair and that I won't be able to do so.
Toby on February 14, 2015:
It is very hard, I agree. Stuck at home.. People don't care or understand global issues unless it's along the lines of simplistic dialogues.."kill the terrorists!" Or some other perceptions on topics that they do not really care to understand or but will support whole-heartedly without even bothering to research the subject themselves, having those beliefs created for them by biased sources with an agenda. I can't be in a conversation without being showered with racist propagated statements beliefs that are supplied by other intellectuals through media, obviously I must disagree with the close mindedness over & over, or they may just be bewildered by what I know & usually do not like threats to their belief systems which by most others are endorsed daily, mostly they don't care & unless the core of these important issues ever glances them personally, without only perhaps trying to understand or deal with the ripples of an issue instead of the stone that was causal to the effect. They will never understand them. It's up to someone else, somewhere else & it's mostly a passing conversational piece if anything, ultimately deemed irrelevant. It's a backwards world, What is the point, yes contemplating these topics excites me & these important topics are very fascinating & complex... Not being able to converse about my thoughts is isolating when faced with ignorant, ill informed & people whom are condescending to those who do care. It sucks
Nick on January 05, 2015:
Glad I found this site. We share similar circumstances. From the grades of k-2 the faculty tried to convince my mother to advance me a grade each year but she always refused. She says it was for my social well being, so I would be around people my own age as I grew. Like you, she told me this when I was a freshmen in high school. I took just sort of, put it out of my mind. What does that even mean to an 14yr old who hates school?Anyways, about 6 months ago I took a test, that my therapist at the VA suggested I take, got a number, that number spiked my curiosity immediately, as they tend to do. I started looking for what it meant, and ended up here, and I must say, I felt a rush when I started reading, then relief that I, in fact, am not an alien or broken, and others deal with these things. Thank you for taking the time to do this.
Nancy Graham (author) on January 02, 2015:
Bah ha ha! If it's crap, why did you bother to go all the way to the comment section and write more crap?
Tristan on December 22, 2014:
Anybody with a high iq wouldn't talk so much crap
jbendler on July 17, 2014:
I'm glad I found this page. It was a good read and helped to validate the feelings I have always had. I am 50 now; and, about to start a new chapter in my life. This new chapter is not related to anything specifically, just a new phase. During this phase I am trying to reconnect with myself. I have become more solitude as I find it increasingly difficult to cope with the mainstream. I try and try to be tolerant of the things I see around me; but, in the end I end up feeling even more alone. I think a positive step would be to research out some chat sites, or pages like this (although, this page doesn't seem to get a lot of action), to try to reach out to like people.
This happened to me in 6th grade:
The teacher decided we were going to play a game to associate the letters of the alphabet with names of animals. When it came my turn, my letter was 'W'. Remembering the National Geographic wildlife show I had watched with my family the night before, I proudly said 'Wildebeast!'. I was so pleased with myself; and, I had really enjoyed watching the show. I was proud that I had learned something and 'knew' it. And, then... The teacher promptly informed me that there was no such animal. I immediately objected! I told her that I had watch the nature show the night before and had just learned of this animal. No dice... She had not heard of it, so it wasn't so!!
That hurt. And, the memory is just as strong today as it was the moment it happened (Obsession not implied).
Do you ever 'know' things; but, you don't know how/why you 'know' it?
kova88 on July 09, 2014:
I find it relieving to find this blog!
It's wonderful, inspiring, deepâ¦perfect!
But I see that loneliness is pointed out in every article. I don't think that it is a bad thing, not at all!
I've never had problems with fitting in because, after embracing me being different (which happened rather early), I've been observing everyone around and by comparison recognised my differences. As I was a child while doing it, I tried really hard to push those differences down, in order to fit in, but in adolescence age I found no more sense in doing it, and decided to be very different in order to grow in a way I thought was the best. There I found my interest in behavioral psychology, and observed all those simple small funny people as a research. In the meanwhile, I found a way to copy and live like everyone else, but turning home as a different person, elaborating everything that took place that dayâ¦
Of course, as a hyper sensible and hyper empathic individual, people loved me back!
Yes, I was lonely, just as I am now, and sometimes I couldn't cope with a fact of having so many sincere friends and lovers and still feel like the loneliest creature on the planet. I found a way of dealing with it since I found out I had a very high IQ. It was comforting enough.
Later on, I was trying to find a way to truly focus my unstopping brain into something useful, without forgetting to feed my soul at the same time. Not with a sensation of success or power, but with finding something greater in everything I do. It works sometimes, and it truly is fulfilling when it does.
Now I find it a compliment if someone gives me 'the eye' in a way of saying "freak!!", 'cause I'm absolutely certain that my conscience is pure, that I'm not wasting my life, and that I'm, not only smarter, but a better person in everything I do.
Being alone gives me TIME to let my brain work in full capacity, and being 'lonely' in a way that people get lonely, gives me free space for my thoughts, without someone else's borders or confines.
It's wonderful being the way we are, it only takes time to find a way to figure it out and embrace it.
I apologise for my funny english, as it's not my first language. I hope I made my point in spite of it.
elutherious on June 18, 2014:
I resonate so much with the comments on this subject. As a child, I was often frustrated when adults and other children could not keep up with my rapid thought processes. I was told I was speaking out of turn, that I had a temper, that I was a smart ass. I became a victim of bullying. My response was to withdraw into my mind and attempt a low profile. In my mid forties, I discovered I had a high IQ. That is when I remembered something that had been said after some testing in grade school, but of course it was believed improper to share test scores with a kid! Yes, I know that all IQ tests are in some way subjective and largely (and unavoidably) culturally biased. I also discovered my short term memory was only high school level, but my other scores were very high. It seems I had learned to compensate for that memory limitation. I went to university and graduate school, and breezed through. I read four to five books a month. Now at age 76, I have decided I will no longer conceal my membership in Mensa (I suppose I came out of the closet!). I keep my eyes and ears open for signs of "above average" children and attempt to assist in some way that will make their lives easier. Despite difficulties in the journey of life, we rise above them. Pax et bonum.
Islandia on March 12, 2014:
@annapolyanna: My heart goes out to you. I did my university degree late in life and graduated just before my 60th birthday. I was able to get a fee help. I am 66 now and only just learning about my above average intelligence, so the degree studies were not just a fluke. I am now doing a self-directed course on literature by Susan Wise Baeur "The Well Education Mind" which means I can do it in my own time at my own pace. There are some free options for study but without the accreditation at university level -
Islandia on March 12, 2014:
@annapolyanna: My heart goes out to you annapolyanna. I discovered I had high IQ and intellectual capabilities recently and I am 66! I did do a degree online though and excelled, graduating on my 60th birthday. Having discovered who I am now I am tackli