There’s a lot of talk out there about what being labeled “gifted” does to some kids as they grow up and age out of the education system. Many of them lament being praised for being smart, since it’s not anything they could ever control, and blame being singled out as a factor in a later lack of success.

If you were a former gifted kid, or you have one in your life (then and now), you might be interested to hear where they are now.

1.  Sounds about right.

Scrolling through reddit making a fake personality with a more impactful and fun life than I will ever live.

2. Some things never change.


the thing about those “gifted” classes is they don’t provide you with any work ethic. as a kids we were just expected to meet the criteria, and we expected it too. now as sh%t gets harder in life, a lot of us procrastinate and slack off.

3. He’s got it right now.

After a long battle with depression and burnout at university, I’ve found repairing electronics to be quite soothing/rewarding. I think mostly, because it’s very clear when a project is done (it was broken, now its not), which really removes the pressure and anxiety of failing to live up to people’s expectations.

I also have a wonderful partner and a very handsome cat.

4. Still learning how to problem solve.

Panic attacks over the idea of failing. “Gifted” children more often than not weren’t taught to work hard because they just ‘naturally got it’, so they grow up not knowing how to problem solve and tackle difficulties in healthy ways and thus are extremely paranoid over the idea of not being the best.

5.  Sounds like he needs a cat.

Failed out of 3 different degrees, went to work at an IT Help Desk from the bottom up and didn’t go back to school until I hit the promotional ceiling.

That’s the professional story, the personal story is a 10+ year battle with varying degrees of depression for the same reason. Honestly the most d**ning one is reviewing all of this s**t and thinking to myself “so many other people have succeeded with much less, what kind of f*ck up gets handed these opportunities and still fails?”

6. He’s still not sure.

Teachers at my school encouraged my parents to have me skip a grade. I wanted to, but my parents said no in the end. I never really tried pushing myself with school after that, but getting valedictorian didn’t seem that hard.

Post college, I have a decent engineering job, but live a very passive life and basically don’t try new things unless I think I can do amazing.

Even playing video games… I tend to, as my friends say, “take a game and beat it into submission” by playing way more hours than others and studying any info I can find from the internet.

I still feel like a failure when I end up playing with someone better than me…

7. Always praise the effort.

I was praised for my intelligence, not my work ethic.

I got lazy as f*****ck.

I’m trying to instill into my children that hard work and practice is more important than being able to figure it out first try. I praise the effort, not the end result. I hope this works out better for them.

8. A fear of failure.

I concur about the failing. I was a weird case where I was considered “smart” and “gifted,” but my grades were absolute s**t. I lost count of the amount of adults that gave me the “you’re not living up to your potential” lecture. My grades were Bs and Cs and I disappointed everybody around me consistently.

Failure is a really hot-button issue for me after so many years of being told that I wouldn’t fail if I would just try harder. I had an experience at work last year where I was passed over for a promotion that I desperately wanted, and it gave me s**cidal thoughts.

Anyway, I was diagnosed with ADHD last summer, and that explained a lot. I fell through the cracks because I’m female, and girls weren’t often diagnosed with ADHD in the 90s/00s. Now I take Adderall and I feel like a normal person.

9. I don’t think this was the goal.

I have major imposter syndrome – I’m terrified of failing and people suddenly no longer deeming me worthy of anything, or thinking I’m not smart enough

10. Oof.

Being the family disappointment. High school left me with severe anxiety and depression from bullying and I dropped out because stress was k**ling me.

But on the bright side I’m in a very loving relationship for the first time in my life and we’re about to move into an actual house together and start a new life, and I never thought I would be here.

11. No one understands.

Graduated 6th in my class in high school, highest ranking senior to drop out.

I have absolutely no intent of ever going back.

Not to say I didn’t stop learning, I love to learn. I just got tired of the games in academia, not to mention I couldn’t afford it even with the scholarships and grants I did get. So I left. I was an English major anyway so I just stopped seeing the point of going and taking classes I didn’t want to take (core classes). I was bored in high school and so disappointed to find college was more of the same but even worse.

So I left. No one understands and always asks me when I’m going back. Yeah…..that’s a no from me.

12. Find your thing.

I went into a profession that is less about being “gifted” and more about being personable.

I studied Funeral Science and all my peers and high school students thought it would be a waste of my time and talents, yet 27 years later, here I am.

I actually own my own Funeral Home where we provide affordable funerals and cremations and enjoy helping others through the rough times in their lives.

13. Please answer the question.

I was “gifted” in elementary school. Looking back, I realize that I was just average in a below average school district lmao.

14. Like a slap in the face.

Went to law school, which I stupidly thought would be a breeze because high school and college were.

Quickly discovered that everyone there was “gifted” and the professors didn’t give a f*ck about our prior achievements or LSAT scores, etc. Had to really work hard for the first time in my academic life and definitely did not breeze through with As.

The first year absolutely sucked since I had to develop actual study skills and couldn’t procrastinate all the time. It was really good for me.

Got through, I’m a partner in my (tiny) firm and I have two “gifted” kids I’m trying to raise to have a better work ethic and study skills than I had.

15. The best of both worlds.

Chemist during the week. Drummer on weekends.

Formulator. 33 years. Beverage, Personal Care, Industrial and Institutional, Pharmaceutical, Herbicide, Pet Care, Wound Care.

16. Success!

I’m a doctor, been aiming for this since I was 10! Finally succeeded 18 months ago.

17. I didn’t expect any of that.

I never went to college and got a factory job right out of HS. I worked as an assembler for 7 months and was promoted to team leader.

I had been dealing with hip problems since I was a kid. 4 years after my promotion I had my 2nd surgery, and could no longer continue working.

We had twin sons, and since I had been home for a couple years at that point, we decided I would be a stay-at-home dad.

When the boys were 3 I had a 3rd surgery that finally fixed me.

Two years later I was severely burned in a brush fire and spent the next year having 4 more surgeries for the burn.

A year and a week after the fire I developed headaches that led to my brain cancer diagnosis.

So now I’m still raising my kids and trying to stay alive.

18. Eh, what’s money?

I’m a librarian. One commonality I’ve noticed across gifted young people is they tend to follow their passions somewhat more than others.

That means going after careers based on what they love to do, more than the pursuit of money.

19. It’s not easy for anyone.

Med school, but I’d say I spend at least half of my current time wondering if the stress/mental health strain is worth it. Still happy though thanks to my wife and son who do everything to support me.

20. It might not be what you’d expect.

This is a great point! My sister was gifted and still is. She’s extremely intelligent and talented at everything she does. School was never her thing though. My parents had to begggg her to finish college.

She now owns a very successful photography business and she’s amazing at it!

21. I want to know more.

homeless for 7 years, you ever see a guy flying a sign and reading, that’s me

22. A little bit of everything.

In high school I was really focused on biology. Then I got to college and the world of humanities existed. I completely forgot about biology and after trying A LOT of other options ended up with a degree in linguistic anthropology.

I went back to school and got a masters in HR (because money), but while I was in school I got a job in a legal department as a contract admin. I H**ED that job, but contracts are pretty fun. So I briefly thought about going back to school to become a paralegal.

Now I’m working with my dad and sister to teach patients about pharmaceutical r&d, but we had to put the business on hold for covid. In the meantime I’m getting back into art…

I’m moving back to the area where I went to school and seriously considering a PhD in medical anthropology. I’m pretty sure I’ll never figure out what I want to be when I grow up (I’m 35).

23. I don’t think it’s meant to be a joke.


24. Not that different.

These threads are always such a creepy schadenfreude fest, but thinking back on what my gifted class is up to now: We had a couple doctors, a couple military officers, several teachers, a few corporate types, some lawyers, and a diplomat.

And I don’t think a single one of us ever fell into the mythical “smart but lazy” burnout stereotype that populates this thread. We worked hard. We’re still working hard.

25. It takes a village (and a lot of effort).

I started school early, went to a private school for gifted kids for two years, went back to public school and was put into an accelerated learning program, skipped a grade.

I barely graduated high school, and dropped out of college with a 1.9 GPA.

I’m currently managing a department of 10-12 people in an industry I love, in a country I didn’t think I’d ever live in. I’ve gotten treatment for my depression/anxiety and a diagnosis for my autism. I have two kids, an amazing spouse, and a very patient therapist.

Before COVID I’d occasionally take lessons in things I loved— metalworking, glassblowing, that kind of thing— just because it was so good for my mental health to have a couple hours a week where it was perfectly okay to fail at something. It’s one of the things I look forward to most once the pandemic is under control.

26. As long as it’s interesting.

There were only 4 of of us in my gifted classes, a geologist for a mining company, teacher, insurance salesman.

Last, but certainly not least, I took the construction management route.

You want a challenging job?

Deal with the ego of architects and the indecision of clients and toss in 20 subcontractors who’s grasp of English is flexible.

27. The money…

I have a job that I 1000% h**e but pays well. It’s like a billion hours a week plus stress. Going into this s**t I was like “this will totally be worth it”. Now I’m realizing it’s totally not worth it. I wish I had a normal 8-5 that paid 75% of what I currently make.

I just want to not be stressed off my a** and in a constant state of survival at work. Like I just realized that I spend 10-11 hours every day just totally f*cking miserable and stressed out. Idk how much longer I can do it.

I’m scared to look for a new job cause I took this job in a field that I don’t have a degree in. Idk, I’ll probably delete this later but my god do we work too much in this country

28. That’s all that matters.

I joined the charity sector and ‘wasted’ all that potential on a cause that means something to me.

And I’m very happy with my decision.

29. Gifted not exceptional.

Was considered gifted from an early age. Coasted and still did well through middle school and fine (not great) in high school. Got into a decent college, but still didn’t really know how to work off of anything other than raw intelligence.

Went to a good law school and it kicked my tail, but did fine. It was in law school that I realized that although I was considered gifted when I was young, I was not exceptional. The world had caught up to me. I’m currently a practicing attorney with a fulfilling career, but otherwise just another face in the crowd.

I have a child who is currently considered gifted and is off the charts on all things academic. I’m constantly reminding him that hard work mixed with his intelligence is an unassailable combination, while simultaneously trying to remember to let him just be a kid. I hope he gets it.

30. Passion matters.

I had the super fun experience of being a gifted kid while ALSO living with severe ADHD. I never learned how to study because I never had to, and whenever I tried to I simply was not able. The only things that actually calmed my brain down were theatre and music, but in an attempt to avoid “wasting my potential”, I applied to a really good university for an engineering degree. I ended up getting in, having an existential crisis, then taking a year off to figure my life out.

I’m now in my third year of my Drama degree and I literally could not be happier. I know for a fact that I would not have had the focus to stick with an engineering degree, because even though I have an innate affinity for math and the sciences, I’m just not passionate about either.

When I don’t like something, I feel physically unable to sit down and do it.

I’m kind of glad I was never chosen now, to be honest.

If you were, share with us what you’re doing now, too!