Not Loud, But Proud: How Giftedness, Creativity, and Introversion Helped Me Find My Way

By Melody Yourd.

Age 8:

I’m in the backseat of my mom’s Volvo. A Beatles cassette is playing over the stereo, and I have my cheek resting against my seatbelt; my gaze drifts out the window at the passing scenery. But I can feel my eyes going out of focus as I start to I pay less and less attention to my surroundings, and slip into something that’s becoming a safe and happy place for me: my own mind.

I start to think about all the fun things in life, the warm and nostalgic things, the things that make my intense childhood mind flare with joy. The green grass and sunlight at my kindergarten “graduation” in the park. The texture of flour and scent of sugar as my grandmother helps us cut cookie dough into the shape of Christmas trees. The way raindrops make little ripples in puddles on chilly wet days. The red comforting walls of my family’s cabin, surrounded by towering trees older than time; the sliding glass door foggy from the heater in the morning, the deck doused in cool shadow and shaded in redwood needles.

I love thinking about these things so much—I love it in a way I can’t put into words. I just love reflecting on them. Absorbing myself in the thoughts of them.

Vaguely, I’m aware that we’re almost at school, and I’ll have to try to engage my mind in another boring day. But I don’t want that. I just want to stay in the car, and keep thinking, forever.

Age 10:

One day, my teacher keeps me inside during recess to talk to me. “Why don’t you have that many friends?” she asks. “You’re such a talented, good-natured kid. Why do I always see you spending time alone?”

I’m confused at her concern, because I honestly hadn’t thought about it. It’s true, I don’t have many friends. It’s my first year at this new school and everyone in my class already knows each other. But I have two good friends who also went to my old school; I play with them at recess. And at home I have my sister, too. I’d never really thought that having only them was a bad thing.

I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but I leave the classroom feeling shaken. I don’t learn much from that teacher that year, but that one thing sticks in my mind: she thinks there’s something wrong with me.

Age 12:

My fourteen-year-old sister does not understand my habit of going off in my own world when we’re all in the car together. She jabbers away with our mom in the front seat, while I imagine movie scenes to the music we’re listening to, or otherwise think about the stories I’m writing or the books I’m reading. (If I wasn’t likely to get carsick, I’d be reading those books in the car, too.)

“What do you think, Mel?” my sister asks, in the middle of one of their conversations. I blink and try to recall what they were talking about. “MEL,” she shouts, trying to get my attention.

“I wasn’t listening.”

“Why not?!”

She doesn’t get it. Even when I try to listen to their conversation, my mind grows antsy, ready to burst from the noise of it all. I need that time in the car, especially after school, to focus on my own thoughts for awhile. I need it like I need to breathe.

Age 14:

I’m in the most boring elective class I have ever taken: graphic arts. We get occasional art assignments, which I complete the day they’re given. Other than that, kids have free reign of the classroom while the teacher grades homework and works on lesson plans for his core classes.

My classmates mostly ignore me in this class, thankfully. But being around them sometimes is painful, even if they don’t torment me. Watching the way they laugh and obnoxiously try break school rules in class, hearing their inane jokes for over an hour nonstop, unable to escape… it grinds at me.