By Joseph Hughes & Holly Hughes.
They always said he was one of the brightest kids in the class. Right before they sent him to the principal’s office.
“I didn’t grow up gifted, at least not by name. I grew up being asked what was wrong with me.” Joseph Hughes, age 19
Joseph Hughes once read more than 1,000 books to win a first grade contest. A high achiever, they all said.
In elementary school, he’d complete class assignments – perfectly – before the other kids. But he’d quickly find himself in trouble for having done it before the teacher even reviewed the instructions. Impulsive, they all said.
A math whiz, Joe could quickly solve the toughest problems. But he got F after F, simply because he wouldn’t show his work properly. A non-conformist, they all said.
And that’s when the wheels on Joe’s life began to wobble.
His intellect far exceeded most of those around him, including some of his teachers.
Unfortunately, it also far exceeded his emotional development.
Joe became an outcast among his peers, and a struggle for his teachers. He got down on himself, wondering why he was always wrong, just because he saw things differently. His pain was deep and profound, eroding both his confidence and his motivation. Which made school, and learning, a horrible torture.
It was only in high school that Joe was “diagnosed” as gifted, a label neither he nor his parents were initially eager to embrace. While others assumed that “gifted” meant compliant and high-achieving, Joe came to understand that not only did he have a desire to do things very differently, he had a burning need.
At about 16, Joe’s parents discovered SENG – Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted.
“It was like walking through a portal into an amazing new world,” Joe’s mom, Holly, said. For the Hughes family, SENG became “the best repository of information on the topic, especially the human side,” Holly remembers. From books and articles, to networking opportunities, to supportive conferences, SENG helped the Hughes family make sense of the inexplicable.
Speaking of portals into strange new lands, Joe completed his GED, entered college, and is publishing a 520-page fantasy fiction novel he first outlined in the sixth grade. Armorica is the story of a land “on the brink of destruction, held at the throat by daemons and their cohorts.”
Sounds like a place with which Joseph Hughes might have some familiarity.
Here is Joe’s story, in his own words:
Through His Eyes…
By Joseph Hughes.
Hello. My name is Joseph Hughes, and I am 19 years old. You are probably asking, “Who are you, and why am I bothering to read this article?” Well, to begin with, the fact that you are reading this publication probably means you care about or are interested in the gifted.
I didn’t grow up gifted, at least not by name. I grew up being asked what was wrong with me. People treated me like I was an idiot, at least that’s how it felt to me. I had the “privilege” of going to private schools where “everyone is gifted.” And I was the misfit because I would not do what they wanted the way they wanted. The world I grew up in had no idea what giftedness looks like—unless it is compliant and achievement focused. In me, all they saw was a problem kid who needed to be properly disciplined or given pills for ADHD. This did not work so well.