Asynchrony: In which two or more things have failed to synchronize. Occurrence at different times.
For me, and for other gifted and twice-exceptional young adults, it is asynchrony in our development which turns our abilities into challenges. It is when several aspects of ourselves are in different places, leaving us in a constant state of tug-of-war. My observation is that executive function tends to lag behind, learning ability shoots way ahead, and emotional regulation requires control to prevent it from swinging back and forth like a pendulum. Sensory processing, motor skills, and social skills vary. This can lead to some awkward situations.
Imagine a six-year-old who, out of concern for the planet, wants to start their own society (and invent a new language) that is vegetarian, doesn’t drink or smoke, and lives in perfect harmony with other animals… and tries to force all their friends to join, but can’t understand why nobody shares her passion.
Or an eight-year-old who throws a tantrum because the other kids won’t follow the rules in an historically accurate version of playing house.
Or a twelve-year-old who plays with their dolls all day and spends the evening deep in conversation with adults about policy and politics. And after bedtime (11:15pm, like clockwork), needs to spend time addressing her personal angst with a very tired mother in order to fall asleep.
Asynchrony doesn’t suddenly start, and it doesn’t magically go away. However, I went most of my childhood disregarding of it, because it didn’t seem important. I was a homeschooler, I had lots of support, and many of my friends were like me in that way. It wasn’t until I started college that I really felt the significance of it.
I was a thirteen-year-old college student whose mom sat outside my classroom for most of the first year. I was incredibly shy, had limited study skills, and only spoke to my professors, but I had to have the academic challenge. (Nothing like insisting on being allowed into a situation to learn what was needed!)
I was a fourteen-year-old who befriended a professor and started tentatively reaching out to other students, but had shaky social skills. (Thank goodness for adults who were willing to help, and students who kept an open mind!)
I was a fifteen-year-old who couldn’t organize deadlines on my own to save my life, but who desperately wanted to be able to drive myself to school and be a “normal” college student. (Thank goodness for disability resources, and for friends with cars!)
I was a sixteen-year-old climate activist who wanted to be taken seriously by adults who saw my chronological age… and only my chronological age. (Thank goodness for the opportunities I did have to express myself and to make a difference!)
I was a seventeen-year-old college graduate (cum laude!) who felt deeply the societal wrongs I saw around me, but wasn’t old enough to apply for the jobs I really wanted. (Thank goodness for alternatives to the traditional career path!)
I am an eighteen-year-old who is finally legally able to get a job, but whose executive function challenges still work against me. I take on professional responsibilities, I teach other students, I organize events, I work with others who respect me and see me as an equal and a great resource… but I am so sensitive that I fall apart emotionally when my cat goes in for routine dental work.
Academically, graduate school still isn’t very challenging. I want to learn more, broader, deeper. I want to learn ALL the things! Professionally, I have an impressive resume, but I never feel like I’m doing enough to make the world a better place. Socially, I sometimes feel like I have the skills of an elementary school kid in the world of adults. Imposter syndrome: the direct result of asynchrony. Because if I can’t figure out how old I am or what I can do on a consistent basis, then all of those kudos and accomplishments can’t be real. Can they?
I’m many ages all at once. That’s asynchrony. It’s awkward.
This post is part of the GHF Blog Hop: Perfectionism and Other Gifted/2e Quirks. Read more posts like this!