Navigating Intensity Through a Cultural Lens
In this episode of the Embracing Intensity Podcast, host Aurora interviews Kaitlin Smith, a scholar, facilitator, and founder of Our Wild Minds. Kaitlin shares her journey as a gifted BIPOC individual, her work in supporting gifted adults, and her research on the history of mind sciences. Join Aurora and Kaitlin as they explore the intersections between intensity, cultural dynamics, and personal growth.
In this interview, Aurora and Kaitlin delve into Kaitlin’s experiences as a gifted BIPOC individual, the challenges she faced growing up, and the cultural factors that affected her self-expression. They discuss how Kaitlin uses her intensity to make a positive impact and navigate the complex dynamics of the workplace. Kaitlin also shares her insights on harnessing the power of intensity and helping others do the same through her community platform, Our Wild Minds.
Join Aurora and Kaitlin as they delve into the complexities of intensity and its transformative potential in this thought-provoking episode of the Embracing Intensity Podcast.
In this episode:
- Kaitlin’s journey as a scholar, facilitator, and founder of Our Wild Minds.
- The intersections between the history of mind sciences and African American studies in Kaitlin’s research.
- The challenges Kaitlin faced growing up in a predominantly white suburb and the conflicting expectations placed upon her as a gifted Black individual.
- The impact of cultural dynamics on expression and the pressure to conform to societal expectations.
- How Kaitlin uses her fire for good through various roles, including her work as a PhD student, teaching fellow, and community builder.
- The importance of clarity, deprogramming, and prioritizing values in harnessing the power of intensity.
- Kaitlin’s insights on creating space for connection, introspection, learning, manifestation, and giving back through Our Wild Minds.
- The empowering message that it’s never too late to embrace authenticity and live a life aligned with your true self.
* Rough Transcript *
The Struggle of Being Gifted
Kaitlin: I was also aware that I was not really allowed to be so gifted that I threatened their self concepts. Which is to say that I wasn’t really encouraged or allowed to be my full self. But I was rather Being asked to act as a kind of instrument or one dimensional trophy for other people. And I found that it’s really hard to live inside such suffocating and dehumanizing expectations.
But in adulthood, I have come to understand that I don’t actually need to be beholden to such expectations.
Aurora: Welcome to the Embracing Intensity podcast. I’ll be sharing interviews and tips for gifted, creative, twice exceptional, and outside the box thinkers who use their fire in a positive way. My name is Aurora Remember Holtzman. After years of feeling too much, I finally realized that intensity is the source of my greatest power.
Now, instead of beating myself up about not measuring up to my own self imposed standards, I’m on a mission to help people embrace their own intensity and befriend their brains so they can share their gifts with the world through the Embracing Intensity community, coaching, educational assessment, and other tools to help you use your fire without getting burned.
You can join us at embracingintensity. com.
About this episode
Aurora: Hello, keeping up with two episodes a month. I also just released the newest thing in my neurodivergent planner club, a neurodivergent relationship journal with 52 prompts specifically to navigate the unique challenges of neurodivergent relationships. You can find the link in the show notes or under memberships on the embracing intensity website.
We had a wonderful start to our 2024 speaker season with Dr. Kimberly Douglas, and our next call will be on February 17th with Christine Fonseca on Emotional Intensity as she releases her new edition of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students, which is available now.
Getting back into the interview episodes with the wonderful Caitlin Smith, MSW. Caitlin is a Boston based scholar, facilitator, and founder of Our Wild Minds, which offers online community and programs that help gifted BIPOC unleash their natural gifts. Caitlin is also a PhD student at Harvard in History of Science, where her research interrogates the history of mind sciences and Intersections with African American Studies.
Aurora: Welcome to Embracing Intensity. Today is my first interview in, I think, a year. Because I took some time off to do just one a month. And I’m picking back up to twice a month so that I can get more interviews in because I have all these awesome people that I want to talk to. And one of them is Caitlin Smith.
Caitlin reached out to me last school year about some wonderful work she’s doing with Black gifted adults, and I was excited to have her on the show, but dealing with all the burnout and all of that stuff, we just didn’t get around to it.
So, she reached out to me just about the time I was about to reach out to her, and I’m really excited to have her. So, welcome Caitlin!
Kaitlin: Thank you so much, Aurora. I’m so excited to have this conversation with you.
Aurora: Yeah, super glad to have you and glad to finally make this connection.
Aurora: So tell me a little bit about yourself and what you are intensely passionate about.
Kaitlin: Oh, goodness.
Well, I am a Boston based scholar, writer, and facilitator. I run a small company called Our Wild Minds, which is dedicated to supporting gifted BIPOC adults, so that’s Black, Indigenous, and people of color. And I Currently run an online community and an online course for gifted black adults in particular that’s focused on helping people befriend and operationalize their natural gifts.
In addition to that, I’m also a PhD student at Harvard University in the history of science, where I’m studying the history of mind sciences and its intersections with African American studies. And I also write creative nonfiction much of which is on nature related themes. And then I run a smaller business called Storied Grounds, through which I offer digital learning tools and very occasional educational events that draw upon my background as a public humanist, naturalist ecotherapist, and herbalist.
So those are the, those are some of the hats that I’m wearing at this moment in time. Awesome. Yeah, and those are some of the things that I’m intensely passionate about.
Aurora: Awesome. So definitely multi potentialate.
Guest’s Personal Brand of Intensity
Aurora: So tell me a little bit about your own personal brand of intensity. What does intensity look like in your world?
Kaitlin: Intensity. Goodness, let’s see. Well, I’m, I would describe myself as very intellectual and also very existential people who know me well often remark upon that aspect of my personality. I’m also strongly connected to spirituality and intuition. I would also say that I am highly introspective.
And I’m also very curious about other people’s inner worlds. I will also say that my life revolved around professional dance training when I was growing up. And really until I sustained a pretty serious injury that I experienced. vial dancing. And I ultimately struggled to recover from that injury after a number of years of rehabilitation.
Despite all of that though, I feel that I’ve always been someone who’s highly activated in the kinesthetic and musical arenas. And Yeah, I would say that those are some of the ways in which my intensity shows up.
Guest’s Childhood and Schooling
Aurora: And talking about growing up with the dance piece, how else do you think your intensity affected you growing up?
Kaitlin: Let’s see. There’s so much to say about that. If I think back to my, my upbringing, I began school very young when I was two years old, I started Montessori school, and I was in a mixed age classroom in which I was able to engage largely in self directed learning which was really very Good for me.
I think I really enjoyed being in an environment in which I could kind of call the shots about what I was doing and why I was doing it. But things kind of shifted when I had to start attending more of a conventional public school at which point I ended up being accelerated and was also identified as gifted and then began participating in the talented and gifted program.
And that was sort of like a significant shift in my life and experience. Because I was suddenly in an environment that was not a multi age environment or wasn’t intended to be. And I was, younger and physically smaller than my classmates.
Experiences with Bullying
Kaitlin: So I experienced a lot of bullying and there were some other reasons that were unrelated to like intensity and giftedness that, that were shaping those dynamics.
For example, I was Very involved in entertainment when I was a kid, and I did modeling and acting and dancing as well, and attracted a lot of attention that was positive, but then there was negative attention as well because kids can struggle with cattiness and such, and adults do too, but yeah, a lot of tricky dynamics there and yeah, I’ll, I guess I’ll just leave it at that where elementary school is concerned.
I think that in middle school. One of the highlights for me was that I had an incredible black English teacher who is definitely gifted and was a wonderful role model to me.
Reflecting on High School Experiences and Racism
Kaitlin: And then I think moving into high school I participated in a lot of advanced placement and honors classes and in those spaces I I would say that it was at that time in my life that I began to Think more consciously about the role of racism in my everyday experience.
And at that time in my life, I was typically in predominantly white classrooms. I grew up in a predominantly white suburb, though there was and is a sizable black minority in that place in Ohio is where I’m from. And I was just around peers who felt the need to comment on my race regularly and that was quite challenging and those remarks about race were often connected to people’s sentiments about giftedness, so I didn’t necessarily think about it in those terms at the time.
For example, I once had a teacher in high school who told me that. She couldn’t believe that I wrote a paper that I submitted to her because of how sophisticated the language and concepts were. So a lot to unpack there, but that’s just a snapshot. At the same time, I was also really fortunate to have an incredible teacher in high school who is He’s ultra gifted and has also contributed to the field of creativity studies and gifted education as a scholar, even though his formal role in the school was teaching French.
Navigating Microaggressions in Education
Kaitlin: And I consider that to be a really, really, really significant relationship and that helped me get through what was a challenging period of time. Yeah, and then I have a lot of reflections around, what it was like for me to be intense in the particular ways that I’m intense in college and graduate school but maybe I’ll pause here in case you’d like to respond to what I said.
Aurora: Yeah, it’s interesting mentioning kind of growing up in a mostly white suburb. That’s one of the things in the area that I live in and work in is, you know, it’s a suburb near Portland and so it’s not the most diverse of areas, but yeah someone brought up, the comment of being articulate, and how that was a microaggression, and it made sense to me at the time, like, I hadn’t thought about it, but I was like, oh, yeah, I guess that makes sense, especially if it’s in the context of being surprised. So that’s something that I definitely have been much more aware of as I, navigate that, because for me, it’s never a surprise,
it’s because I’m in the gifted world. So it’s like when you notice someone who has those traits, it has nothing to do with that. But yeah, it’s an interesting thing to navigate in a school. Especially the one I’m in now is more of an alternative project based school. And so there’s a lot of gifted and neurodiverse folks there.
So, that’s been kind of a fun change.
Oh, that’s awesome.
Cultural Factors Affecting Self-Expression
Aurora: So you’ve already kind of touched on this but were there any specific cultural factors that affected how you expressed yourself?
Kaitlin: Yeah, I would definitely say so hmm, when I’m thinking back about my experience as a child and as an adolescent there are a few, I guess, dynamics that come to mind. One has to do with the internal politics of the Black community. In which it’s common for people to say things to one another about quote unquote talking white or acting white. And this, I guess, relates to what you were just saying about being articulate, quote unquote I think for all kinds of reasons that are really complicated and I think too numerous to unpack fully in our conversation here when a black person speaks in ways that depart from stereotype and certain people’s expectations.
It can elicit all kinds of reactions that are ultimately driven by racism, and that can be internalized racism that, that black people, you know, that we can hold within ourselves. And that can also like arise from outside. But definitely that notion that, you know, you’re talking white or you’re acting white just by, using that multi syllabic word just now, or like reflecting upon the work of a philosopher or whatever it is that departs from expectation could be held up as evidence of someone being a race traitor or someone engaging in some sort of deceptive performance.
So that’s definitely one thing.
Navigating Racial Stereotypes and Expectations
Kaitlin: I also had a number of really challenging experiences where some of my predominantly white peers would basically intimate that I was not really Black, either. Because, again, of this way in which I departed from whatever they imagined Blackness to be, like real Blackness.
And it was just striking that You know, people would say things to me, like, white people, like, but you’re not really black, and they would mean it as a compliment and not have any apparent insight into the implications of that, how harmful that was yeah. So I think that just having my, the way that I communicate and just my way of being constantly held up as evidence of something or another that said something about me and the way that I’m constituted as a racial being.
And also just about the Black community at large was a lot of pressure and really complicated and yeah. So, that’s another thing. And and then maybe a third. area in which I see cultural factors as having shaped my experience of giftedness growing up is I think about having grown up in the Rust Belt region of the U. S.
I grew up in the Rust Belt region of the United States in Cleveland, Ohio, Greater Cleveland, in a community that was, I would say, predominantly Blue collar and middle class, and I think that’s both a region and also just like a like a cultural space in which a lot of people don’t take kindly to anything that they perceive as upper class or uppity in any way, so if someone is, you know, if there’s a kid who has a larger than usual vocabulary and Can speak authoritatively on various subjects and people aren’t expecting that.
Navigating Cultural and Racial Expectations
Kaitlin: And also she’s black. That was a challenging combination and a lot of situations both in the community and in my family too. So there are a lot of dynamics to unpack and try to navigate Yeah, so I could say more about the family dynamics, but I don’t know where you would like to go.
Aurora: Oh yeah, well, and it’s funny what you were talking about, the dynamic of on the one hand, being accused of not being Black enough because of your intellectual pursuits, but then also being in a culture where the white people are not. Also not, you know, accepting of those intellectualism either.
So it’s kind of ironic that people would accuse you of one thing when actually it’s like totally counter to that culture.
Kaitlin: Yeah, yeah, exactly. There were just a lot of conflicting elements converging and it was challenging to assert myself in that environment without. Being, I don’t know dehumanized in some sense at every turn.
Aurora: Yeah. Well, looking at the future questions, you mentioned the family dynamics and I think this would be as good a time as any to, to get into that if you’d like.
Kaitlin: Yeah. When I think about family dynamics and this question of cultural forces one of the things that I was aware of growing up was that in many ways, my strengths and giftedness provided some of my family members with A sense of identity or worth that they didn’t necessarily have otherwise.
The Challenges of Being Gifted
Kaitlin: But I was also aware that I was not really allowed to be so gifted that I threatened their self concepts. Which is to say that I wasn’t really encouraged or allowed to be my full self. But I was rather Being asked to act as a kind of instrument or one dimensional trophy for other people.
And I found that it’s really hard to live inside such suffocating and dehumanizing expectations. But in adulthood, I have come to understand that I don’t actually need to be beholden to such expectations. And that I’m actually not responsible for other people’s emotional states. That realization has been truly indispensable to me.
And it’s really helped me move into a life phase in which I’m much better able to express myself fully and use my fire for good as you say on your podcast sometimes.
Understanding Giftedness as a Culture
Kaitlin: And one other thing that comes to mind around family dynamics is and that I think can be conceptualized as. A cultural difference even is just the challenges that arise from having a family in which there are people with vastly different thinking styles.
I recall encountering the notion in one book I read on giftedness that you can conceptualize giftedness as a culture. Which I think is a framework that has both strengths and limitations, but I have found it useful for just trying to make sense of what my family dynamic was like when I was growing up.
One of the things that I’ve found is that some of my relatives are, and just people around me in general are really connected to the here and the now and not so comfortable with say metaphor and symbolism and anything that’s. super meta or philosophical. Unfortunately that stuff is kind of my bread and butter and where I sort of exist.
Naturally, and what feels most meaningful to me generally. So there’s been a basic barrier to understanding that’s just kind of ever present, but also very, very difficult to address and even make legible to folks I’m engaging in conversation.
The Challenges of Communicating with Different Thinking Styles
Kaitlin: And I remember one particular example, one particular instance in which I tried to share a film that I really love with one of my relatives.
Who was really adamant about wanting to have a closer relationship with me. However, that person became pretty angry, like irate actually. After we watched it together in a movie theater. Believing that I was essentially making fun of them and talking down to them. Just in sharing it with them.
And this person also didn’t express any curiosity about you know, what that thing that I was sharing might have meant to me. Or. Just really anything about it beyond the kind of immediate visceral reaction and so no meaningful discussion followed really but the situation did reveal for me the importance of differentiating between people who speak your language and people who just don’t, And also that, that includes people who may have no idea of the extent to which they don’t for any number of reasons, including their own thinking styles, trauma and also ways in which gifted people often overfunction in relationships to avoid being attacked.
So for me, that looked like sometimes mirroring other people, empathizing with other people and not really showing up fully in ways that would make it evident to them that, oh, this person has an inner world that maybe I don’t know very much about or whatever. But those for me were some of the learnings that come to mind when I think about growing up in my family and that there was kind of an element of cultural difference present there that, that relates to giftedness.
Minds Like Crayons
Aurora: Yeah, totally. And that reminds me of, I can’t remember where it was, but I saw some analogy of like crayon boxes and how someone who has a box of a hundred crayons and someone who has a box of like five, you know, trying to explain something, when they don’t have that.
They just don’t have that same full capacity of understanding because their crayon boxes, you know, they just can’t even conceive of these other colors. And I kind of like that analogy.
Kaitlin: Yeah, I find that useful.
Appreciating Unique Strengths and Capacities
Kaitlin: And I also in thinking about that metaphor, I also just think about some folks in my family and other people I know who are just so masterful in, You know, in their areas of strength and where I think about some of my limitations I don’t think I mentioned this earlier, but though I don’t identify as ADHD or autistic, I am aware that I have struggled with elements of executive function over time and sometimes my thoughts and my inspiration are just leading me in so many directions that it’s very stimulating for me, but it can also be It means that I’m not able to be as efficient in certain types of roles as some other people I know who are who just operate differently.
And that includes some of my family members who may have more of that kind of mode. So I, I think that taking a deeper dive into. Literature around giftedness has also helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the unique strengths and capacities that other people in my life bring to the table that, that I don’t have.
And that’s been really helpful too.
Aurora: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that with that color analogy too, that some people may have different set of colors. It’s not necessarily that they have less.
You already kind of touched on this, but tell me a little bit more about how you might have tried to tone yourself down or tune yourself out.
Challenges in the Workplace
Kaitlin: Oh, my goodness. I think One other particular environment in which I have engaged in that kind of behavior has definitely been the workplace. And let’s see, I had a really challenging dynamic with a particular boss in which I feel that this person was really uncomfortable having you know, a smart woman around him.
And there were, I think, a bunch of like challenging dynamics converging in this situation. But this particular boss was a white guy who would randomly quiz me on various topics in black studies that are one of my areas of specialization but that he knew almost nothing about. And when I confronted him about, how I felt about how I was being treated unfairly and not given sufficient support he actually sexualized my anger instead of taking it seriously.
So that’s just one example of bullying and other problematic dynamics in workplace situations. But I’ve had a lot of experiences that have made it clear to me that You know, this particular workplace may not be a space in which I am really valued as a human, and in which my contributions are not really regarded as legitimate or are too threatening to other people around me for one reason or another, that it just can’t be tolerated.
I also, I’ve just had a lot of experiences with like being bullied by bosses and colleagues and making the decision to invest less in showing up in that space in certain ways. I suppose though that one positive outcome of this is that those experiences have prompted me.
Turning Negative Experiences into Positive Outcomes
Kaitlin: In the past to work on various entrepreneurial projects. That helped me regain my creative fire and my sense of agency over myself and the way that I use my voice. And that helped me ultimately make strides away from those spaces and into my current chapter. Where I’m operating within institutions and outside of them at the same time and enjoying that combination and enjoying the sense of possibility and sovereignty ultimately that comes from not being solely reliant on one employer that may or may not, you know, continue to honor me and offer me respect as time goes on.
Aurora: Yeah, it definitely helps to have an outlet.
Challenging Experiences in Psychotherapy Training
Kaitlin: A story that I haven’t shared that I think is really important to my gifted story and also the development of the business that I’m now running was something that I experienced when I was training to become a psychotherapist.
This is about 10 years ago now. I was working on a master’s in clinical social work and I, I had this watershed moment in which I was speaking with one of my advisors at the time. And in short, she this for me is kind of like the ultimate moment in which I was being asked to tone myself down and be something that I’m not.
This individual concluded that I was not only too intellectual to be a psychotherapist, but that I was also too intellectual to be a mentally, psychologically healthy black woman because in her imagination a black woman who is behaving authentically and is keeping it real, quote unquote doesn’t show up in the ways that I do, physically, verbally, whatever, in every way.
And. More than that, she concluded that the way that I am, the way that I communicate, the way that I think, et cetera, were all manifestations of me trying to differentiate myself from other black people and, like, seem like I’m not black. So there were, there’s so much to unpack there. There’s so many layers of racism and just so many problematic assumptions operating with one another in what that person had to say to me.
Barriers of Expectations
Kaitlin: But it was. It was a really, really challenging experience and one of the reasons it was hard was that this person also decided that she wouldn’t be comfortable allowing me to graduate from this particular master’s program if I could not somehow align my way of being with what she imagined to be the right way for a black woman to act.
Specifically, she told me that I didn’t seem angry enough and she thought I should be more angry. Yeah so anyway, as you might imagine, it’s a very long story, a lot more than I can share right now, but that to me was a highly formative moment in which I found myself being asked to tone myself down and deny my own humanity and the, just the basic truths of my being and not just because this person thought that was good, but also because the implication was that this is what you need to do in order to become a legitimate professional in this field, who can use yourself as an instrument to support others.
Turning Negative Experiences into Positive Outcomes
Kaitlin: So after that experience, I ended up going on a journey to deconstruct what happened there and come to terms with how I could translate that experience into something that could be useful to other people. And there are a lot of different chapters and that process. But I would say that, after many years passed, I eventually realized that I was ready to go back to graduate school, which I’m now doing and I am now inspired to use some of my various forms of intensity to hopefully produce research that can be useful to other people who have found themselves ensnared by such constraining expectations and, in my view, just an utterly painful experience.
Narrow conception of consciousness and yeah, the brilliance that that exists throughout the natural world and that is reflected and in all kinds of people and other life forms. So I’m really inspired by that. And so that unfortunate experience of being asked to be radically different than I am ended up being really really formative and it sort of set me on my current course in a strange way.
Aurora: Yeah. Well, I’m glad you’re back on that track.
Managing Intensity and Focus in Work
Aurora: So tell me about a time when you felt like maybe your intensity got out of control or at least felt out of control for you.
Kaitlin: Oh, goodness. I can think of a lot of instances in which I’ve kind of gone down a rabbit hole while working on a particular project and allowed Too much time to pass.
And then like, I may hyper fixate on a particular detail that may not really be mission critical, but I, I become sort of stimulated by the process of learning more about that thing or expanding upon whatever that is. And then. Next thing I know, hours have passed and I have run out of time to bring the whole project to completion or whatever needs to happen.
So I experienced those kinds of situations more than I care to admit, and I’m trying to learn and learn to implement strategies that can help me Not do that so much, or at least work more with my strengths and not against them. So one of the things that I do that seems to help me with this is getting up at the crack of dawn to tackle certain projects and having, like, really stringent deadlines so that I simply can’t go off in a million directions.
Yeah, so that seems to be helpful to me.
Facing Mortality During COVID-19
Kaitlin: I can also think of a situation that I don’t think of as negative, so maybe it’s not like a an out of control moment in the negative sense, but a moment in which I am aware that my intensity took me in directions that are pretty unusual. And in short, I got COVID in in the, I guess at the end of 2020.
Though I didn’t end up in the hospital, it ended up being a fairly bad case. At one point I was concerned that I might not survive. And I Contacted my doctor and hospitals and they told me don’t come in if you can still breathe which I interpreted to mean, you know, we really don’t have capacity.
So you’re on your own. So, I ended up just sitting in my, my, or laying in my bed that particular night and thinking, you know, I may not wake up in the morning. And that was really challenging to say the least. And because I was isolated in my apartment and didn’t have anyone around me.
Knowing You’re Not Alone
I just remember when I began contemplating, okay, you know, I may not wake up in the morning. This may be the end for me in this body. I ended up watching the film The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman.
I don’t know if you’re like a like an arthouse film person, but that particular film is a kind of like a classic work of cinema, and it’s set during the time of the Black Death, and Death itself is personified as a man who follows these various characters around, and anyway, I think of that film as being sort of like a classic work of art that engages with this universal issue of, like, facing one’s demise and I think because I was so alone in facing this particular challenge, I wanted to feel less alone in it and feel connected to other human beings confronting this, like, universal existential dilemma.
Kaitlin: And it seemed very natural to me to do this, but I’ve noticed since that when I’ve shared this story with people in my life, they’re kind of like, Whoa, why would you do that to yourself? But to me, it helps me feel better. I felt like, well, everyone passes through this door and in engaging with this this work of art that to some people may seem really abstract and hyper intellectual and divorced from feelings, it Allowed me to feel more seen and more connected to something bigger in the midst of immense isolation.
Aurora: Yeah, I could see that.
Using Fire for Good
Aurora: So, shifting gears a bit, tell me a little bit about how you use your fire for good.
Kaitlin: Oh my let’s see. Well, I think I mentioned briefly that I do some writing, creative nonfiction writing. That’s something that I truly enjoy. I also use my fire as a PhD student and soon to be teaching fellow at my university.
I also serve as a research assistant and explore various topics related to the history of medicine and slavery. And. Yeah, I enjoy being able to follow my curiosity in the context of that that role. I also convene an event series at my university related to black critical thought. Which is kind of like an interdisciplinary arena that spans a number of different scholarly fields.
And that’s been a really stimulating space in which I really enjoyed bringing people together across different departments to explore the richness and also analytical utility of the critical insights that black people, black scholars have generated over time. And then. I would say that one final way that I’m using my fire for good now is that I as I mentioned earlier, I run this business called Our Wild Minds in which I’m gathering Black gifted adults together to share our experiences and network and ultimately create.
An infrastructure in which I hope other people won’t have to sort of suffer alone in the ways that I did you know, in the particular scenario that I was describing earlier. So those are some of the ways.
Harnessing the Power of Intensity
Aurora: What do you think has helped you the most with harnessing the power of your intensity?
Kaitlin: What has helped me the most? Let’s see. I think getting very clear about my top goals and values has been the most important thing. And then being willing to cut everything that interferes with those things out of my life. Including social relationships and kind of like, less than substantive social interactions that I just don’t find meaningful.
I found that in being willing to eliminate those things, I have so much more time and energy available to, to devote to what actually matters to me. I’ve also found that Being able to do that has required that I devote a lot of time and energy to deprogramming from various social expectations, especially those that are placed on women in particular specifically the expectation to constantly be available to other people, constantly be nice and constantly engage in caretaking behavior with other people so, in doing that, it’s really helped me Progressively learn to center myself and my own creative impulses.
Yeah, that’s the number one thing.
Helping Others Use Their Fire
Aurora: So how do you help others use their own fire?
Kaitlin: Oh, my. Well, the community that I’ve created has a number of components. So currently there’s a five part structure to the community platform. The first of The first part is focused on introspection, the second is focused on connection, the third is focused on learning, the fourth is focused on manifestation, and the fifth is focused on giving back.
So within the framework that I’ve created there are resources that assist people in kind of Connecting with themselves and inventorying the ways in which giftedness has shown up in their lives and questions that they have that they may like to pursue further.
Related to connection, I’ve also created a space in which people can forge new relationships, both platonic relationships and potential professional connections. And there’s also room for people to kind of connect with others who are similar to them. You know, maybe they’re part of a similar like affinity group with one another, such as LGBTQ people.
I also help people connect with others who can sort of service accountability buddies for them and mentors and mentees as well as colleagues. There’s room for people to engage in networking with one another by industry. And then another primary way in which I am trying to help people use their fire is by helping people kind of conceptualize themselves as, Ancestors of the future and as people who are facing particular challenges in the present and in the past but who can nevertheless lay a kind of groundwork and resources that can be useful to other people so in the context of the Black Brilliance Circle course that I offer and that I just recently concluded in December of 2023.
Creating a Container
Kaitlin: One of the, one of the frameworks that I offered is, or one of the, yeah, one of the frameworks that, that I employ and that people kind of move through over the course of the six month period is embracing a process of becoming Someone who can leave certain things behind and share certain gifts with the community in a world in which it’s often difficult for people like us to determine where we fit for various reasons.
So I think that just creating a container in which people can engage in that reflection in community while being mirrored and receiving compassionate feedback. Those are some of the ways that I am trying to help people use their fire for good.
Aurora: Awesome. And is there anything else that you would like to share with the Embracing Intensity audience?
Kaitlin: Let me see. Goodness.
Final Thoughts and Advice
Kaitlin: Something that, I feel very strongly is that if you’re still living, if you’re still here no matter, you know, how your own expectations for yourself and for your life may diverge from what your life currently looks like as a gifted or intense person I feel strongly that if you’re still here, you still have opportunities to take steps in the direction of authenticity and Self expression.
When I think back on my own journey over the last, I’m in my mid thirties, but over the last 10 years in particular that’s one of the clear messages that I’m able to take away that I think I allowed a lot of other people and situations and my own limitations and foibles at different moments in time to kind of control My understanding of my life and then the narrative that I was allowing to run my life.
And it’s been immensely liberating to, to sort of embrace the fact that there’s, it’s not the end if you’re still here and Also, other people can kind of place particular expectations on you related to what it looks like to be a gifted person and what it means to you know, rise to your potential and all of these other things, but I think that ultimately you’re the only person who lives inside of your body and your head and I think that, yeah, it’s okay to begin again at any age and just.
Be yourself. That’s the number one thing for me.
Conclusion and Contact Information
Aurora: And how can they find out more
Kaitlin: about you?
Thank you for asking.
People can find out more about me by going to my website for my business, Our Wild Minds, which is ourwildminds. com. And if people would like to learn more about my writing and some of the other things that I’m engaged in as a researcher, they can find me online at CaitlinSmith. net.
Aurora: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I’m glad we finally made this happen.
Kaitlin: Yeah, likewise, Aurora.
Aurora: Looking for ways to embrace your own intensity? Join our Embracing Intensity community at embracingintensity. com, where you’ll meet a growing group of like minded people who get what it’s like to be gifted and intense and are committed to creating a supportive community, as well as access to our courses and tools to help you use your fire without getting burned.
There’s also a pay what you can option through our Patreon, where you can increase your pledge to help sustain the podcast or Or join us at a rate that better fits your needs. You can also sign up for my free Harnessing the Power of Your Intensity, a self regulation workbook for gifted, creative, and twice exceptional adults and teens.
All links can be found in the show notes or on EmbracingIntensity. com.