In Ireland, we have very little by way of support or recognition for gifted children. In 2009, even our national advocacy body, the IAGC, fell apart. So, in 2011, Karen, Peter Lydon and I decided to try again using a different approach. Karen and I had already set up a local support group (GAS) and we felt that expanding this model into a network of similar groups would be a way forward, so we established Gifted and Talented Network Ireland. We use this blog as a means of spreading the word and providing a source of information relevant to Irish teachers and parents. Most of the material produced on giftedness comes from countries where the field is far more advanced that in Ireland, but sometimes it can seem a little "foreign" to us and our system. (And, quite frankly, extremely depressing at times when we see what can be done!)
Now, I am not someone who usually does things by half-measures. I felt under enormous pressure to hold regular support group meetings, write regular blogposts and turn up at every Twitter chat. It became all-consuming and I felt guilty when I failed to reach my self-imposed standards of perfection. I also began to feel frustrated by the lack of similar enthusiasm from others when people didn't turn up to meetings or chats. Then, earlier this year, I had an epiphany:
I have two teenaged children, a medical career and my personal sanity to attend to. I cannot be a professional or full-time advocate. It has taken me a long time, but I have finally realised that I don't have to be. I have made a difference and I will continue to plug away, but if I miss a few Twitter chats or don't post on my blog for weeks on end, I am not a failure and I don't need to beat myself up about it. This realisation has been such a release! But, it also strikes me that many people are probably like me and hesitate to take the first step because they feel they won't be able to do the job properly. With the perfectionist tendencies that many of us have, putting ourselves out there as advocates can be a little daunting.
So, my message for International Week of the Gifted 2012, is relax and go for it. It doesn't matter how much you do or how often. Whatever little you do, it will be more than is being done without you. Once you take that first step, others will join you and together we really can make a difference. As a certain well-known chain says: Every Little Helps!