The heart-breaking reality of brilliance


I used to think brilliance was measured on a scale of grades and accolades. The more awards, praise and the higher the marks, the more glorious the rainbow of your brilliance shined. Or, so I thought when I was a child.

This was the environment in which I was raised. Sadly, today’s children are still being raised, in many ways, by this standard of brilliance. Although I sometimes question the choice, I am raising my children in a town with a school system that measures brilliance by test scores, and the push of eager parents and teachers to differentiate children from the crowd. You can’t have a top, without a bottom and a middle.

My approach has been to intervene as little as possible. I have made the conscious choice to not be one of those parents who insists her child is “better” than the rest, yet here is where I see the heart-breaking reality of “brilliance.” My daughter, a natural magnet of “success” always, easily, rises to the top, my son, who, at the age of 9, has already determined that “God never intended there to be war, murder or competition,” always seems to be one of those kids stuck in the lost ground of the middle.

I believe my son is brilliant, in fact I know he is brilliant. But, I also believe every child is brilliant. I see brilliance, not as a ladder, or tier, but as a spectrum of light radiating from the heart of the soul. Each child, each being, I believe, comes into life with a unique light that no one else shares. In this way, there is no hierarchy, but billions of points of light all glowing to individual frequencies. This is how a beautiful rainbow is birthed to light.

I believe it is our job as parents and caregivers, as teachers and mentors, to help our children find their unique brilliance and give them the nurturing environment in which to shine. Sometimes, when I see my son stuck in the middle, with a crowd of jostling children vying for that top spot to shine atop the rest, whether it be in a sport, or in the classroom, I question whether the environment we have chosen for him.

It is heartbreaking to have to tell your child that he is, in fact special, when he is over-looked by his teachers, peers and coaches. Yet, I know that we are here for a reason. I have no doubt my son’s brilliance will shine out to the world in time and he will do the big things his soul has intended in this world. It makes no difference to me whether these “big things” are big by society’s standards, because my son, I have faith, will always be living through the heart. His wise, old soul reminds me of his brilliant light, which prefers to glow quietly, each moment of each day. He is no better, or worse than his peers. He is his own, unique light.

4 thoughts on “The heart-breaking reality of brilliance

  1. alienorajt

    Beautifully written, Alethea, moving and so true. This is exactly the way I see brilliance – and always did as a teacher – and one of the reasons why the education system fills me wit sorrow and despair. xxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s