100 Quirks of Famous Gifted People (That Will Make You Feel Better About Your Own Quirky Kid)
If my son had a theme song, it would sound like nervous laughter. People often aren’t sure what to make of him.
Is he being sarcastic?
Is he being rude?
Does he even know what he’s saying?
Are those… dead bugs he’s displaying?
Hasn’t he worn that hoodie every day this week?
What’s with the stuffed monkey — isn’t he supposed to be some kind of genius?
Yes. To all of it.
My profoundly gifted son is full of quirks, preferences, and aversions. Some of them are funny. Many of them are frustrating. But all of them make up who he is and serve as reminders that he’s just… different.
I’ve written before about how gifted kids aren’t always the stereotypical nerds you might imagine, or are used to seeing portrayed on tv. They’re just kids, really, whose brains happen to work differently, and who are just trying to go about living their life as normally as they can.
But their normal isn’t always society’s normal, and as much as I emphasize that they’re not caricatures, they still don’t really… blend in.
Gifted kids – gifted people – are full of quirks. Sometimes they’re due to sensory issues, sometimes overexcitabilities, maybe asynchronous development, or just plain odd interests or hobbies. Whether we embrace them or try to hide them, these quirks are not only hallmarks of giftedness, they’re part of what makes our kiddos just so endearing (and sometimes difficult). Annoying, adorable, or enervating, for better or worse, these kiddos are just plain different.
For those times you need a reminder that different is their norm – or maybe just need to know that your kiddo isn’t the oddest one out there – here are 100 quirks and eccentricities of gifted people throughout history!
Let’s start with history’s most well-known quirky brain – Albert Einstein, who did not wear socks. He bragged about this and how he secretly got away with such lack of civilization, that rebel, but also decided that since his big toe always made a hole in his socks, he’d just cut out the middle man and stop wearing them altogether!
Pythagoras, a famous vegetarian, hated beans so much that not only did he forbid his followers from eating them, legend says that he was killed by attackers because he refused to escape by running through a bean field.
Charles Dickens always carried a comb with him and fixed his hair hundreds of times a day.Dickens also slept facing north – he was convinced this improved his creativity, and kept a compass with him to ensure he was sleeping correctly.
Edgar Allen Poe, admittedly not the most conforming guy as it is, refused to write on paper and instead wrote on scrolls. Stylish.Andy Warhol kept a mummified human foot next to his bed.
Benjamin Franklin talked to himself.Dr. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the inventor of the floppy disk, CD, DVD, and digital watch, believed that staying underwater long enough to nearly reach the point of drowning would stimulate his brain.
Dr. Nakamatsu also had a bathroom tiled in 24k gold, which he believed blocked out television and radio waves, and where he liked to go and think.
Another believer in the power of water, Ludwig von Beethoven would pour water all over himself periodically throughout the day while he was composing.
Henry Cavendish was so shy that he would communicate with his servants only through letters. If he unexpectedly ran into one, they were dismissed.Cavendish also had a second staircase built in his home to help him avoid accidental interactions with the servants.
Truman Capote refused to start – or finish – a work on a Friday.Capote also never allowed three cigarettes to burn in the same ashtray.Apparently very passionate about numbers, Capote would refuse to call anyone whose phone number added up to what he considered an “unlucky number”.
Mark Zuckerberg only eats meat from animals that he kills himself. Honore de Balzac, the playwright, drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day. But honestly, how unreasonable is this, really?
The mysterious mathematician Paul Erdos drank excessive amounts of coffee took caffeine pills, and even the occasional amphetamines to stay awake while only sleeping 4 hours a day. “A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems,” he once said.
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