"Mary, can you tell me one theme that you found in Henry David Thoreau's, Walden?" "Averration is the hallmark of homosapiens while longanimous placability and condonation are the indicia of supramundane," responded Mary. The class roared in condescending laughter. "What a GEEK!" shouted Sarah Martin. "Could you translate that to English? " asked Paul Jones. Mary cringed in her chair. Her peachy complexion turned a vivid shade of red. She was humiliated for displaying intelligence. Mary fits into the social category of high academic achievers and what many people refer to as "brainy."
This is not an unrealistic or isolated case. In general, society treats intelligent people differently. For example, teachers and other adults tend to have greater expectations from their more intelligent students. Some teachers think that these students sit at home doing only homework, the high point of their week being a two hour NOVA special. Teachers place other demands on these students too. In addition to their academic requirements, they're always asked to do more.
Not only do intellectual students have to deal with all the pressures that coincide with struggle to achieve, they then have to accept the harassment by the average students. Like Mary's experience, intelligent students are often mocked and ridiculed by the ordinary students. One might wonder if intelligence is worth the price of high expectations, humility, and harassment?
Over-achievers can possess feelings of insecurity. Instead of acting up to their ability, they limit themselves to be average. For instance, like a chameleon, an intellectual learns to adapt to their surroundings. They refrain from using complex sentences and advanced vocabulary. They don't necessarily like adjusting to the median level, but they feel this behavior is essential to fit into the mainstream of life. Self-perception is greatly influenced by how society views one; but should society possess the power to restrict a person from reaching his or her potential? Often a smart individual may feel limited in how to act.
Although one individual might lack the ability to comprehend a biology textbook, he or she may possess mechanical or athletic talents that the intellectual lacks. Our world contains a variety of individual and unique people. In order to live peacefully, people must learn to accept others differences, even if the differences include being smart. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.