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The Truth About Intelligence

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Whichever idiot said that being smart was easy must have been on crack. A lot of it. In addition to being tremendously delusional, of course.

It isn't easy, that is certain.

Many people think: Oh, she's the Asian genius girl who's too smart for her own good. She gets insanely good grades and has no problems.

WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!

Intelligence is a gift, but it is one that comes bubble-wrapped in trouble.

Thinking that intelligent people have it easy is only one of numerous misconceptions.

First, it seems to me that people think that getting good grades is an effortless for smart people. Again, this is completely false. It's not as if I get straight A's by sitting on my rear end and doing jack-diddly-squat. I actually have to do work, and I will spend three hours a night on homework if that is what is necessary to get me the A (or grade) that I desire. If I didn't do my work, I'd be failing for certain.

Many people get it into their heads that knowing a ton of things means you're smart. It doesn't. Knowing facts and details isn't worth anything unless you can apply them to the real world and find some useful purpose for them. The knowledge that Edgar Allan Poe had a messed up life doesn't mean anything unless you can conclude that his immensely morbid and disturbing short stories, in a way, reflected his horrid experiences. Students in non-advanced English classes often spend their time identifying elements of literature and things like that instead of analyzing works and composing essays that require critical thinking because they have information but can't get anything out of it. In other words, knowledge is next to useless without higher thinking.

Granted, intelligence is not worth much without knowledge either. You could be perfectly smart, but if you have never been educated and don't know anything, it doesn't get you anywhere. It is disconcerting to think that there are plenty of smart people in Africa and other places that are in poverty whose talents are wasting away because they lack the opportunity to exploit them and are more concerned with getting a few crumbs to fill their bellies than being educated in astrophysics. Knowledge and intelligence are interdependent or otherwise worth little.

With those pesky misconceptions addressed, let us move on to the woes of being intelligent.

First off, there’s the issue of being bombarded with help-seekers. One small problem or confusion that's even slightly pertaining to academics and people will make a beeline for me, requesting that I serve as their Academic Guru of Absolute Omnipotence. As it is, I find it difficult to say no to these demands. So long as they aren't asking me for a straight-out answer (it's against my moral and ethical code), I feel that I should help them. Some of them have valid questions and requests. But regardless of whether I am truly capable of helping or not, people seem to expect me to work some magic and regurgitate an answer from some sort of High School for Dummies to provide the quick-and-easy salvation of their academic problems.

It’s not that simple. First of all, I don't know everything—contrary to popular opinion, as I have heard enough people follow my spoken answers with 'whatever she said' to last me a lifetime. Second, I'm not as infallible as people often want to believe. I might actually give them the wrong information. Not to mention that I have better things to do with my miserable life than act as a schoolwork tutor for half the people in each of my core classes. But I oblige. I don't know if I'll ever just snap under pressure some day and swat them like bothersome flies. An unwise idea, but thoroughly tempting.

Another drawback to this intelligence is people's feelings and attitudes towards me. It is extremely uncomfortable to endure the envy, jealousy, and resentment of others. Realize that I am not trying to imply that everyone is envious or jealous of me. That would be arrogant—an image that I would never wish to bear and that I endeavor arduously to stay away from. I hate arrogant people. But do you have any idea how difficult it is not to be perceived as boastful when you tell someone who on average makes C's that you just got a 95 on the most recent Algebra 2 test? As if being the sole freshman fish in a sea/classroom of sophomores and juniors at the time wasn't pressure enough for someone who was simply trying to survive the Hall of Torture that is High School.

As I said, perceived arrogance is one of the major defects to having extra 'smarticles' (which I interpret as 'particles of smart'). The result is that I feel uncomfortable talking about grades and avoid divulging them unless someone asks. That way I won't sound overly arrogant (hopefully not at all), though I usually will still get some comment about being too smart for my own good—a statement that I find preposterous and vexing. It would probably be better simply to inform people that my grades are none of their business, but who knows how they would construe that?

One of the worst things is the designation of a ‘genius.’ I despise being called a genius. It sounds crazy, but it's absolutely true. It distances me from my peers and exaggerates my intelligence. Being labeled a genius means I have to live up to the expectations one might have of a true genius. That's simply too high of a hurdle for me to jump. I find the title and trait of a genius undesirable. There are several reasons for this.

As you may know, academic-oriented geniuses tend to have difficulty socializing with their peers. I'm not exactly a social butterfly in the first place and do not need any fewer people-skills than I already possess. Also, geniuses don't have much of a childhood. Childhood is essential to a person's growth—it's what determines how they're going to turn out, for the most part. And geniuses often lack skills in the street-smart department, in which case they can't remember to eat or even put on pants unless someone reminds them to. So, in these aspects, I see 'genius' as quite an undesirable label and trait for me.

As I said, dealing with other people is difficult for me. Several people treat me like a genius and I don't appreciate the way they talk about it. That's why I prefer to interact with people who accept my intelligence for what it is and don't make a fuss about it. It shouldn't make a difference to people that I have straight A's—besides, perhaps, the fact that I am capable of holding an intelligent conversation with them. I think everyone can agree that it's bothersome to talk to people who say 'huh, what?' to every fifth word and request clarification on any term or concept that's above a fourth grade level. It's amazing, and even disturbing, how impossibly stupid and ignorant some people can be. If you think this is arrogance, think again. Everyone knows someone that falls into this unenviable category. Having higher intelligence means there are fewer people who are on my level, so to speak, fewer people who can truly empathize with me.

People usually compare their grades to mine, another undesirable side effect of possessing intelligence. When they happen to score higher than me at some point, they have to make a big deal over it, as if their life's purpose is to exceed me in academic areas. I believe this to be the most moronic idea ever. A person's goal should be to improve upon themselves, not compare their grades to that of other people. If success for you is getting a C on a science quiz, so be it. You got better than that last D minus and it's an improvement. You shouldn't let other people define your academic success. You should strive to do better than what you already have, if possible.

Overall, being smart in itself is not a bad thing. Rather, it is the extra baggage that comes with it that makes the gift of intelligence in some ways a bit disadvantageous. So, the next time you want to state or make an opinion or speculation on smart people (or people who are smarter than you are), think again. Try to put yourself in their shoes and take a mile-long walk in them to see what it's like. You just might change your mind.





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