1. You were always skeptical of how intelligence was traditionally defined, as most of your reason for not succeeding wildly was often, simply, a lack of interest. You couldn’t bring yourself to engage with information that you knew would serve little-to-no purpose in your adult life (alas, you were correct) and while that may be a product of shortsightedness in some ways, it’s also unfair to simply limit the measure of intelligence to how well you engage with and can effectively reiterate a few generalized topics.
2. Regardless, you still adopted the fear of “almostbut not quite good enough” syndrome. Being average, or mildly above average, in school, doesn’t translate to being unintelligent, it just means you have to try harder to be “okay.” In a world where exceptional is average and normal is less-than, it lays a foundation to spend the rest of your adult life trying to prove yourself as a capable human being.
3. You had to learn that there are different kinds of intelligence, the least among them the ability to regurgitate information and call it understanding.Despite valuing your education as a concept, you realize that what you learn in the classroom is what everybody else learns as well – it doesn’t set you up to succeed beyond the “norm.” Excelling at what everybody else is learning is certainly a measure of one kind of intelligence and therefore success, but it may not be the kind thatyouvalue.
4. You still don’t naturally think of yourself as an exceptionally “smart” person, even if you’re very confident in what you do and how you think and so on.Our first brushes with self-awareness tend to have a lifelong impact on us. Strangely enough, we all tend to tell the same story: we were, in some way, almost but not good enough, and then had to spend the rest of our lives proving that wrong (or fearing that someone else perceives it as true.)
5. The idea that you weren’t smartenoughmade you quick to second-guess yourself. The thing about not being exceptional when it comes to “intelligence” is that in a world that sees little beyond what the brain is capable of, it can almost feel as though it’s a hit to your value as a human being.
6. You felt a bit of social anxiety growing up, as the fear that whatever you naturally thought or felt wasn’t themostinformed or accurate, so you, as a person, were somehow also “wrong.”There’s nothing wrong with being wrong. In fact, it’s just as important as being right (you learn more from mistakes than you do from successes; milestones are goals along the journey, mistakes are lessons that push you along) but the reason you became aware, if not very self-conscious, of your inherent intelligence was that, most likely, someone made fun of it or questioned it or made you feel lesser than because of it. Hence the social anxiety. Hence the self-doubt. (Sigh).
7. You had to teach yourself how to trust yourself.In being taught that your instinctive, inherent comprehension was wrong, you probably started adopting and accepting other people’s ideas and beliefs without realizing that you were. You eventually had to teach yourself how to trust yourself, how to believe in your truth even if it’s not true for someone else at the same time.
8. You still tend to seek “reasons” for your success. It’s not second nature for you to just assume that your talent and ability is responsible for whatever good things you’re creating in your life, so you actually tend to talk them down in your mind all because you feel like they were a matter of luck or fate or good timing.
9. You ended up being more objectively successful than a lot of your once-thought-to-be-smarter peers, because you didn’t want to waste your brain space with things that didn’t matter, though for a long time, that was your downfall. This is often very true of “average,” or just above average, students. They tend to succeed wildly in the “real world” in a way their peers can’t quite match. Such is the typical success story: the kid who dropped out of college or didn’t pass math but somehow emerged a tech genius or startup god. This is because a lot of varying forms of intelligence cannot be measured, or applied, to traditional academia, and truthfully, the only problem with that is how the system is structured, not how our brains work and vary.
10. You’ve really had to reconcile your fear of “what other people think,” and learn to define yourself outside of other people’s minds. The tricky thing about having other people measure and gauge your “worth” is that you become conditioned to look to them to define you. You naturally begin to seek their approval or behave in a way they would deem acceptable, because when you’re a kid, you don’t realize that you can give yourself acceptance, and you can measure your own intelligence. But as is often the case, it was a blessing to not be up to other people’s standards – it forced you to recognize, and embrace, your own.
11. You believe yourself to be intelligent, but wouldn’t flaunt it as you don’t feel you have the “credentials” to “prove” it. The truth is that often, it doesn’t matter how informed or well-spoken or interesting you are, people don’t “believe” that someone is intelligent without some kind of definitive “proof,” and worse, they assume that people who have the grades or what not to indicate their intelligence, are smart in any or every other way (when that is certainly not the case.)
12. You have a lot of resentment that your cognitive ability was measured – and your self-perception created – by such a limited, flawed, depersonalized system. You often lament the fact that if only people pointed out how intelligence is not one uniform ability or understanding, that you’d have more confidence in yourself, yet it was a blessing in disguise (and I don’t use that word often) because ultimately, you didn’t succumb to the ideas other people had of you, you redefined what you were worth on your own terms, and ultimately got farther than people who just let themselves flow with the most common current.
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