I don’t necessarily think of myself as “smart,” but the evidence often points in that direction.
When I was very young I was always bright. Good grades were effortless, and thanks to that over-achievement I attended one of the best public middle- and high schools in the state (and the country).
It was a shock to my system: my peers weren’t just peers in age, but in intelligence. I was no longer the smart one, just a smart one. I increasingly saw myself in the middle of the hyper-intelligent pack figuratively and, in class rank, it became literal.
College was that shock in reverse – i was no longer surrounded by a crowd of smart.
It took some time to adjust to being above-average again. I expected to still commiserate about having a hard time and getting average grades, because that was who I accustomed to being.
In retrospect, as my confidence and ability increased so did my aloofness as a student – i eschewed or altogether ignored classmates in an effort to insulate my ability to be right without feeling guilty. In a way it was like returning to grade school, where I had free reign to wield my smarts with no regrets.
I have been dismayed to learn that in a post-collegiate world the insulation of isolation just doesn’t work; you don’t get anywhere by eschewing possible connections or alienating co-workers with your know-it-allness.
That’s the curse of smart – everyone respects your intelligence until you are a peer or, worse, a competitor, and suddenly “smart” is a derogative term, and you are left scrambling to cover it up.
As a result, I often find myself feigning misunderstanding or painting myself as a little bit bumbling … handicapping my A-Game just to fit in to this so-called “real world,” and living in constant fear that the facade is starting to stick.
Is that the line that separates smart drones from smart successes? Am i supposed to stop caring about people, and start caring about being right?
I guess i’m just not smart enough to understand.