Don't Worry About Trying to Prove You Are a Smarty Pants

I was identified in about second grade as qualified for some kind of gifted program. In eighth grade, I took algebra. In high school, I was in a lot of advanced classes.

I went along with all this nonsense in part because these classes were supposed to "prepare me for college." Then I got to college and found out that they expected me to take two more math classes beyond the ones I already had in order to qualify for a degree.

In other words, I needed crap like calculus in order to get some run of the mill history degree or some nonsense where other kids who had not taken all these advanced classes needed much more basic math that I had taken years ago to get the same damn degree. No, they weren't going to give me credit for what I had already learned or something.

If I had been majoring in something like Civil Engineering, where multiple calculus classes are required to graduate at all, I would have had a leg up. As it is, I felt pretty crapped on.

In my thirties, an older, wiser me who was still bitter about the whole thing CLEPed college Algebra and took the Intro to Statistics class I needed for the degree program I was in. I had not previously taken statistics, so this was actually new material for me and did not feel like the college just taking a dump on my head like I felt at age 18 when I signed up for Calculus and then dropped out because I did not take math my senior year in high school and I was in over my head.

I am a social creature. Being one of the smart kids in school was generally a socially negative experience. I tended to have few real friends and I got harassed a lot by people calling me things like "Einstein" who basically hated me.

Teachers often held me up as the student that other students should just hate. They tended to take credit for the fact that I knew a lot, never mind that I often knew most of it before setting foot in their class room. They would act like other kids just needed to study harder so they could be like me when that was flat out a lie.

I often didn't bother to study. For largely unrelated reasons, I was often suicidal and exhausted and I would blow off homework and hope that I would just wake up dead, basically. Middle school and high school were years where I got some grades every year that were a C or worse, mostly because I was too sick to do the work and too suicidal to care too much about my grades.

I still graduated as STAR student and a National Merit Scholarship Winner due to have a GPA in the top 10 percent for my gradutating class and having the highest SAT score of said class. My older sister had also been STAR student and a National Merit Scholarship winner. She actually set it as her goal to get a scholarship and go off to college. That was her plan for getting out of Dodge. She was sort of outraged that I sort of phoned in high school and graduated with the same honors, then turned down my scholarship and went to the same college.

Because my sister did it first, with better grades and a higher SAT score and actually put her back into it, my family was not impressed with my accomplishments. I was treated like the Also Ran at home and hated at school.

When I was 17, I began playing role playing games. I was usually the only girl there. These were fairly idealistic guys and they were genuinely friends of mine. They were protective of me and I had an openly affectionate relationship with a number of them. We often swapped massages, yet if some guy made the mistake of talking about me like I must be a whore and servicing the entire group, they were met with ugly threats by my guy friends. Sometimes, after such incidents, the new folks who had no real respect for women never bothered to show up again.

One night, we were all eating at some pizza joint. I was trading massages with guy friends and we were all in a jovial mood, cracking jokes and so forth. This was normal, routine behavior for the group.

Some guy from my high school who only knew me as the smart girl that everyone hated and who had no friends walked in the door with his date. He saw me with my actual friends and how I was behaving around people who weren't consistently horrible to me. His eyes fell out his head and rolled across the floor. They next time I saw him at school, he just stared at me, not knowing what to say about any of it.

I turned down my scholarship. I got married at age 19. I dropped out of college a few months later. My husband joined the army and I followed his career around the world and tried to figure out how to detox from my crappy school experiences where the goal was to out smarty pants everyone else and the reward for this was that everyone hated you for succeeding.

Some time after I began homeschooling my sons, my oldest son said something to me about having ambition or whatever. He had finally been identified as gifted and started picking up on those messages about how gifted people are supposed to accomplish great things in life and they are somehow obligated to have big goals.

I told him to not bother. I told him that if he really is as wicked smart as the tests and what not suggested, it would show, no matter what he did. He didn't need to try to prove he was smart.

I told him to worry about figuring out how to live in a healthy way. I told him that being gifted is a burden, not just a blessing, and he needed to figure out how to adequately feed his mind and meet his intellectual needs and side step the societal BS hung on so many smart people where it is a lose-lose situation.

He initially was resistant to this idea. He played a lot of games, so I posited a hypothetical situation where someone who wanted to do something diabolical asked for his help with it even though he was only 13 or 14 at the time, but they pretended it was just a game. I talked about the movie "War Games" where the plot is that some high school kid begins playing a game and it turns into an actual threat to national security, to world security in fact.

That hit a nerve for him. That sunk in.

I told him "Don't worry about proving you are smart. If you are smart, it will show, no matter what you choose to do. Hitler was also smart. Just worry about living your life such that you aren't the next Hitler."


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