Here’s a fun fact for you.
Last time I had some kind of measurement of my IQ – I was bracketed into the upper echelons of the 130s. If I remember correctly, it was about 136. I’ve never talked about my IQ publicly but whatever, it doesn’t matter and it actually gives good story now so bear with me. This was in my 20s and I thought it was cool, but I had some old friends who laughed at me when I told them.
They’re dead now Anyway, this means a lot to a lot of people in the world, especially academics, and it meant something to me to some extent here and there, but not for the right reasons. I mean fuck, if I did another test now I reckon I might even hit 115 or 120. I’m pretty tired right now because after my main job, my brain’s not good at dem thinks a lot. It’s just a fucking number anyway.
I’ve been told I’m “talented” and “full of potential” and “very smart” for a long time, and it’s pretty true that when it comes to the basic aspects of surviving in today’s day and age, I do it fairly easily.
That doesn’t mean I’m rich, so don’t @ me on stupid charity requests – I’m a minimalist at heart, but I digress. I’ve learned over the years that I learn incredibly god damned fast – I pick up on basics real quick and have absurdly stupid good memory, so reading a book just once is usually enough because I get bored.
None of this is a gloat, either. It’s more a recognizing of a certain fact, and that fact is I have fast processing power – that said, when I think about the biggest successes in my life, ie. moving to a foreign country and settling, writing my book, excelling in my job, achieving some physical personal bests – all of it didn’t come from the fact that I have a big number engraved into my ego encrusted forehead.
It came from hard work and determination, and the whole “I’m smrat!” lauding that was planted into my head from a young age actually was a detriment to me.
I mean shit, my skill to be able to write with this much clarity and ease nowadays? That was decades in the making. The freelance work where I was pounded (not literally) by my editor, the pressure to meet deadlines, the hours of creative writing…that shit is work!
Anyway, the smarts made me lazy. I learned things really fast and was constantly bored at school. I didn’t perform very well either because I didn’t learn how to study. The fuck do I need to study for when things came easily? In other words, I didn’t know what hard work looked like, so when I actually went to work for the first time and was told I had to *gasp* do menial tasks to make money, I was just straight up offended. Who the hell were these people?!
Not just that, but the ego behind being called smart while simultaneously learning to be lazy turned me into someone who couldn’t really tolerate failure.
I distinctly remember one moment where I was raging in an online video game with friends, getting mad at the fact that I had the audacity to get shot and killed during a match. My friend then snickered and said:
“Dude, you’re 50 kills and at 2 deaths. I have no idea why you’re raging”
That shut me up real good (and made me laugh, too), but that also gave me a minor insight into myself that I never really forgot – it was revealing to me that I was incapable of dealing with failure, out of some misconceived superiority complex that had developed because “I’m smrat!”.
I thought I was talented, smart and intellekt king, so I had to maintain that mantle at all costs, because it is what I had identified myself as. It was my saving grace in this world of dumb people, jocks and try hards, bro. Hint hint: this is why I always say that the things you label yourself don’t fucking matter. Meaningless.
Anyway, it was all bullshit, and that kind of intense identification led me to some serious stagnation, anxiety and depression. It was something that had affected me for a very long time well into my 30’s.
The reality is, no one cares if you’re smart. You can have the biggest brain, the greatest syllogisms, the most Aryan super genes ever, but it will never, ever get you to where you need to be because the doing is what matters.
Without actions and commitment, scrubbing toilets and getting down and dirty, struggling to the heights with a big ass rock on your shoulders, your smarts will get you nowhere and you’ll be a nobody. You’ll be dust in the wind while the “dumb” people who learned to work hard end up doing the things they wanted to do in their lives. Achieving their values.
When I was around 19, I remember that I was going for a full time position at a retail store that I was working at. It was going against a guy that I was friends with, Nathan. Nathan had at one point been to prison – I don’t recall what for, but I actually liked him a lot and we used to talk a lot of shit. He was a really good guy and I hope he’s doing well now.
We both wanted the promotion from casual to full time, and I recall both of us working hard for it. Nathan got the position, and I was pretty pissed off about it. I couldn’t really wrap my head around why they chose him over me.
The rationalization that formed was just me defending my ego – it was because I was always told I was smart/talented/genius/whatever.
One day on one of my shifts where it was just the temporary manager and I, we spoke about his promotion and I lamented the fact that I didn’t get the promotion.
The manager looked to me and said, with zero filter:
“Well it’s because Nathan worked harder than you. When I asked you to put stickers on some of the items in the back, it took you ages. It took him 10 minutes. Maybe you should stop thinking you’re special and work harder.”
The words stung, but the sting had the first dosage of reality that I needed post-school. He taught me that hard work is what gets you places, not your “smrats”.
Since then, I actually did put my all in most of my jobs. Yeah I get lazy time to time, but I give my best shot and don’t complain. Good news is, that combined with the “smrats” leads to really good results.
Wish I could thank that guy.
I still have some work to do here and there when it comes to that whole “I’m smrat” thing. It still crops up sometimes and makes me a lazy asshole. But I’m working on it.
And you should too if you relate to this. Trust me, drop the bullshit ego and your rationalizations for how you’re smart, no one understands and you’re alone because people are dumb. No one cares that you’re smart, and your disdain for others is like a revolting stench that makes you unfuckable and unlovable – your work is what matters. Character too.
Get to it.