This is just one of these posts that every “gifted” kid has to write, isn’t it.
It is remarkable how much of my childhood identity was being “smart.” I was just reminded of this when I met a ton of my dad’s old friends and relatives who, even now, frequently remarked on how smart I used to be.
- “Don’t make me one dimensional.” If I was a kid who was really good at basketball (but I’m not in the NBA now, say) I’d kind of like for people to know me as more than “basketball kid.” (At the same time, I recognize people don’t have that much mental storage space to devote to each kid they meet. So, ok.)
- “Smart” is weirder than “good at basketball” because people think it’s virtuous. If you get bad grades, adults tell you “get good grades!” If you’re bad at basketball, adults don’t tell you “get good at basketball!”
- So, when you’re fighting against being seen as one-dimensional Smart Kid, you’re also fighting against beeing seen as a Good Kid, Better than others. (while also loving it, of course - yeah, tell me how great I am! but still, you have a sense of how rotten this is.)
- I don’t even think I’m that smart? Some of that is, I have surrounded myself with other Smart people, so ways that I was Special in 1st grade are now just normal. And some of that is, I feel kind of like an underachiever, like a Basketball Kid who didn’t make the NBA. So people pointing out how good I was at basketball keeps reminding me how I could have been LeBron.
- Wait, if I don’t have one dimension that “defines” me, then… what am I? I’m not Smart, I’m just… me? This was a struggle even as a kid - but now it’s “huh, at 36 I should have some mastery of something"; the fact that I don’t makes me feel like I’m underachieving more.
Eh. I’m mostly over it. It was just a shock a couple months ago.
blog 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010