That’s right folks. I’m smart. Really smart, actually.
From an early age, I tested well and was told I was smart. Somewhere along the way, however, I determined that I shouldn’t play up my intelligence around others, even though everyone knew I was smart. I answered questions in class, I got better grades, teachers talked about me more. But for some reason, I determined that it was cocky or bragging or prideful to talk about my intelligence. So I didn’t.
I downplayed my brain power. I qualified many of my statements with “well, I think that maybe” or “I heard that” so it did not seem like I was a know it all or had all the answers simply because I was smart. I rarely said “this is the answer” or “I know this is how it works.”
Maybe I thought it would hurt other peoples feelings if I said I was smart (or smarter than them). When I was in the seventh grade and we took our standardized tests, our math teacher announced that someone in our class had gotten the highest score of anyone in our grade, a 99%. I saw everyone look to one kid and whisper his name because they assumed it was him. I assumed it was him. Then our math teacher pointed at me. I was embarrassed. And the kid everyone assumed it was, Jason Rose, looked embarrassed too. Then I felt bad that he felt embarrassed, like it was somehow my fault. (He made fun of the way I ate my cookies in high school, so really he deserved to feel bad in seventh grade… but that’s another story.)
Whatever the reason, I have always felt uncomfortable with my intelligence and the perceptions other might have of me (or of themselves) because of it. Now, after some maturity and life and work experience (not a lot, mind you, but some) I am finally starting to learn that downplaying my abilities only hurts me.
In school, doing well on assignments and tests was enough. You were graded fairly (most of the time) and that was enough to get by and be at the top. The real world isn’t like that. There are very few tests where we are fairly graded on our brain power and that alone is enough to move us forward and upward. Others have to have a reason to give me an opportunity at all, and if I always downplay my intelligence and abilities no one is ever going to give me a chance.
One of my favorite poems is by Marianne Williamson because it so accurately reflects how I feel.
Our Deepest Fear
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are younot to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Of course, I haven’t worked out all of the internal factors that cause me to play small, but I am working on it.
First order of business, announce to the interwebs that I am smart. Really smart.