My natural curiosity as child burgeoned into a growing balloon of knowledge throughout school. Yet my balloon of knowledge eventually became too big that it was all my peers saw, not the person behind it.
My balloon of knowledge that I refer to is the academic kind.
The last straw happened when I was twelve. In class we had to write something nice about our peers on paper. When I received my paper, all that was written was “You’re so smart”. I was disappointed. I wanted to be Nice Girl or Funny Girl, anything but Smart Girl.
I realised a factor in my increasing self-doubt of academic intelligence was the lack of celebration behind female driven intelligence.
In our society, we are evasive of prominent female academic successes in history. We hear of Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates. We don’t hear of Hedy Lamarr, Brenda Hale or Rita Levi-Montalcini. Through many, many lessons in perfectionism, study pressures, and indecisiveness, I eventually found my motivation. I also learned to straddle the fine line of madness in academia while keeping my sensuality and character.
I discovered I could be Smart Girl, Nice Girl, and Funny Girl at the same time. It is funny how revolutionary it sounded at the time, but that is the truth.
Your intelligence is a weapon. With intelligence and knowledge comes a responsibility of wielding it appropriately. This responsibility means one must know their audience. To refrain from flaunting intelligence does not equal concealment. Instead, it means respecting the other party. This respect requires an ability to learn how to engage with people of varying intellectual abilities. I often refer to myself as a thermometer, reflecting the company I keep and speaking their language. This ability always comes handy, especially in roles of leadership.
Let us acknowledge and celebrate the many different styles and types of intelligence.
Consider your friend who has amazing emotional intelligence. She is able to gauge exactly the emotional needs of the other person.
Consider your sister who has incredible street smarts. Throw her in a completely new environment with her trusty gut, and she manages to keep her head and heart intact.
Academic intelligence is only a blip on the great spectrum of intelligence. Despite whatever the test result is, you are more than the number. You are beautiful. You are kind. You are smart. You are good-hearted.
You are you.
– image credit: Death To The Stock Photo