Monday, 19 November 2012

How Sweet to Be an Idiot

Monty Python wrote a song called How Sweet to Be an Idiot. Obviously it was a joke like all their other songs, but it has an element of truth behind it.

My whole life people have told me I am "gifted", or "special". I taught myself to read on my own before I was even in school, I've done schoolwork a year above my level since my first year, I was top of my class throughout primary school, and I retain information like a sponge.

My whole life I had this intelligence and maturity that was frankly, abnormal. And people were often envious of it. People wanted to be like me, to have my brain, and all my skills.

Don't get me wrong, I like being able to learn quickly, ace my exams, and impress my teachers, but there's a side to intelligence that most people don't see. A side that isn't quite as pretty as the glamorous side.

One simple thing is my sensitivity. I am very fidgety, very uncomfortable, and easily distracted. Even as I type this sentence; the headphones on my head are uncomfortable, and I have to adjust them every few seconds, an act that frequently causes me to stop typing midway through a sentence. I've also died many a time in video games to adjust my headphones.

My fingers are also very sensitive. After every few words in this sentence, I have to rub my thumbs on the underside of my fingers. I don't know why, I just have to.

Anything around my neck always feels wrong. Any necklace, or the collar around my shirt has to be adjusted. I once broke a necklace from tugging on it too much because it felt "wrong".

My shirt it also very uncomfortable. I always pull it tight so that it sits close to my body, and whenever I wear a jumper or jacket, I tuck my shirt in.

My sensitivity has also made me a chronic nail biter, to the point where I have bit my nails until they bleed.

And it's not just physical sensitivity that has been affected by my intelligence; I am also very sensitive emotionally. I become emotional during most movies I watch, I have even cried just listening to songs, even songs without lyrics.

It may seem random, but the research has shown a direct correlation between high IQs and sensitivity.

And as annoying as that is each day, that's the most tame symptom of the flipside of intelligence.

A high IQ almost always comes with a low EQ. That's Emotional Intelligence, a fairly recent term in the psychology world. As with many stereotypical images of nerds, such as Sheldon Cooper, many people with high IQs are often bad in social situations, find it hard to read people's emotions, and struggle with social etiquette and expectations. Actually many people have told me I'm just like Sheldon in that regard.

I also find it very hard to contain my emotions and control them. When I am happy; I am overly happy. When I am sad; I am overly sad. I have very little control over my thoughts, and I find it nearly impossible to cool down after an argument.

I have spent the last four years trying very hard to improve this. What may come naturally to most people, I sometimes have to think about. Or should think about. It's actually taken a lot of work for me to get to the point that I'm at. I have a devastating history of destroying relationships with my best friends because of stupid mistakes that a "normal" person wouldn't have made.

It's no secret that "nerds" and "geeks" are the centrepiece of a lot of bullying, and I can speak firsthand on the topic. I was bullied almost every day during primary school, and it affected me in many ways. Now that I am older I find it very hard to trust people and hard to open up to anyone.

It also made me a bully in my anger. It's no excuse, but bullying people became a normal thing for me because I experienced it so much. And even today I'm still learning how to relate to people and how to respect them.

And then there's the depression. This is the worst side effect by far. Worse than the sensitivity, the low emotional intelligence, and the bullying.

One thing that comes with intelligence is a wider view of the world, perhaps a more realistic, or more cynical perspective. Some of the highest suicide rates in the world are geniuses. We see everything in the world, including its flaws and holes, but also in life, in other people, in philosophical ideas, and in every single thing we do each day.

All of this combined makes for a fairly difficult life. While I was once the king pin, the top dog, the big kahuna. My bullying, depression and lack of social experience helped me slowly slip and fall down the tree until I hit rock bottom.

Now I have to concentrate very hard on my schoolwork, I have to be very careful about my thoughts and feelings, I have to find joy in everything or it will swallow me whole.

Yes I am very intelligent. From a very young age people have called me "gifted", and "special", but it would be so easy to be a bit simpler. The same research about geniuses showed that the happiest people on Earth are those with mental disabilities.

Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt God's design of me, but sometimes I think how great it would be to not have a care in the world, to not think deeply, to not have to worry, to let each day pass without a second thought. How sweet it would be to be an idiot.

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