“You are so smart!” A friend said this to me the other day and it threw me off. When I hear this, all I can think about is what Aibileen said in The Help…..You is kind. You is smart. You is important. I don’t think I ever felt smart, but over the years I think I have gotten life smart or wise as some would say.
In school, I was pretty average. I was constantly being tested for learning differences which might explain my test anxiety. By the way, I didn’t have any learning differences. It wasn’t that I didn’t like school, it just seemed like a lot of work. At parent-teacher conferences they would tell my parents that I was a delight. So happy and willing to help, then they would throw in the part about me not turning in my homework as if it were an afterthought. If you ever want to see an engineer loose their shit, have them help me with math. My Dad tried, bless his heart, but no engineering degree could ever have prepared him for me.
What I didn’t have in the intellectual department, I made up for with my insane ability to socialize along with my savvy common sense. I have a great social game and I know not to cross the street when traffic is moving among other tricks. Yes, I managed to get my undergraduate degree in twelve short years. What can I say? I enjoyed college, not necessarily the class aspect, but the socialization was delightful. Some, well okay everyone, would say, including me, that I liked that aspect far too much. But, I have that degree hanging on my wall along with my MFA, so I managed.
So, when I hear people tell me how smart I am, it makes me laugh. I have insight. I am a little wiser due to my life experiences, and I am okay being average. I know my gifts and my limitations. Which is why I think my parents almost had a stroke when I initially decided to go into nursing. They were kind enough to let me figure out that not only did it encompass everything I opposed – math and science – but it would have made me deal with sick people on a daily basis. And we all know, how much I like people in general, so that was a plan waiting to dissolve. I like words better anyway.