Tuesday, September 21, 2010
What Are You First?
When you go to describe yourself, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
For me, it's always been "smart," whether that sounds mildly arrogant or not. Smart has had its ups and downs for me: on the one hand, it's always meant that I take to school easily and succeed at academics with very little effort. It meant that I could talk to adults on an adult level from a young age. It means that I can read and read and read and comprehend very difficult books and take joy in the sense of discovery that comes from that process. It means I'm the kind of person that gathers information and is very analytical. It means being the person in the room who can explain that obscure concept you happened to bring up. Being smart opened the doors to a wonderful university. I will be the first in my immediate family to graduate college. It means that I have the world at my feet because the wonderful world blooming in my brain is infinite. I can do anything.
But it's also meant that I was labeled as a "nerd" in school and singled out. It meant knowing that other smart kids were competing fiercely with me and wanted to see me fail. It meant feeling self-conscious participating in class because I was "showing off." It meant being teased because showing your smarts is grounds for ostracization in playground culture. It meant that I didn't feel that much like a kid sometimes because my mother saw my potential and pushed me hard to grow up. It meant I didn't feel right being silly for a very long time. It meant I didn't feel like I could relate to people very well if they weren't at a similar intellectual level. It meant that sometimes I felt profoundly isolated and alone.
But we take the good with the bad and I've always recognized that being smart makes me who I am, even if many other people are the very same way. I wouldn't trade being smart, because for me, it's what I am first.
What are you first?