My freshman year of high school was a pretty rough one. I'd just moved, and spent the first six months of the school year living in an RV parked at my grandmother's house with my dad and my sister. My mom had just been diagnosed, and I was carrying a lot of guilt over that. Also, the last part of the previous school year, my once impeccable straight-A track record had been tarnished with my first (and only) B, due to a bunch of crap I won't go into, but the point is that I'd lost my drive to achieve academically, and shaken my own confidence in my abilities. For someone who had always defined herself on her performance, that was really difficult to deal with. But, over the first couple months, I got my bearings, connected to me geeky over-achieving self, and kicked everything back up where it was supposed to be.
Yeah, I was *that* girl in high school. The one who would be disappointed when she finished her Calc homework.
So, through this ass-busting process, I was invited to go out for the Quiz Bowl team. Apparently my nerdiness translated well even though I didn't really have any friends and no one really knew me and I was actually pretty quiet during classes. (Evidence since then has shown that I have an unshakeable aura of nerdiness, apparently, regardless of what I say or do. Such a curse. Anyway.) I went to the "tryouts" and they handed me a buzzer and put me on a team and started running a practice match. Of course, my brain is chock full of random knowledge, and so I answered probably 75% of the questions asked. The other people were pretty annoyed that they didn't get much chance to buzz in.
After that and another practice round, as we were all packing up and leaving, a girl who was in one of my classes (Public Speaking, in which I was the only freshman and a teacher's pet after the first week) came up to me and said, "You are so smart!"
Now, I get this a lot. It started in kindergarten when I already knew how to read before the rest of the class started learning, and continues to this day. I am smart. I have made it a point to keep my brain in good form, full of knowledge, and more importantly, able to make connections, solve puzzles, and figure things out efficiently. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with good genes (my parents are both pretty intelligent), the fact that I was raised on game meats (my dad was a hunter and fisher when I was really young - we were *really* poor, so we didn't get processed foods and preservative filled stuff until we were much older; it was all fish fresh from the river and deer and antelope right off the mountains), and the fact that my parents encouraged good intellectual habits. But I've continued that commitment, and so, yeah....I'm pretty damn smart.
So, this girl tells me "You are so smart!" and like anyone who's well aware of their strengths and also trying to be gracious and not an asshole, I said, "Thank you." Later on, a mutual acquaintance told me that the second I walked away, this chick who'd admired my brilliance proceeded to rant for ten minutes about how I thought I was so smart and so much better than everyone else and maybe I wasn't really all that smart, anyway, just a know-it-all bitch.
Do I think being smart makes me better than anyone else? No. Just different. Some people can dance well, some people can paint or draw or garden well, some people are caring and kind and loving....I'm smart. I try not to lord it over people, or even make it obvious, because to me, it's not important. It's just a skill I have, one more tool in my personal bag of tricks, and no more or less useful than any of a hundred other talents.
What can I say? I'm a proud woman. Always have been, always will be.
Last night I learned that I am proud of being human. I'm proud of being imperfect, fallible, and flawed. I guess that means, to me, that I'm proud of having room to grow, and of admitting that I'm not quite "enlightened" yet.
Realizing this made me wonder if maybe I don't allow for other people to be human, though. Do I allow for mistakes in myself, but expect others to be perfect? Tough question. Historically speaking, I think I've been pretty good about allowing room for and accepting people's "flaws" - in fact, I think there've been times when I enjoyed people for those "flaws" because they also admitted they were human and had lessons yet to learn and obstacles yet to overcome. In some cases, I think I've been too ready to allow for imperfection, almost some sort of masochistic Jesus complex thing where I allow people to exercise their imperfections all over me in the hopes that allowing them to do so will make them stop? Not very logical, but I think it sums up some of my past behaviors.
I think that it's not that I can't allow people to be human...it's that maybe I can't allow people to avoid realizing they're human. It's so integral to my being to understand myself, the good and the "bad" - not with a sense of shame or guilt, but just in an assessive way - how can I fix a problem I don't know exists? So, I'm big on seeing what's there and dealing with it honestly...and it's hard for me to respect someone who refuses to be honest with themselves. I don't understand choosing ignorance when it's not your only option.
I admit that I'm judgmental and prone to seeing potential and wanting it to manifest...but do I allow people to be human? I don't know. I think so. I hope so.
But maybe not.
Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.