For sixteen years straight in every aspect of schooling the impression was forcefully given that intelligence is a golden key My ego was perpetually fluffed and inflated by superfluous praise and awe from educators how smart you are really seemed directly relevant to your opportunities and future success It has been terribly hard to accept seeing the dimwitted but rich peers of my youth surpass me in every way in adult society despite their utterly inert minds This precious gem I once thought I possessed has turned out to be nothing but fool's gold a useless trinket that means nothing to anyone besides me I wish someone had told me sooner that my potential amounted to mere pennies in a world where money is all that matters so I wouldn't feel so disappointed Somehow it feels like my fault that I never amounted to anything when everyone seemed so sure I was capable of great things Now I understand that intelligence is just a stupid, insignificant party trick all it offers in the end is an arrogance that makes it hard to accept your place
I wish someone had told me to hold onto all the people I once knew. I wish I had some way of knowing what I was throwing away, or at the very least letting fizzle out, watching with disinterest as my many fertile gardens of companionship withered in the hot sun of time. When you’re young, it’s hard to realize what you have. Everything just feels like it’s always been that way, that it will always be that way. Friends come and they go without much fear of social isolation. There will always be new peers, new classmates, new friends to take their place. Every school year is a new start, a new chance to build connections. After high school, there is always college to find your chosen family.
Six years after getting my Bachelors and only now am I beginning to realize the opportunities I squandered for all those years. I would always hear people saying that high school doesn’t matter. That you’ll leave those doors and all the people inside behind forever once you graduate. Not to worry about those relationships, because there will be plenty more that are more important in the future. Looking back, I wish instead they had said those years don’t have to matter. I realize now this was a message for people struggling in school, the social outcasts, the kids that felt like they’d never fit in or find friends. This message was a beacon of hope for them, a call to keep their courage as they moved out into new avenues of life. The point wasn’t that I shouldn’t invest effort in maintaining the relationships I did have. It wasn’t about devaluing the whole idea of childhood friends.
At the time, it seemed like a waste of energy, pathetic even, to try to cling to old friends that were no longer around you everyday. After all, there was a whole new pool of peers to meet and mingle with. Why reach out to people from the past? I never really gave much thought to the fact that the bonds I formed in college would one day become less convenient as well. What then? It was quite a shock when I started working full time to feel the difference between a classroom and a work place. Not only were there far less people to interact with in general, but those people were vary rarely of an age that I would consider my peers. We had very little in common. I already had trouble finding companions within my age group, let alone outside of it.
All these years later, I often find myself looking back on all the bridges I burned, wondering if there is any way I could salvage them, or if the other party has already forgotten me. I never understood how precious a childhood friendship truly is until it was too late. There is an empty space inside the new connections I make. There was something so special is the knowledge that the other person really knew you. They knew all of you. They had watched you grow up and you had known them just as intimately. That’s something you can never have with someone else, even if they tell you about who they used to be. You are still only seeing it through their eyes, only getting the bits they want to reveal. And something aches inside of me when I acknowledge that.
I’ve never been a risk taker, nor am I at all competitive. Gambling makes no sense at all to me. I’ve only done it a couple times and it was quite unsatisfying. I guess I’ve never thought of myself as very lucky either. I never really won anything. When you start out with that kind of mindset, why would you be competitive or take risks? It seems inevitable that they would only turn out badly for me. Unfortunately, taking risks is an important part of life. If you don’t participate, you’ll never be disappointed, but you also won’t ever advance.
Lately I have really been struggling about whether or not to take a big risk. I’m indecisive as it is, so it certainly doesn’t help when it’s an especially important life decision that I have to make. Although I love my job as a child advocate, I never intended to find myself here. Before accepting this job, my goal was to become a teacher. I went through the whole process to make myself eligible, then kind of forgot about it as I became more and more enmeshed in my new work environment. I never thought I could love my job so much. Not to mention I deeply enjoy spending time with the friends I’ve made here every day.
With funding cuts and our therapist, whom I’ve grown close to, leaving, I began exploring the idea of teaching again. After discovering that the funding has been somewhat fixed (thank god), I was prepared to put the teaching idea on the back burner again for awhile. Then one of the school districts near me put up a job opening for a third grade teacher! It is quite rare for there to be an position available in my small area. I had to at least send in my resume.
Now that I’ve done all I can, I’ve been trying to decide what I’d like to come of this if anything. Part of me is extremely excited at the idea. Although, originally I wanted to teach in a high school, now that I’ve had more experience with young children, third grade may be even better. I particularly loved third grade when I was in school. So maybe that’s a sign of some kind. It does seem like teaching will be more work than what my current position entails, but it would be so nice to have more stability, income, and time off. What a delight it would be to have snow days again!
There are definitely a lot of pros and cons to both outcomes. I guess I should consider myself lucky that that’s the case. For now, all I can do is wait to see what happens. I know I will make the best of whatever the future holds for me.
Intelligence and Mental Illness
I’ve always found it interesting that highly intelligent people often also suffer from depression or anxiety or some other affliction of the mind. I often find myself wondering why that is. After pondering the subject for quite some time, I think I’ve settled on a hypothesis of sorts.
Since I was very young, I have been told that I am very intelligent. I never had to study to get some of the highest marks in grade school and college. There were a lot of things that came very easily to me, which I saw my peers struggling with. Along with that intelligence, however, I have always suffered with mental illness. And it only seems to have gotten more pronounced since I have been out of school.
I don’t think that is a coincidence by any means. I’ve come to believe that losing that academic outlet has given my mind more time to fester and cultivate that mental illness. I think that without some type of distraction, some means of challenging myself, it’s easier to fall into anxious and brooding states of mind. Perhaps a highly intelligent mind requires more stimuli to keep it happy and healthy than one of average or low intelligence. That could explain why I am always trying to dull my sense with substances. And why many great minds throughout history have done the same.
I am always happier when I have something to occupy myself with, especially if it is truly engaging and requires intense focus. It was truly a gift to be in a learning environment for so many years among my peers. On my own I am not very good at staying busy. I don’t often have the courage to challenge myself willingly.
It seems like intelligent people who are highly motivated and have something they are passionate to work on aren’t as likely to be burdened by the symptoms of mental illness. However, this could be a “chicken and egg” scenario. Perhaps their motivation and passion is only possible because they aren’t suffering mentally.
Still I wonder how I can use this new insight of mine to improve my life. I feel like I am chasing my own tail in a sense. I know giving myself more to do, challenging my limits, will lead to more happiness. But at the same time, my severe anxiety keeps me from making any of those changes in my daily routine. It was nice to be somewhat forced into beneficial situations by structured education. I regret taking that for granted. Hopefully some day I can figure out a way to simulate something similar for myself on my own.
The Stress of College
I am now more than half way through my first week back at West Liberty University. I am now only taking classes corresponding to my major or minor. I thought that this would give me some sense of relief from the overwhelming stress that I usually experience during the school year. However, I have had no such luck. I have barely been given any assignments thus far and already I am feeling myself caught in the undertow.
I think for many people, college is merely a mental challenge. I, on the other hand, have no problem keeping up with the material or scoring good grades on exams. The thing that makes college a challenge for me is the futility of it all. Luckily, I have been able to receive a full scholarship, but nonetheless, I still sit idly by year after year and watch hundreds of dollars disappear along with countless hours of my life. I just cannot seem to justify this to myself. Yet, I allow it to continue for lack of a better alternative.
I believe for truly intelligent students college can be emotionally exhausting. It is quite difficult to keep yourself interested in something that you feel is a scam and is not really aiding your development. There is no guarantee that a college degree will get me a job and certainly no guarantee that I will be happy with a job in my field even if I do get one. I mean, how are we supposed to know what type of job that we want to have for the rest of our lives straight out of high school? I don’t even know all of the jobs that are available, let alone what it would be like to work at any of them. Even in the best case scenario, college will hand me straight into the working world where I will toil the majority of my life away for just a bit more money than it takes to merely survive. I don’t want that. It is a devastating idea.
But what else am I supposed to do? I don’t have enough faith in my ability in anything else to give up a full scholarship to pursue. I don’t even have time to consider any alternatives because my college classes take up most of my time and energy. I feel as though I am trapped in a raging river heading toward a future that I cannot bear. There must be something better I could be doing with my precious youth. I don’t want to wake up one day full of regret, but what can I do?
Somedays I drown in the thought that I have nothing left to look forward to in my life and that my best days are now behind me. I wish that this country’s education system would have given me more of a chance. I have always felt as though I had something special to offer the world, but maybe I will never discover what that is.
Let me know what your college experience was/is like. How do you deal with such hopeless thoughts? I would gladly accept any ideas or advice.
Stay strong, sweet ones. ❤