Smart – or Too Smart?

As long as I can remember, I have had the “smart guy” tag applied to me. It’s not really much different than always having been tall (definitely *not* me), or always outgoing and popular (again, not me), or always overweight (only in the last dozen years or so). The issues come about when one makes too much of the fact, or relies too much on their individual talent or exceptional characteristic.

In my own case, my social ineptitude was only magnified when my parents allowed my elementary school to move me up a grade…in the midst of the school year. To their credit, they did not allow the school to move me two grades, which would have been a complete disaster. As it was, I rapture victoria secret went from a class where I knew a few kids pretty well to a class of kids older than I was who had no intention of befriending the little nerd thrust into their lives.

Reflecting back on that time in my life, now nearly a half-century past, I can see the seeds sown of a life-long difficulty being accepted or fitting in, mostly of my own making. It was my intelligence that got me into the mess, and it was my intelligence that prolonged it.

At last, I think I am making progress at using my smarts as a tool instead of as an identity. Finally growing up when well past fifty years of age is a bit embarrassing, but I guess it beats never doing so at all.

The key for me was to begin to see with clear eyes how others viewed me. Because I identified so strongly and relied so heavily on being smart, others came to see me as a tool! “I don’t know the answer to number 4…let’s ask the smart guy!” I had become Mikey of cereal-commercial fame (“Give it to Mikey!” “Yeah…he’ll eat anything!!”).

Changing that perception was as simple as changing my own view of myself. Okay…maybe “simple” is not the way to put it, but it really was easy to do once I saw that I was creating the problem I had viewed for decades as being something others were doing to me. I’m a smart guy, yes. I’m also a shy person, a witty soul, and somewhat of an oddball. What I have only recently–and very consciously–become is someone who listens carefully to his friends when they want to talk. Someone who learns what makes others happy or feel good, and thinks of ways to provide those moments for them. Someone who is capable of caring a great deal about another who is not really very similar, yet almost a twin in some ways. Heck, it’s nothing exotic or fancy: I simply have learned how to be part of the human race!

Here’s the key: focus on the ways you are the same as someone else. That’s where the bonding opportunity lies. You can quickly get to the point with someone else that, by celebrating your similarity first, you can jointly enjoy your uniquenesses. Friendship is the best ship I know of for cruising this world, and you can go anywhere on it. I am glad to learn this lesson in my youth. After all, I have a life expectancy which projects me having almost as many years to go as I have already spent. My intent is to use that time to spread the word. We’re all unique, perfectly formed to be exactly who we are, and all stunningly the same in ways we can choose to see…or not. It’s that “not” part that has mankind in the morass it is in. We don’t belong there.

My passion, today, is to see us all grow beyond the “how are we different?” state, to the place where we can touch each other as individuals, where we can see beyond the labels, where we can find the common ground that eliminates the need to bleed. We don’t have to kill each other. We only think we do.


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