This may sound like a strange name for a blog post. I mean, how can someone struggle with their own intelligence and stupidity at the same time? Surely, “you mean the stupidity of one subject that you cannot grasp?” I hear you typing in the comments or on socheeredcial media. No, dear reader, that is not correct. When I use the words stupidity and intelligence, it is meant overall in my life and not just a single topic of conversation.
As of writing, I am 31 years old and for the past 31 years, I have been stupid. At least, I think that. This means that my general knowledge, life experience, and the thing I should be most proud of – the thing that pays the bills – my writing, too is idiotic in its nature.
A brief history of mine
From what I can remember, it all started early on in my school career, as most things do. Now, I say “what I can remember” and that’s the truth. My memory is pretty terrible, and on more than one occasion I’m picked on about it – sometimes weekly. There’s not much I can change about it because I probably cannot remember your name or the thought I held moments ago. A few years ago I said it was due to my brain working overtime, processing copious amounts of thoughts, problems, and creative conundrums, but who knows. I hate it and it makes learning things I’m “supposed” to know a chore. But, I digress.
Early on in my school career, I did okay. My pre-school teacher was upset that I couldn’t write my name, but in grades one and two, my reading was… okay. I wasn’t big into reading but did what I had to in school. When it came to basic mathematics, that too was okay. It’s only as I progressed up levels that I started to fall behind in one way in another. This could have been either the start of (or due to) my depression, which I’ve written about before. But, I don’t actually know.
What I remember is that one day I was “dumb”. I doubted everything I said or did, taking every single action and word into careful consideration before I did anything at all. I remember a few kids telling me I was stupid, some teachers as well. And from there it only compiled.
In primary school, I was in the computer club and managed to get into the top tier class. I could program in BASIC and do a range of things with DOS – far more than the teachers could. I once got in trouble during a computer class in high school, because I was helping fellow students with something that the teacher couldn’t (thanks, Fairmont High).
During my teens, I was decent at general knowledge, for which I thank the copious amounts of TV shows and movies that I’d consume. Ask me about the time Laurence (Larry) Fishburne was an orderly in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, or the episode of the 1990s Spider-Man animated series where he meets the Carnage version of himself. Heck, I was pretty decent at 30 Seconds, which I still don’t know if I should be ashamed of or not.
From there, it’s all sort of a blur. I know that for at least the past decade I’ve been an unintelligent mess. Someone who now struggles with general knowledge, the general goings on in the world, and everything I’m supposed to know as a 31-year-old person. It’s terrifying and it’s awful.
This is only compounded by myself. I tell people that I’m stupid while giving off a smile. I laugh off accomplishments or any praise I receive, because, to me, it’s just a fluke and something that will never be remembered again. Hell, I tell myself the same things. I never went to university and I almost failed matric (partially because I stopped caring about it) – around my old group of friends, I always felt inferior. Even when it comes to writing, I don’t think I’m all that great at it, but I always try to improve.
There’s a bit of knowledge here and there
Thing is, I did think this way. Recently, I’ve started to feel a little less dumb. Like trying to remember the distant past of my life, I cannot tell you when this started to occur. I’ve been reading more and managed to complete the final two books in the 2001: A Space Odyssey series within a few days, which is a feat for me. I am now reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and want to read The Satanic Bible as well because I want to understand the world around me and the different views and opinions of the people around me. And I still need to finish my copy of The Inferno (by Dante, not Dan Brown) – all heavy reading, I assure you.
I’ve started to have an insatiable thirst for knowledge that I cannot quench. I want to devour books left, right, and centre. I want to understand people’s opinions and motives more, and I want to try and figure out this world and this body that I inhabit. This could be because of my supportive fiance, my encouraging manager, or some new friends I’ve made since my divorce (read: my old life). I’m not sure what brought it on, but I’m liking it.
And even with reading these dense texts, having these long conversations, and the observations of daily life, I still feel incredibly stupid. Last week, I took a Google Analytics test for work and aced it without having read over or watched the course material. And while the certificate was celebrated by those around me, I wasn’t happy. I’m an imposter and a fraud. I am imposter syndrome personified, which is hyperbole, I know.
And yet, it frustrates me when someone automatically assumes that I’m stupid. If a person tells me something I already know or tries to “educate” me on a topic I understand through social media or in person.
Like Atlas, I shrug
During high school I started two companies, I was a manager at an online shop, I’ve run my own online shop, I’ve chaired a conference on fintech in Africa, I’ve been on radio and TV, penned a few short stories and a novel, and was a business and technology journalist. These are achievements, or at least people tell me they are. I don’t think they are, and I don’t know why.
Life is difficult. Struggling to grasp my own stupidity and intelligence is difficult.
This post isn’t to incite sympathy or pity for me; it’s just to get these things out in the open. After all, we all need to talk.