The Downsides of Being Smart

A podcast listener named Amy Young writes in with interesting comments about our recent “Can You Be Too Smart For Your Own Good?” episode:

As I hold a Ph.D., I too feel well qualified to speak on topics I know nothing about.  Actually, the Ph.D. is in psychology, I am somewhat qualified to speak about the topic; however, most of my info comes from having a very bright son and having to do a lot of research to try to figure out how to raise him.

One downfall of being particularly bright is that you are often lonely.  You see and think of stuff that most other people don’t see or understand, so it can be hard to feel a genuine connection with most others.  What is really exciting to you goes right over the heads of most others.  As you get older this gets to be easier to solve by finding your flock, but I think loneliness in the formative years always sticks to you.  

Another downfall is that exceptionally bright people have a high drop-out rate from school, particularly high school. It seems counterintuitive until you spend a day in our public school system.  Bright kids see school as not providing any useful information and find it creates a lot of boring busy work.  On that note, a really great topic for you to explore is the economic impact of the teacher’s union’s stronghold on the American public education system. 

Also, in terms of gender and smarts, a downfall of being bright is social exclusion, which can be devastating for most girls.  As for the low marriage rates among bright women, I think most bright women avoided marriage in the past as it often meant staying home to perfect souffles and iron underwear.  I would imagine that to be torturous for bright women and could possibly be the inspiration for the Rolling Stones’ song “Mother’s Little Helper.”

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COMMENTS: 70


  1. Nick says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • James says:

      Obviously written by someone who never spent time being a smart kid.

      I am familiar with the emotional intelligence theory, but I also realized that if you rate humans’ emotional intelligence on a scale of 0-100, the average dog would score about 250.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 24
    • Francesco L. says:

      As a matter of fact, neither Maslow’s hierarch of needs nor the “emotional intelligence theory” have nothing to do with the content of what Amy Young said.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1
    • Linch says:

      I think what Nick was trying to get at(albeit not very well) was that different types of intelligence correlate well with one another. Simply put, somebody with high analytical (stereotypical) intelligence will also have a better than even chance of having higher than average emotional intelligence. This appears to contradict our stereotype of the socially awkward and lonely nerd.

      That said, I don’t think this contradicts with much, if any, of what Amy said. Though it’s becoming slightly better for my generation, traditionally, the sheer amount of effort needs to be “popular” in high school is quite staggering, especially for girls. Just because I’m more capable of analyzing emotions from a textbook case or that i have a slightly greater proclivity to develop social skills doesn’t mean I actually desire to develop them. Further, even if I do have social skills, I may not be as inclined to use them to my ut,ost with people whose interests or methods of communication I perceive to be blase and trivial. And if you believe intelligence is at least partially based on what you focus on and hard work, not just genetics, then it stands to reason that kids who enjoy rocket science or postmodern poetry or programming or whatever simply don’t have the time to be as popular or develop their social circle as much, especially in the jungle of superficiality and pointlessness that is our memetic image of a “stereotypical” high school.

      There is an overall positive correlation between intelligence and happiness for adults though, presumably at least in part because of the greater freedom to choose your own social circle (obviously the earnings difference and improved health outcomes can’t hurt)

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  2. Robert McGimpsey Jr says:

    Thank You…….

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  3. David Tschanz says:

    As a person with several degrees I can relate to the above comment. The real problems ARE an intellectual loneliness (which does improve over time simply because you find friends in the same boat) and social exclusion.

    Another factor, unmentioned above, is the sheer frustration of getting it while other people don’t – as if you’re idling while they try to figure out the ignition switch. This also improves over time and I honestly think a big change in your life comes when you realize they’re not getting it because they can’t, not because they are trying to drive you nuts :)

    I was fortunate that I didn’t have a negative high school experience – I went to a Jesuit high school in CT where excellence was expected and intellectual arrogance not allowed to develop. Especially since Jesuit education implies everyone excels in something, its simply a matter of finding it.

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    • too smart says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. JohnnyPeps says:

    I think a lot of smart people use intelligence to explain away negative things that would more accurately be attributed to arrogance.

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    • dink says:

      Or maybe you might just not get it because you haven’t experienced it and aren’t seeing that what looks to you like arrogance may, at times, be something else entirely that you are misjudging. Sometimes it really just “takes one to know one” after all.

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  5. David W. says:

    While I understand Amy Young’s perspective, she uses the term “bright” in a narrow, divisive context; as though there are no “bright” children who are capable of normal social interaction. It is easy to believe that when your child has trouble connecting with people it is because other kids can’t keep up, but there are likely concept and connections those children make that your “bright” child wouldn’t be able to. I am sure there are bright women who would love to be mothers, and it’s perfectly obvious that there are plenty of “bright” kids who get a lot out of schoolwork.

    Most people are “bright” in one way or another, and while our society/educational system could be better at making it easy for people to interact with each other, and giving more support to children who do not learn well in its current structure, I find her implied distinction between “bright” and average to be short-sighted.

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    • Ani says:

      I respectfully disagree with the view that the OP uses the term “bright” as too narrow and divisive. I identify with every word she wrote, and that’s because I was a “bright” child who grew into a normal socially adjusted adult. I was very lucky to have a supportive school environment, and a sense of self-worth that was high enough to not allow the temporary social exclusion (especially during adolescence) to impact my life. I follow all the rules of normal social interaction, which allows me to easily interface with people of all intelligences and quite varied socio-economic groups.

      But you don’t want to ever be inside my head, because the levels of boredom and impatience I’ve had to overcome and still experience are enormous. Yes, we all find our own flocks – I was exceptionally lucky in that way – but it’s hard work, made that much harder by the rules of our society, especially if you are female.

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      • David W. says:

        Hi Ani,

        I didn’t mean to say that these issues aren’t very real to some people. Intellectual loneliness, social exclusion, boredom in school, etc. are all common and unfortunate barriers that people of “above average intellect” must encounter and hopefully overcome. However, our society views intelligence in a limited light, and in my experience many of the people who are deemed average in academia are not given the credit they deserve…conversely, people who experience the symptoms of intellectual superiority described above are quick to dismiss those who do not experience said issues. Most people are much “brighter” than we give them credit for and have not been given the appropriate resources, or simply don’t work within the established system well enough to be recognized. There are plenty of ways not to fit into society, and I find it frustrating that the OP, with her PhD in Psychology, has no trouble conforming to the labels of “bright” and average.

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    • Ryan says:

      I agree with David. In today’s society we define intelligence in a very specific way. In my experience, most really talented hockey players I’ve met would not be called intelligent in a traditional way. However, they’re brains are just focused on a different task. Think of the cognitive load required to skate around a hockey rink at break-neck speeds with 11 others all while trying to simultaneously hit a small puck through a goal and prevent certain others from hitting it through your goal. If your brain has been trained to solve that problem, why would expect it to succeed at solving differential equations?

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      • James says:

        Well, my dogs can both catch tennis balls in their mouth, which I can’t do. Does that mean they’re more intelligent than I am? (OK, I admit that I’m not too sure about the Border Collie myself, but for sure I’m smarter than the pitbullish mutt.)

        OTOH, while I’ve never played hockey (nor wanted to), I do many other physical activities that would seem to require similar levels of physical/mental activity, and do them at a reasonable amateur level of competence. So if I, like many other “smart kids”, can do these things AND solve differential equations as well, what does that say?

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      • @kirkisThinking says:

        James / Ryan – Being able to use understanding to see perspectives of intersecting intelligences is what is my understanding of true balanced intelligent person and would include the ability to see the physics/socio/primal aspects (to name a few) of hockey at a far greater level. This “knowledge” creates the ability. Or the reverse. One intelligence is the same as the other, just different. :)

        Amy – you bring up a good point on sexism with regard to intelligence. The most intelligent women I think are more likely to be shy, most likely due to sociological pressures from the perception of strong intelligent women.

        Thanks for your incites Amy !
        Nice find Stephen !

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    • Bright Loner says:

      …complained the “bright” kid.

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    • Pshrnk says:

      Are you from Lake Woebegone?

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      • Cory says:

        Maybe or maybe not, but it appears most of the commentators are. Seems like everyone has an IQ of about 140, kids who are in the top 10% (if not top 5%) of academic performance, and understand the apparent deep loneliness Ms. Young reports.

        Seems to me that asking people about their (or their kids’) IQs is like asking people about their driving skills. 80% think they are way above average. I know there’s some self-selection bias in who is reading and commenting, but color me skeptical.

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  6. Brian says:

    Speaking to the “loneliness” of other people not understanding the same topics…one of the greatest skills is the ability to take complex subjects and make them accessible to the masses.

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    • Sven P says:

      While that is true, you can’t reason about complex subjects in their simplified and toned down form.
      In order to have interesting conversations about complex subjects (and in order to gain more understanding about them), you’d need to be able to reason about them in all their complexity.

      Think about it this way: you can only make complex subjects accessible to the masses if you have a profound understanding of these subjects, otherwise you wouldn’t know which parts can be simplified, which parts can be skipped over and which parts can be “translated” in analogies that are broadly understood by said masses.
      That profound understanding is only possible when you can discuss the topics with people who understand the topics at least on the same level.

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    • James says:

      Agreed, but the problem is that even when subjects – not necessarily complex ones, just those that are out of everyday routine – are made accessible to the masses, the majority of those masses have little interest in accessing them, and absolutely none in actually understanding them.

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    • Farquart Niedenbaum says:

      The challenge is to have enough patience and emotional acuity to know when to stop explaining. After a while it can be grating on people who may not feel you passion for the subject. I had to learn this the hard way many times. Being older now it is easier to know what is appropiate for each audience. As saddening as it may seem I think that in modern society and pop-culture there is a certain passion for remaining ignorant. The fool is idolized and the genius is pitied.

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      • Chibinium says:

        “Answer, don’t enlighten.” Unsolicited enlightenment breeds resentment and wastes your time. Being smart doesn’t mean one can grow things out of nowhere; we are only human, and even the best hydroponic techniques require fertilizer to preexist. But if there is the fertilizer of motivation, your crops will be much taller!

        But is it wrong to seek fertile fields, and leave the others to dust? Depends if you think noblesse oblige comes with being bright.

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    • tmeier says:

      Certainly the ability to present something so that it is just a bit challenging/intriguing but not confusing is very well rewarded. Panders have always made a good living and you can’t go wrong with flattering the masses.

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    • woof says:

      It gets tiring to explain. The similar individuals who get things without lengthy explanations are few and far between…

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  7. Wendy says:

    Being dumb is pretty lonely also.

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  8. Enter your name... says:

    A few years back, I dealt with a school that only accepted young children in the top 5% of academic ability. It was interesting to notice the differences between children who started there at age 5 and those who transferred in at age 10 from the (pretty good) local public schools. You could watch a class for a day and pick them out once you’d been around for a while.

    The main differences that have stuck with me were that the kids who had always been around bright kids (there or at a similar school) had more normal peer relationships and had a more nuanced understanding of their skills (“I’m one of the best at reading, but not at math or music”). The ones who had five years in a typical mixed-ability classroom were more likely to seek out adults during recess instead of peers and more likely to see academic achievement as an all-or-nothing issue (“I’m supposed to be the best at everything”).

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    • Enter your name... says:

      I’ll add this: In dealing with teens and college students who were equally bright, but who never escaped the mixed-ability classrooms, I’d say that the quickest screening question to identify them is this: “Do you like it when your teacher gives group assignments?”

      Bright and motivated kids are usually disgusted by group projects, which leave them a choice between them doing (or re-doing) most of the work to protect their grades, or risking their grades so that the group’s grade reflects the average contribution to the project.

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      • Violent Violet says:

        THIS… with the added bonus of being declared “bossy” if you see someone doing something inefficiently or wrong, and try to help them do it smarter.

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  9. Liz Busby says:

    The severity of all these things–the social isolation, the school boredom, the lack of suitable marriage partners–depends on how far along you are on the IQ normal curve. 120 on the IQ scale (between 1 and 2 standard deviations) has often been claimed as “optimal intellect”: high enough to give you an advantage over average IQ individuals, but not so high as to result in social isolation.

    Many “bright” kids fall into the 120-130 range, where they can cruise along through life easily. It is the highly gifted, profoundly gifted, and genius level children who have the most trouble. School isn’t just easy, it’s mind-numbing; people aren’t just a little slower, they don’t even come close to understanding your interests. These are kids who begin spontaneously reading and doing arithmetic long before they can use a toilet–long before their parents think to even try to teach them. How can a child who reads novels in preschool not be profoundly bored and isolated when other kids are struggling to learn ABCs?

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    • Adam says:

      While I generally agree with your comment I would argue a few points. I didn’t have any social troubles in primary school, middle school or high school. My IQ is 136. While kids didn’t really understand my interests, it was very easy for me to understand a wide variety of theirs. I could almost become a quasi expert in what they liked. I think social awkwardness is a failure on the parents’ part, not a school or society’s. My mother always taught me that human interaction was one of the most important parts of life.

      However, I struggled endlessly with busywork. Like you said, I became bored with the work very quickly. My grades in middle school and beyond were terrible. I always passed tests with flying colors and was placed in AP courses. I was in the Gifted and Talented Enrichment program and Future Problem Solvers but I just could not complete homework assignment after homework assignment.

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      • momosgarage says:

        I had the same problem with passing tests but just couldn’t stop myself from ignoring homeowrk. However, now that I am a working adult and have been doing so for quite sometime, I feel that “homework” is a form of social conditioning and not an actual academic tool. Essentially, you’re supposed to “get used to doing busy work” because for most people regardless of how financially successful they are, busy work induced by bureaucracy will always be forced upon EVERYONE, except those luck enough to be born into multi-generational wealth or those who fall into the entertainment business as an actor, pro athlete, etc.

        I do agree, it is on the parents to make sure the kid has social skills, so as to survive the social jungles that we all, wage slave, peons must travel through in life without recourse: elementary school, junior high school, undergrad, grad school, first job, subsequent job, last job , nursing home.

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  10. Programmer at Arms says:

    I have known many idiots who held doctorate degrees. I have known many truly bright people who never felt lonely.

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  11. Neil says:

    I have a PhD in Psych too. However, I am always in awe at how smart everyone around me is.
    Was I lonely in high school? Sure, but who wasn’t? There were plenty of people in band and on chess team. They are still good friends.
    I married the first-chair band geek and we are wonderfully happy together (18 years later).
    We moved to a suburban community made of similar nerdy parents. We brag whose kids understand less about basketball and football while attending swim meets, recitals, and cub scout meetings. Our kids play well, are well-adjusted, and should be able to contribute to the world well.
    We did not hold our kids back when entering school because we don’t want them to be engaged, not bored. Yeah, it’s a downside, but there are often outlets for learning that are better than sitting in a boring class. One just has to seek them out.
    I’m yet to see a downside to having aesthetic understandings of as many domains as possible (and isn’t that the goal of the goofy construct we call “intelligence?”). The world just keeps getting more interesting.

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  12. Ryan N says:

    If you have never felt loneliness, persecution or frustration from being too smart, odds are you’re just not THAT smart.

    Using a blunt instrument like IQ just for brevity’s sake, 130 IQ people are quite smart. 2 standard deviations smarter than average, by definition. These people tend to think of themselves as pretty smart, do very well in school, and usually are extremely effective at whatever their jobs and hobbies are. They have every reason to consider themselves very smart.

    That said, they don’t have a whole lot in common with the experiences of the 145+ IQ people. People in this group tend to view the world quite differently, and conversely, are viewed by the world quite different.

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  13. Caleb B says:

    I was a smart kid that hated elementary. One day in third grade, my teacher gave us a word search. I refused to do it and proceeded to doodle on back. She asked me why I wasn’t doing my work and I said, “because it is busy work. You just want us quite for 10 minutes.” She told me I would get a zero if I didn’t do the work and I said, “I’m not learning anything with this assignment. I don’t care what grade I get on it.”

    Yeah, I didn’t get along with the other kids either.

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    • momosgarage says:

      The world is getting more interesting, but accessing it is not free. It all cost money and that cost is increasing beyond wage increases

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  14. Lisa Sansom (@LVSConsulting) says:

    I was identified as “gifted” and now I’m going through the same thing with my child. “Giftedness” isn’t a complete gift – there are ups and downs, and social isolation is definitely part of it. Of course, we know from Howard Gardner’s work that there are many different intelligences. We also know that traditional schools only recognize a couple of them. So observations such as this may be specific to the traditional educational system (and I do agree with Amy’s points). That said, I’m happy to feel that I’ve found my way after all, and I work hard with my child to help create a better path.

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  15. K Goodman says:

    I can attest to this phenomenon. I have extremely bright (gifted) children (3 ages 16, 14 and 12) and they have had a very hard time with finding friends that are like them. Fortunately we live in Lee County Florida where we have school choice so they have had more opportunities than most. My 16 year old son has already completed about 40 hours of college and my 14 year old is on track for similar achievements since we have a Collegiate charter high school. My 12 year old is a straight A student and is bored with the busy work just like the older two.

    One of the best things we did was get them involved with the Duke Tip program which offered them the opportunity to meet other kids like them. It opened a whole new world to them. I do think bright girls and women are frowned upon and discouraged frequently. Smart women are considered aggressive and pushed down often. Men with the same intellect and abilities are encouraged to achieve. We have a lot of work to do to improve the achievement of both sexes in this country and most of it has to do with attitude. We need to open doors for bright kids (and adults) rather then holding them back till everyone else catches up.

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  16. Bob says:

    I’m of the opinion that if you’re exceptionally smart, then social conventions won’t be that hard to figure out, and you can solve the loneliness problem. The problem is that parents/teachers neglect social conventions to focus on maximizing academic knowledge. Keeping up the geek/nerd stereotype doesn’t help either. For me, yes, high school created a lot of boring busy work, but I figured out early that to make the experience worthwhile I had to relate to students who couldn’t recite lots of information that would be useless to the average high school student. Since I wasn’t learning much new academically, I just paid attention to how people interacted with each other and learned that.

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    • Enter your name... says:

      I know some (extremely) bright people who have set out to learn human social interactions exactly like a xenoanthropologist might study Martian social interactions. The result was successful in the sense that they became adept at the “language”—hold head at this angle to indicate that you’re listening, keep eye contact for this long to indicate interest, speak for this much of the conversation—but that’s not the same thing as them enjoying these social interactions or receiving the emotional benefits that come from truly relating to someone and understanding their experiences.

      (There are benefits to studying this: Not only can you “pass” for being average if you want, one of them became very, very good at sales work, and, if they had been burdened with fewer ethical constraints, they would have made fantastic con artists.)

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    • Nil says:

      Social conventions aren’t the cause of the loneliness problem as much as lack of close personal connections. As an extremely high IQ teen I could easily sit down with any clique at lunch, go hang out or party with any group of popular kids, jocks, nerds, music geeks, punks, goths, etc.

      The issue was finding a best friend or close friend who was an equal. Being awesome at social interaction can make you a casual friend to almost everyone, but I think it is still more lonely being everyone ~25th favorite person to spend time with than it is to be the outcast who has 1-2 really close friends.

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  17. Dave says:

    So sad you think you notice things other people don’t or that your thoughts go over their head. You really don’t know how little you do know.

    Once you realize every person is your superior in some way then your flock will have no end.

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  18. Joules says:

    Despite my lack of a PhD I’ve often been called “bright”, “smart”, and “brilliant” by many *with* PhDs so I feel well qualified to agree with this article. I was horrified at the aspect of getting married because I felt it would negatively affect my autonomy. I wasn’t concerned that my spouse would be abusive or controlling, no, I was concerned that I would develop a designation and that would be used in the place of my name.

    Which is exactly what happened when I got married. There are now a slew of people who know nothing of me and care to know nothing of me outside of the fact that I’m married to their friend.

    My fears have now migrated towards an aversion to motherhood. I’ve already got a man-child to care for, books to read, movies to see, plays to force my friends to go to… The second to last thing I’m going to do is add diapers and kid-friendly dinners to that list. The last thing I’m going to do is add more designations, that come with no increase in pay, to the end of my name.

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    • Violent Violet says:

      I never wanted to be defined by my husband (didn’t change my name, which was practically unheard of 25 yrs ago) and we never wanted kids to cramp our lifestyle, either, so we were careful to not have any.

      You’re not alone! There are thousands of women who think like this!

      http://reddit.com/r/childfree

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      • K says:

        Good thinking. I can’t think of any good reason why anyone would want to have kids. It’s a decision that’s mostly motivated by social pressure, a misplaced sense of duty, or simply a delusional belief that it will bring happiness.

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      • robyn g says:

        Dear Violet, I added the name of my husband to my first published book because it was the only way in which I could thank him for his’ part in this book’s completion (since the publisher would not allow me to say thanks on the inside cover). This was in 1995 and our daughter was four at the time. She was difficult for the very reason of having an inquiring mind and being stubborn minded from day one. Funny story. She was around 2 ish and wanted to go to a an American Diner. We pass a restaurant that was, as the sign read, “serving dinner.” Not knowing the spelling made going to an ‘American dinner” easy. We all now laugh. But in hindsight, some kids need a great deal of tlc i.e., real attention to meet their needs. Perhaps she really was and still is almost too smart for her own good. But being a parent is a lifetime committment to a relationship with your unique child. And, for me, a definate plus. Would not have missed this experience for the world. And am fortunate to have a husband who is easy going in many respects and understands. Speaking for myself, I will say that my daughter is no “cramp” to our style but is a continual source of enrichment, delight and challenge. AS far as my work is concerned, I mean understanding family is so much a part of my work in sociology, I find it hard to imagine the two as anything but complementary. The men who think that women should not be valued as individuals perhaps “wanted” (in the primitive sense) or needed their mothers all to themselves.

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  19. Kyrie says:

    I’ve heard most of my life how smart I am. As a female, I’ve found brains and looks do not help me as much as one would think. In school, the teachers praised me for my smarts and that made me a pariah to classmates. Dates would enjoy my barbie exterior until they found out that I was more intelligent. Most companies value teamwork, which is my idea of hell. In my current job, my output is 3x higher than my teammates. As I’m still a temp after 11 months, this does not bode well. I’m a geek that would love to attend many a TED conference, if it wasn’t for the fact that I still have to attempt to earn a living. Still looking for my flock.

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  20. cee says:

    I completely relate, but the author makes me think they actually aren’t very intuitive or smart, appearing to utterly miss the obvious: Mother’s little helper was written about pills like valium.

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  21. srinivasan says:

    I think times hav changed,today most of the women are bright and smart.And also they are enjoying lives as well.So the Actual idea of one has to be alone if he/she has to be bright is fundamentally wrong.Modern day women rae more intelligent to find a way to balance both the career and family life.Men are ready to marry a smart woman than a girl who just nods her head for whatever the husband has to say.

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    • Violent Violet says:

      Men’s “Invisible Backpacks” are so lightweight and comfortable these days, aren’t they?

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  22. Steve Cebalt says:

    First, Amy deserves a lot of credit for opening herself up and for a very cogent analysis. The original question “Can you be too smart for your own good” depends on context. A rocket scientist or brain surgeon who uses his/her intelligence in their work and has like-minded peers to socailize with, is in good shape. If he/she worked in a dull repetitive factory job, not so much. The social problems seem paramount, and you don’t have to be smart to feel isolated. I am not so smart but I am a hard core news and politics junkie. But there are only 2 people in my circle who share those interests, meaning that my “knowledge” does me little good. That problem may be compounded when you are so smart you have very true real peers. My own problem is that I am far too good looking for my own good, but that’s for another forum I suppose.:)

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  23. M says:

    I can’t figure out what the narrow definition of bright in the comments mean. According to Amy, most bright ones are already out of the school system. So looking at another perspective… those holding a Phd might not be bright, just well educated.

    How people come to the conclusion that Amy refers to only academically inclined as bright is beyond me.

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  24. jrod says:

    Gotta love the internet no one is afraid to tell you how smart they are!

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  25. wholesale lingerie says:

    Or maybe you might just not get it because you haven’t experienced it and aren’t seeing that what looks to you like arrogance may, at times, be something else entirely that you are misjudging.

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  26. Tiago says:

    Altough I liked the text, I don’t particularly agree with inteligent people dropping out of school, more of enterpreneurs kind of people like Gates and Jobs (In my humble opinion).
    But I understand that it may hit the underclass intelligent people (due the inherent notion that college is probably not an affordable option).

    Still, great text. I’m working on my master’s degree and I could relate to a lot of what’s written there!

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  27. Scot says:

    Being proud of being smart is kinda like being proud of being pretty. Try to learn a little humility. God made you smarter than the average bear, so be smart enough to learn a little patience. Look for the good in the people around you and you will find it. Life is not all about being pretty, smart, or talented. Whatever your God-given talents, don’t take them for granted and make the most of them, but leave the arrogance out of it. You’ll be happier for it and so will those around you. Just remember, not many people die wishing they had been a little wealthier, a little smarter, a little prettier, or a little more talented. They wish they had a little more time and a little more friends.

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  28. Millie says:

    Interesting post! I am bright, not a genius but a member of Mensa. I have not marred becase I don’t belive the fairy tale. I don’t believe that most people will love each other ’til death do they part, so I think it’s silly and a setup for disappointment to pretend they will. I have also foun with the men I have lived with that they thought I should do all of the housework and basically take care of them, and I think that is very unfair. Really, it’s stupid to think that because I have a uterus I should have to do the dishes and vacuum.
    So I am all set, and much happier living on my own. I have no plans to marry.

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    • re happiness says:

      Dear Millie;

      What does a real marriage have to do with a fairy tail of unfulfilled expectations. A real relationship grows and grows on ya both. As for the housework, my husband loves to cook. I do it once and a while and a bit erratically (not that I hate to cook, but am busy with other things (except for my apple pies). If I were alone, I would make my 5 minute salad and be satisfied. He makes these wonderful dishes. As for dishes, my husband insists. He was in the reserves and learned there the “right” way so I leave him alone. I like taking care of certain rooms. As for happiness, Durkheim describes the general benefit to men and cost to women. But another sociologist predicted what will happen when women gain the real respect we deserve. Seems to me that both parties benefit as far as “happiness” is concerned.

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  29. helmfer says:

    There seems to be some confusion about the words ‘smart’ and ‘bright’. I would agree with Amy about ‘seeing things and thinking stuff most other people don’t see’ and loneliness. But I would call that ‘conscious’ maybe and not so much ‘bright’. Understanding that people are being exploited, while they themselves don’t, or seeing how someone is ruining his health without him being aware of it, does not make you necessarily happier. And that can lead to isolation.

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  30. Ray GAETANO says:

    High school has ap courses, and sometimes the possibility of courses at local colleges. Others graduate in 3 years. High school is what you make of it.

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  31. Miriam Pia says:

    I read this article. Hm. I think that everyone can feel lonely at times, since everyone really is an individual. I think that how that occurs can seem different for people who feel like it is because of having an intellectual interest rather than being freaked out by the neighbor’s stepfather or something but in the end it is still just from individuality.

    Personally, I am somebody who’s ego developed around ‘being smart’ the was that trees will grow right through a fence, or else not even that but grown ups told me when I was 9 years old, that it was part of what things a little weird sometimes. As a grown woman, I find that some days I feel as if I stumble around between over or under valuing it or just not knowing whether or not it even makes a difference in a lot of situations. Sometimes it obviously does but other times it makes no difference whatsoever. So, I just don’t know what to think sometimes. I try to do ‘smart people jobs’ that suit my personality.

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  32. @GenieLumberjack says:

    And then I ask myself, Do I even care…?

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  33. Emma says:

    I won’t try to pretend I’m a genius or anything, but I felt lonely a lot as a kid. Especially in high school. I remember it being so difficult interact with other people because I had a completely different set of interests. I would attempt to start a conversation on the implications of supersymmetry and everyone would return to their inane chitter-chatter about boys or parties or homework. It was hard for me to get out of the funk it left me in, but I did.

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  34. Phillip says:

    I’ve always been “different”. I was bullied a lot. Made a lot of enemies. I was left out most of the time. As an adult, nothing has really changed. People don’t like what I have to say. I’m not interested in parties or drinking or other stupid crap. I want to do things that are mentally stimulating. There’s been times in my life where I’ve played along to get along, but it never made me very happy. I would like to have friends, but it’s hard for me to respect anyone enough to be their friend. We seem to live in two different worlds. I think it’s arrogant to say you are a genius. Even I’ve questioned whether I am or not. It’s better to look at facts to arrive at a conclusion. I speak three languages, play four instruments (self-taught), I’ve scored in the top 2% of two different IQ tests. I finished in the top of my class in university. Do I feel lonely? It’s hard to say. Maybe frustrated. Frustrated that I can’t find anyone to relate with. Perhaps “isolated” is the best word. There’s a wall between me and everyone else. As Satre said, “Hell is other people.”

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  35. Papone says:

    Being smart is probably a weak diagnosis for this because I feel that most parents will by default will assume their child as being smart. I do not believe they are any large and conclusive studies that show that intelligence can cause kids to be lonely or left out; it is probably more likely that the kid is just shy. Another thing mentioned was the drop-out rate which may be plausible, but I still think she jumped the gun with that.

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  36. christine says:

    I still feel at 36 that some of the things I find cool are just “over people’s heads.” A genuine connection with another human being is truly hard for anyone, let alone a bright person. Perhaps what you said sheds a lot of light on why I do not enjoy a big university. I don’t feel a genuine connection with anyone there. I tend to hang out at Professor’s office hours. BEing smart is truly a blessing and a challenge.

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  37. Jay says:

    I can relate and not only when I was child, but as an adult as well…. I dropped out of high school. One day, I just grew so tired of the repetitive nightmare, so I left, took my GED, and was done with it. The lack of self-confidence from the whole experience was crippling to me, and still as. I didn’t find out what my true capabilities were until my shrink tested my IQ…it was 147…. If only I knew when I was younger. Now, I feel lost, alone, and old. My will power is gone…it takes everything I have just to wake up in the morning, and I still barely manage to do it.

    It is dreadful. I feel as of I have been cursed. I can’t enjoy anything because everything is so simple and predictable…I hate it and I crave to die….

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