Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My own personal genius

I don’t remember when or why I learned this, but as a child my IQ was tested and found to be quite high. As in technically, I am a genius (and I certainly don’t mean “technically” as in “I could configure a LAN in 2 minutes flat” or “code my own pages using nothing but Javascript? No problem!”--I mean “based on the numeric scale assigned to my score”).

Now of course this was a test administered more than two decades ago (umm, probably more like three) and it was designed to measure only book-larnin’, or at least the aptitude for it. And it’s true, I found school easy, right up through college. I was a dutiful student, always did my homework--hello, goody-two-shoes oldest child--and stayed organized. I never pulled an all-nighter. I always got As and Bs without too much effort. (I also knew my limits. I was supposed to take calculus my senior year in high school, but managed to substitute Spanish instead.)

But I often wonder how much any of that, and especially my so-called genius status, has helped me in the real world. Shouldn’t I be some hotshot lawyer, billing $1000 an hour? Or a Pulitzer-winning novelist? Or an entrepreneur brimming with fantastically marketable ideas? Or a diplomat who could broker world peace?

The problem is I don’t have the ambition to match the brains. Which begs the question: Is that really a problem? I’m happy with my mommy-tracked, part-time career and its attendant (i.e., low) salary. I’m proud of what I do even if it isn’t important or life-saving or lucrative. But am I shirking some kind of duty by living this way? Is it my responsibility as a Smart Person to use my powers for the greater good? Am I wasting my brain?

I guess by making the choices I’ve made I’ve answered my own question. And it’s probably one that everyone struggles with from time to time, “genius” or no.


Lady M said...

I read the first paragraph out loud to SwingDaddy and he said, "I thought being able to configure a LAN in two minutes *was* the definition of genius!"

Geek! ;)

I think you would only be shirking your Genius Duty if you locked yourself away and didn't speak to the unwashed masses. Instead, you raise bright children and affect your community and work.

mothergoosemouse said...

Well, if anyone can make you feel better, it would be me - the "technical" (and not in the LAN-configuring way either) genius who managed to screw up in pretty much every way possible, disappointing the heck out of my parents along the way.

I think you've done fabulously well, and when I take the time to think back on my own achievements, I feel the same way about myself.

Summer said...

I've struggled with this a bit, too. Like you, I was a very bright child, especially in reading. I could read, really read, at age 2, and in kindergarten I tested as reading at a 12th grade level. I never had to work all that terribly hard at school, either, not even in my master's program. Yet as an adult, if I got a report card, it would probably say that I'm not working up to my potential.

Then again, I've managed to create a happy life for myself and my family. I don't think the majority of people can say that, so I must have made some smart decisions.

Oddly enough, even though I was blessed with a naturally large rack and a nice figure, I have never once thought that I've squandered my assets by not pursuing a career in the adult film industry.

Anonymous said...

Okay Let's get a comment from a NON genius.

I struggled all through school beginning with the 3rd grade, Mrs. Patterson (that wicked witch) who caught me signing my mom's name on my own unfinished homework. Then there was 4th grade Mrs. Carter who gave me my first official D in math.
9th grade, I had to take summer school to get into high school because I never did my Romeo and Juliet homework. I took Intro to Algebra twice and finally took Cosmetology my jr and sr year just to get out of class.

I did hair for almost 10 years and then retired to raise my 4 genius children. GO FIGURE. My husband was not in any of the advanced classes either and yet somehow after all those years I have realized that mixing two negatives actually do make a positive. Those math teachers don't know what their talking about.

By two negatives I do not mean to criticize my hub and I because the one thing that I am most proud of in this ,life are my children.

Regardless of my struggles in school i have also managed to raise and create a very happy family environment. I attribute this to there being no math involved.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Well. You could also ask if you (or any of us) have an obligation to do the most good for the most number of people. To do the most we can given our abilities.

Meh. I just want to take my kids to the mountains. Does that make me lazy?

Anonymous said...

it's the whole "to whom much is given, much is expected" thing, right? Every now and then (or more than that, if I'm being honest) I feel the same way, but then I just go back to being un-ambitious and happy.

Karianna said...

Yup. I could 'ave written dis der post, too.

I can't do the LAN-sh*t either, but I have that pesky genius score attached to my IQ.

I've gotten the education, but where's my mansion and Mercedes?

If I knew what I wanted to do when I grow up, I think I'd have the motivation to do it.

But for now, being a mom (and a stressed-out-part-time-worker-from-home) suits me fine.

Whenever I ponder the "wasting the brain" question, I recall a quote from Newsweek where a Harvard grad defended her chosen profession. When asked "Why did you chose to become a teacher if you went to Haaah-vahhhd? Why not be a doctor or a lawyer?" Her response was, "Who better to teach your children?"

I think (genius or no) that our education, intellect, and life-experiences serve our children well.

Anonymous said...

High intelligence, low ambition - you've pretty much described my household!

Do we have a responsibility to earn an income proportionate to our I.Q.? Hehe. I'm starting to think that I.Q. is one of those purely decorative attributes - it doesn't have a whole lot of practical value, but it sure makes a person interesting to talk to. I want my children to be intelligent primarily for the sake of our future dinner-table conversations - not because I'm under the impression that their I.Q. will translate into dollar signs.

Suzanne said...

I think happiness trumps a high-profile career any day (assuming the latter excludes the former). Your school career sounds a lot like mine, and here I am, too, working as a part-time freelancer instead of bursting through the publishing stratosphere. To quote the Jefferson's theme song, "there ain't nothing wrong with that."