Being smart is both a gift and a curse. The gift part is hey, you’re not an idiot. The curse part is that nobody likes you. Here are three of the more common downsides to being smart.
[NOTE: Seeing as I’m not that smart, all points presented in this article were gathered from actual smart people, not first-hand experience.]
People Want to Upstage You.
When you’re smart, or you have a reputation for being smart, all of a sudden everyone wants to catch you being non-smart. Every day, every activity, becomes a game of Mario Cart, with everyone around you shooting their little brain turtles at you in the hopes of knocking you right off that high horse of yours. To outsmart the smart person – by knowing something they don’t, by proving them wrong – is treated like it’s David standing up to Goliath, one for the little guy, as it were.
To add insult to injury, nobody ever feels sorry for the smart person when they get ‘knocked down a peg’. Quite the opposite. Everyone else seems to join in the celebrating like that montage at the end of Return of the Jedi. It’s a call to arms, sticking it to the man, like when King Leonidas chucked that spear at Xerxes at the end of 300. One guess as to who’s Xerxes.
But hey, when it happens to you, at least you’ve got your friends to cheer you up, right? No. Odds are you won’t have many of those, because . . .
People Assume You’re a Jerk.
Quick, think of a fictional smart person. Sherlock Holmes. He was sort of a jerk. Dr. House. He was a complete jerk. Tony Stark. Yeah, you see where I’m going with this.
Know what they all have in common? Peons! Hapless idiots of far lesser intelligence, the side kicks, if you will. In fiction these are called foils, or window characters. They exist for the sole purpose of being the exact opposite of the main character, highlighting they’re qualities and attributes and, through dialogue, giving us a ‘window’ into the mind of the protagonist. Frequently – read, all the time – these characters endure all manner of humiliation and abuse at the hands of their smarter counterparts.
As a result, a lot of people assume that you, the intelligent being you are, are looking down on them, or that you have no patience for lesser intellects. Or that you think they smell funny or something, because who knows if being smarter makes your nose work better. Weird stuff.
Anyways, when people assume right off the bat that you are a raging insult-machine who only sees steamy piles of poo when you look at them, they tend to be a little guarded. Or defensive. So even if you are not, in fact, an ax-wound (shout out to Mean Girls!), people won’t know it, because they’re too busy trying to avoid you for fear that you are.
But, eventually, someone is going to go out on a limb and befriend you. Maybe even lots of people. Maybe they come to realize that hey, you aren’t half bad. That’s good and all. But then comes the other thing.
People Think You Know Everything.
If you’re smart or have any measure of common sense or just know things a person should know, odds are that back in school you had to deal with at least one person who, instead of trying to, you know, contribute to a group project, they were content to rely on you to come up with all the good ideas and then piggyback off of your success. If you’re still in school, great news: it doesn’t end at commencement. Life is, essentially, one big group project, and there will always, always, be those people who want to hitch a ride off of your ideas.
Thing is, being intelligent doesn’t mean you have an encyclopedic knowledge of every subject known to man. It doesn’t work like that. All that intelligence essentially is is aptitude, or potential. It’s sort of like an empty room. The higher your IQ, the more floor space your room has. Just because one person has a bigger room, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to put more stuff in there than someone with a smaller room, and even if they do, it may not be useful stuff.
For some reason, people tend to assume that everyone with a metaphorically larger room must have not only more in that room, but everything in that room. Not only that, but that they also have all that stuff meticulously organized and categorized for quick and easy access, like a library or something.
In conclusion, smart people may have it good in that they aren’t stupid. But the grass is not greener, friends. In fact, it’s a little dry and brown.