Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Brain Betrayal

I've been told before that I'm smart.  I've never really taken the compliment that well, because it seemed to me that I wasn't necessarily that smarter than anyone else, I was just worked at it more because I was more afraid of what would happen if I turned in a paper that wasn't my best.  But okay, I'll take it: I'm smart.  Now, what does it get me?

The problem is, I'm not math or science smart.  I'm math perseverant and science competent.  But though I admire how math problems are like puzzles, there's no career in proofs, and my calling is not engineering like my father.  I'm also not social smart.  Again, competent with the friends and the mingling, but not my forte.  And that's not my fault.  We are who we are.  

If I'm smart, I'm word smart.

A dangerous proposal to make on a blog.  It just screams for someone to point out a terrible grammatical error.  However (because starting with "but" would be frowned upon), what I enjoy doing is writing.  Stories, poems, research papers, there's a reason I went to a college that trades exams for twenty-page conferences.  I love finding the words that perfectly express what I want to say, and I admire those who have perfected the art.  As a pre-pubescent misfit in Texas, I often prayed by my bedside using Shakespeare's sonnets.  Sacrilegious to be certain, but also a sign of things to come.

But again, if I'm smart, what does it get me?  Because my brain's calling doesn't come in the form of equations arithmetic or chemical, it doesn't lend itself well to a set career path.  Word smart is not a quantitative factor.  You must not be "This smart to write a book."  There are no tests to submit to publications with minimum grade standards.  Which is just as well, because I hate tests and I never liked getting graded.  

The conundrum is clear.  I spent a dozen plus years fine-tuning my brain to become as smart as possible, not to be as lucrative or as hire-able as possible.  And at the moment, that feels like a mistake.  It feels like I did what I was told, like I was good at it, and in return have found that there is no reward.  I value my education, and I loved reading the 18th-Century British novel in context, but no one wants me to write about that.  Or at least, no one wants to pay me for it.  As one of the nerds who followed practically all of the rules, I suppose I naively believed that it was enough when it isn't.

But I'm smart, right?  So I'll find a way to make it work.

No comments:

Post a Comment