In 1 on April 27, 2008 by David

In elementary school, I thought to myself “I’m becoming stupider”. I reached this conclusion after struggling through some puzzle, math question, or word problem. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I remember clearly thinking that this was something I could do easily before – but now struggled with. I was shocked, scared into a cold sweat. I had read a book, fiction, probably Flowers for Algernon or Ender’s Game, from which I was left with the distinct conclusion that the peak of intelligence was somewhere in childhood.

I spent the next few months muttering “9 x 9 = 81, T-O-R-N-A-D-O” whenever I had some free time (even when in the restroom), hoping that repeatedly muttering “hard” math and spelling big words could slow this decline. In middle school, this became “17 x 17 = 289, H-U-R-R-I-C-A-N-E”, but in the back of my mind, my nagging fear stayed. As a kid, I had unjustified sense of pride in my intelligence. I was never the fastest kid; never the most eloquent or persuasive. I had horrible studying habits – everyday after school, up till eighth grade, I would watch TV from the moment I got home until the second I heard my parent’s car pulling up into the driveway.

Yet often this was enough. In the time my mom made dinner, I could finish my homework and study for tests. I could make the grade and I had a false sense of pride in this. I was prideful, looking down on the other kids that spent so much more work only to produce the same results. Although I maintained a humble facade, in my mind, I emphasized with the unpleasant kid in the back, boasting how little effort it took to get an A. How ironic, considering that in the back of my mind, I was worried about getting stupider. Misplaced pride on what was, in reality, a shortcoming.

Looking back, my standards were never the highest. In many subjects, I never had a true love of the subject and as a result, did the minimum. In high school, I tried to change. I was nothing special. (I think David Neville really stood out when I was there. Haha) I diversified my interests, doing not simply what I was good at, but what I was interested in. My interest in politics lead me to pursue policy debate. I loved it. From heated discussions to learning a more global perspective, I was really passionate about policy. I really liked my 10th grade chemistry teacher, and I tried my hand at chemistry research. I haven’t made any big explosions yet – so I think I did alright there. I really liked choosing classes and thinking about the future – registration time was always a fun time, I made spreadsheets to maximize my interests with interesting teachers and cool classes. I schemed to get past boring pre-reqs and create the “perfect” schedule. This trivial interest lead me to become a senior mentor at TAMS, sharing my perspective on teachers and helping juniors choose classes.

Hindsight is 20/20, but I wish I was more social, more friendly, more caring. In college, I hope I can further develop my interests. With so much free time, I hope I can do something great. Change the world a little bit. I want to be bolder. To be friendlier. To have classes where I am truly engaged. To get to know God better. And, maybe, learn to talk to girls better. 😛

Intelligence truly pales in comparsion to everything else. Name me one person known for their intelligence, and I will name you 5 people known for their compassion, 5 for their luck, 5 for their charisma, and 5 for their hard-work.


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