Saturday, September 09, 2006

I spent many of my formative years pretending to be dumber than I was. Being deemed "smart" by other kids in San Angelo, Texas was a burden, the metaphorical albatross. She's smart was said with derision. Being asked to help others with homework or carrying everyone else's load on a group project quickly grew old. Toward the end of elementary school and into junior high I began to try to shed the rumors I was smart. I learned to play dumb. They say girls are less participatory in class and raise their hands less than boys. My goal wasn't to blatantly contribute to this practice. I wasn't stupid but also wasn't about to take that intellectual risk and find myself labeled. In my mind, I had nothing to prove to the teacher and needed to build up some social credit with my peeps. While I couldn't shake it entirely*, I got pretty damned good at it. Hell, I actually think I did get stupider. High school presented a new opportunity to see how low I could go. Maybe too many issues of Cosmo and Seventeen had warped me into thinking I needed to be dumber than any boy I was interested in. I can't really say. All I know is that embraced the role.

Patrick was the red-headed upperclassman I dated as a freshman. We played the same instrument in band, and I made sure to fumble my chair test so he could "do better" than me. When we broke up, I aced the next chair test and moved to 1st.

Jim was cute and played drums in a band. He was the upperclassman who ensured this sophmore got to senior prom. Poor guy was also dumber than most dirt. He ended up not passing the test required to ensure high school graduation. I realized even I couldn't beat that.

Jason was the smartest boy in school, the one that aced his SATs and snagged that valedictorian title. He made me want to drop the role. Unfortunately, getting help with my calculus homework just proved too much fun.

A funny thing happened once I got to college. Things weren't handed to me, and I wasn't automatically good at everything I tried. I didn't have to fake it because there was so much I didn't know. Suddenly the desire to play dumb fell away, and I found myself wanting to be that smart. Guess you could say I was on my way to growing up.

*being in honors and g/t classes automatically lends some credibility to "smart" rumors


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  2. The need to appear less smart than I was/am never really appealed to me. The kids I grew up with seemed to have more than enough ways to harrass me, so I decided to cling to what I knew mad me better. If fact I still cling to it today. This does at times make me appear very egocentric. I am sad to say that to this day I still am a little bothered when everyone doesn't automatically consider me the smartest person in the room.

  3. I can't remember grade school and if I did that ever. I think I was more into "bullying" people with words:)

  4. You said "build up some social credit with my peeps." Now, seriously, how are we supposed to accept this when we all know it's cred, not credit.
        -- smartest kid ever

  5. You mirrored my experience almost exactly, except I was from the OC. If you weren't blond with big boobs (I was), then that was a bad thing. The problem was that I actually started to believe that I was stupid after awhile, in spite of my 3.87 graduating GPA with honors classes, etc. So I married this guy, too young, who always harped on how much smarter he was. Now, 16 years down the pike (we divorced after 2), I realize the putz couldn't even spell! My daughter is very smart and we just cut to the chase and homeschool her and celebrate her smartness.

  6. I think we would have hung out in elementary/middle school.

    I was always the "smart" one until I got to a bigger school and then I was just part of the genius crowd. Ha.

    I only dated one guy in high school that was dumber than me... he was a football player. Go figure.

  7. Oh...yeah. Even after high school, I would bite my tongue to hold back an opinion or idea if it was dismissed by a boyfriend. It seemed easier than arguing. Ick.