Back when I was in school, especially while I was in sixth form, I remember being told quiet often that I was intelligent. Not only did teachers often praise me for this, but my friends often said so too – if there was a random question about something which people didn’t know the answer too, they would ask me (even teachers on a couple of occasions.) This felt good and, for a couple of years, I did genuinely think I was rather intelligent.
But as I reflect, it’s interesting to see how my self-perception changed a lot during the two years I was in sixth form. I went in thinking that I was rather clever and left thinking I was rather simple minded. Why is this? Well, it’s not because I was made to feel stupid in any of my classes or anything like that – I got pretty good grades and learned about quite a lot of interesting ideas and concepts which expanded the breadth of my knowledge.
But I think, perhaps I felt like I was intelligent before, because I was quite unaware of the enormous extent of the things that there are to know in the world, or because I was so inexperienced. I’m not sure, because I can’t remember my thought processes of such a long time ago. Obviously, there’s the famous Socrates quote “I know that I know nothing” and from a certain perspective, it could look as if I’m trying to say that I came to that conclusion, but I think really I had just identified the arrogance of youth.
Another thing which I quite regularly reflect on, is the fact that I’m quite ignorant about the world of romantic and sexual relationships. I always, always forget that couples who live together have (in the majority of cases) only one bedroom; I’m not sure why it is that I can keep this fact stored in my mind academically, only to forget it when pops up in reality – these usually leaves me feeling quite silly. I’m also often told that I am unable to identify the signs of romantic attraction – and I do think it is hard to tell, because different people behave in different ways and everybody expresses affection differently. On top of that, I also really struggle with euphemisms, which also makes me feel rather unintelligent.
I don’t want to be too down on myself: I am probably not unintelligent, merely of average level, but I so often feel that I am coming to things with a completely different perspective to everybody else or that I am so out of touch with the reference points that others’ share, which causes me to feel unintelligent. So what is the purpose of this post? Well, really, I just wanted to reflect on how much our self-perception changes and, indeed, how we ourselves do change in very major ways. Taking a step back, there are probably three versions of you: how you see yourself, how your friends see you and what you actually are. And I just remembered that used to be an internet meme.
(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)