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  1. #1
    Senior Member Tabula's Avatar
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    Default Reconciling Intellectual Inadequacy?

    I feel horrible for doing this. I’ve only been here a little while and all I’ve done is talk about myself. I don’t have a good enough understanding of these ideas/theories/concepts to feel qualified to offer up any opinions, but I’m too interested to entirely bow out altogether. That's beside the point.

    This is going to sound extremely whiny, and much like a non-problem and I'll probably regret it later. Tune out here, if you will.

    I’ve come to the realization that every significant problem in my life, I have unwittingly created for myself. The origins of which, reduce to my reluctance to fully accept the fact that I am a bit below average in most all respects (but mainly intellectually.) How egotistical, no? Why did I place so much importance on it in the first place and not even realize it? What’s the value in it at all if not put to use somehow, be it in a personally satisfying manner, or otherwise? I consciously recognize that there is nothing inherently “wrong” or “bad” about being average, or below average, and can attest to it being the most objectively apt definition of my “level.” I’ve never thought of myself as “intelligent,” nor really “un-intelligent.” It never really crossed my mind, tbh. But only in recognizing the themes of my problems, and consequently trying to fix them, have I come across this. I quite literally have absolutely no aptitude for anything. I was a mediocre student at best, and only in the latter school years, was it for lack of trying. “Everyone has a talent” is a comfortable sentiment and all, but I suspect untrue. If there’re billions of people in the world, surely there will be some who’re just plain shit at everything, no? Everything, from specific manifestations of disproportionate anxiety/panic, total self-isolation, to a pathological aversion to living my life or growing up in any real way—it can all be attributed, at least in essence, to the avoidance of having to put forth honest effort, and in turn, seeing the final products [and finally, me] for what they are—mediocre. I’m mediocre. It’s not unduly self-critical, or pessimistic, but reality. And one in which I’ve been avoiding with everything I have (or more appropriately—don’t have.) The fact that this is seemingly such a petty non-problem is also frustrating. If it’s a non-problem, why have I allowed it, consciously or not, the influence and effects of a real problem? I really hate myself for it. I know how this sounds,(cough:)and YES, I’m annoyed by me too maybe even more than you are, as I’m sure there’re starving, poverty-stricken people all over the world who’d be delighted to change “problems.”

    Every moment since this realization, I’ve tried to simply say, “Who cares? So…you do the best with what you have like everyone else. You’re not smart, but so what? Grow up!” Admittedly, much more easily said than done. It takes perhaps hours to realize, but to disassemble years and years and years of behavioral patterns, thought habits, etc. to replace with more efficient and honest ones, seems a daunting task, indeed. And still, I’ve yet to be able to wholly assimilate this understanding in a workable way—that is, a way that will allow for the synchronization of thought/action—a reliable bridge of the gap between recognition<-->implementation/demonstration of said recognition. I’m stuck. Or, better, dumbst[r]uck.

    Where do I go from here…? What do I do? I gather most of you are very intelligent, at least from what I’ve read of you, and so probably don’t have this “problem.” Maybe if you could use that to offer some “outside” advice, if you want, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Your writing style does not strike me as someone who is not intelligent; just thought I'd point that out.

    I've had a personality crisis, well, maybe an "intellectuality crisis" in the past, but it stemmed from achieving academically, but then not in "real life" once out of school.

    Anyhow, it seems your fear of mediocrity is holding you back, not that your true self is really mediocre. Follow me: You've created an ego, a self-image of being "smart" to cope with some deeply rooted insecurity. When this self-image is threatened, you retreat from the perceived threat. You'd rather avoid things, things you may even desire, than have that image challenged, because you fear it won't hold true. In clinging to the image, you're really holding yourself back & reinforcing the deeper insecurity you created the image to obscure.

    Everyone does this to an extent. We all have an ego or self-image developed at an early age, and we want to protect it; removing it is pretty much impossible. In reality, we can only broaden our self image, so it's not as easily threatened.

    This realization you're having can be very productive if you steer it right. The former image of self you had does define you, but neither does the fear. Neither is who you really are, but you can see who you are and meet your potential if you broaden that self-image. I suggest looking into enneagram (another typology system). It's pretty interesting/helpful as far as seeing ways to adjust your thinking & basically integrate other qualities into your self-image to keep it from getting so narrow that you're easily threatened by anything that could "disprove" it. It's no longer about protecting some image your mind has created, but exploring your potential in reality.
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tabula View Post
    I feel horrible for doing this. I’ve only been here a little while and all I’ve done is talk about myself. I don’t have a good enough understanding of these ideas/theories/concepts to feel qualified to offer up any opinions, but I’m too interested to entirely bow out altogether. That's beside the point.

    This is going to sound extremely whiny, and much like a non-problem and I'll probably regret it later. Tune out here, if you will.

    I’ve come to the realization that every significant problem in my life, I have unwittingly created for myself. The origins of which, reduce to my reluctance to fully accept the fact that I am a bit below average in most all respects (but mainly intellectually.) How egotistical, no? Why did I place so much importance on it in the first place and not even realize it? What’s the value in it at all if not put to use somehow, be it in a personally satisfying manner, or otherwise? I consciously recognize that there is nothing inherently “wrong” or “bad” about being average, or below average, and can attest to it being the most objectively apt definition of my “level.” I’ve never thought of myself as “intelligent,” nor really “un-intelligent.” It never really crossed my mind, tbh. But only in recognizing the themes of my problems, and consequently trying to fix them, have I come across this. I quite literally have absolutely no aptitude for anything. I was a mediocre student at best, and only in the latter school years, was it for lack of trying. “Everyone has a talent” is a comfortable sentiment and all, but I suspect untrue. If there’re billions of people in the world, surely there will be some who’re just plain shit at everything, no? Everything, from specific manifestations of disproportionate anxiety/panic, total self-isolation, to a pathological aversion to living my life or growing up in any real way—it can all be attributed, at least in essence, to the avoidance of having to put forth honest effort, and in turn, seeing the final products [and finally, me] for what they are—mediocre. I’m mediocre. It’s not unduly self-critical, or pessimistic, but reality. And one in which I’ve been avoiding with everything I have (or more appropriately—don’t have.) The fact that this is seemingly such a petty non-problem is also frustrating. If it’s a non-problem, why have I allowed it, consciously or not, the influence and effects of a real problem? I really hate myself for it. I know how this sounds,(cough:)and YES, I’m annoyed by me too maybe even more than you are, as I’m sure there’re starving, poverty-stricken people all over the world who’d be delighted to change “problems.”

    Every moment since this realization, I’ve tried to simply say, “Who cares? So…you do the best with what you have like everyone else. You’re not smart, but so what? Grow up!” Admittedly, much more easily said than done. It takes perhaps hours to realize, but to disassemble years and years and years of behavioral patterns, thought habits, etc. to replace with more efficient and honest ones, seems a daunting task, indeed. And still, I’ve yet to be able to wholly assimilate this understanding in a workable way—that is, a way that will allow for the synchronization of thought/action—a reliable bridge of the gap between recognition<-->implementation/demonstration of said recognition. I’m stuck. Or, better, dumbst[r]uck.

    Where do I go from here…? What do I do? I gather most of you are very intelligent, at least from what I’ve read of you, and so probably don’t have this “problem.” Maybe if you could use that to offer some “outside” advice, if you want, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.
    This was hard for me to read, and to be honest I only read three quarters.


    I think you need to see your own importance and participation in life. I would wager you feel insignificant and are trying to find a place that means something.

    First step is understanding that you are as equally valuable as any other right now.

    The second is using that to create an effect.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Gerbah's Avatar
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    I think it is a question of humility and connection to/acceptance of reality. A person needs to have these in order to be at peace. Whether it be at peace with not being intellectually elite, or in the beauty elite, whatever elite, etc. You have this feeling in relation to intelligence but in theory you could feel the same way about any other thing. What would be the point of that? So what is the point of feeling this way about intelligence?

    I think if you work towards accepting this, you will feel more motivated to tackle what you call a "daunting task". At the end of the day, every person is in their process of coming to self-knowledge and self-creation, so we are all in the same boat and have the same task in whatever shape or form that might take for the individual, and it's hard for everybody. It can also be an enjoyable process, so I wouldn't beat yourself up about what you see as your "deficiencies". You are what you are and no one else is like you or will be what you will be, and that is special.
    the shoheen ho of the wind of the west and the lulla lo of the soft sea billow - Alfred Graves

  5. #5
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    Your writing style does not strike me as someone who is not intelligent; just thought I'd point that out.
    Funny. That was exactly my thought after reading only part of the OP. Someone who is "below average" in intelligence does not use complex sentence structure, accurate punctuation, extensive vocabulary including some 4-5 syllable words, unexpected puns, and various conversation styles -- and especially with such unconscious ease.

    The ability to use language well is one indicator of intelligence.

    You're obviously very smart, Tabula. The issue is something else.

    It sounds like you are expecting something special of yourself -- and you see other people as somehow each having something special in themselves, whereas you do not feel uniquely gifted.

    I see it much as OA did:

    Anyhow, it seems your fear of mediocrity is holding you back, not that your true self is really mediocre. Follow me: You've created an ego, a self-image of being "smart" to cope with some deeply rooted insecurity. When this self-image is threatened, you retreat from the perceived threat. You'd rather avoid things, things you may even desire, than have that image challenged, because you fear it won't hold true. In clinging to the image, you're really holding yourself back & reinforcing the deeper insecurity you created the image to obscure.
    I went through this struggle myself, except I could acknowledge that by many people's standards I was 'gifted' (creatively and intellectually) -- yet for me I was never gifted enough to accomplish anything of value. I obsessed over the things I was not gifted in, and I was extremely unhappy regardless of my "gifts" in terms of self-acceptance and relationships, and I also felt like it didn't matter how gifted I was, I would never amount to anything because I wasn't quit gifted enough to do some amazing thing that would change the world forever. I remember making some efforts when younger, bumped up against the limits of my ability at that time, realized compared to the true elite that I was still wanting... and I gave up. Wrote myself off. Put myself down. Hid my passion.

    I had to reevaluate my life and assess it differently. I think will and centeredness now is more important than talent. I don't know if I can 'make a difference in the world,' but I definitely can make a difference around myself and in myself, and being content with life and who I am ... self-acceptance... is part of that. Once I know who I am and accept who I am, I have the capability to focus on other things and to just do what I can with what I have around me, without judging myself from some external source and thinking I'm not good enough. I also don't have to be afraid of failure, as it's not really failure but just part of the perseverence of growth and becoming more skilled at things. I'm not out to impress myself or others by trying to be more than I am, I'm just enjoying the thrill of being who I am and doing what I can do.

    It's like everything you think of yourself, the ways you view yourself, they all have to be spun on their head. Right now you are stuck in a loop that doesn't really do anything for you but prevent you from going anywhere and being who you can be and in fact are right this moment.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  6. #6
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    The issue has nothing to do with intelligence; a fact I expect you knew prior to thread creation. Your repetition of key themes in your writing indicates a desire for external validation.

    Trying to find such a realization on the Internet is only going to bring dissatisfaction.

    Determine why you cannot thoughtfully experience emotional support. What in your life requires repair? How might you advance your station, with these fixes in mind?


    Do not be encumbered by the symptoms of insecurity; attack the source.

  7. #7
    Senor Membrane
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tabula View Post
    I feel horrible for doing this. I’ve only been here a little while and all I’ve done is talk about myself. I don’t have a good enough understanding of these ideas/theories/concepts to feel qualified to offer up any opinions, but I’m too interested to entirely bow out altogether. That's beside the point.
    Well, hey, there's only a couple of people here who seem to understand the theory, and I'm not even sure if they do, since I don't understand it really. I do the same all the time, I compare the theory to my life and talk about that, since my life is the only area I am an expert in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabula View Post
    I’ve come to the realization that every significant problem in my life, I have unwittingly created for myself. The origins of which, reduce to my reluctance to fully accept the fact that I am a bit below average in most all respects (but mainly intellectually.) How egotistical, no?
    Usually it takes some bit of intellectual attitude and motivation to even turn the question around and see what is wrong in yourself. Then, to get somewhere it takes a whole lot of creative problem solving, as all of our self-created problems are fighting to stay in our minds. So, you are a doctor performing a surgery on your own brain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabula View Post
    “Everyone has a talent” is a comfortable sentiment and all, but I suspect untrue. If there’re billions of people in the world, surely there will be some who’re just plain shit at everything, no?
    Yes, this is probably true. But it seems more common that people find something that they can compensate with. For example, almost all of the people in the high places seem to be people who are motivated to power. They don't seem to have much leadership or people skills, they are just really really motivated to lead.

    That is, by the way, my problem. Motivation. And then there is the flip-side of intellect. I always believed that I am smart. I didn't have to really do much homework since I just got it, and so on... But then I got to the real world, and what do I find? No one cares. The successful people are not in fact intellectually inclined, and there were many people who consciously refused to go that way. Like an old class mate of mine, he was this extremely intelligent guy. He became a plumber, I think. So, I didn't know what to do with it, I was interested in everything but nothing in particular, and I had already developed an elitism so that I couldn't become a plumber. Who needs a jack-of-all-trades, no one. I had to do something so I picked a school that felt good. And where am I now. I'm 28, unemployed professional, even though I am very good in what I do, and could easily be better if someone gave me a chance. But I know, it's not about that, there is the big obstacle in my mind, and I don't seem to get around it. Where do I find something that motivates me?

    So, the way I see it, it would have been a lot easier for me if I had less talent (of if I had perceived to have less talent). If I've been good, let's say, only in languages, the choice would have been easy. Of course, I don't think this way, I am happy to be who I am, but I'm just saying that there is a perspective that can make my capability seem like a disadvantage.

    Anyhow, where I was going with this. You see that I have the same problem you have, we both feel inadequate, but since we never saw the other side of the story we don't really know if we'd be any happier if things weren't how they are. Say, if I could just get rid of my elitism, and humble myself, and find motivation, what would I be like? Maybe I would be stepping on people's toes all the time because of my motivation and then feeling like shit.

  8. #8
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Same initial thoughts here as OrangeApple and Jennifer. You do not sound like intelligence is the issue but rather your perception of it and/or your expectations towards yourself. Which is a familiar situation.

    Let me ask you a few questions.
    - Do you come from a family of successful people? Are friends and/or family of you gifted? What do they expect of you (or what do you think they expect of you) and what do you yourself expect of you?
    - (This sounds like a terrible chliché, I know) Would you describe your parents (or whoever you´d consider your primary family) as loving? Did you feel appreciated as a child?
    - I´m no expert on enneagram, but the direction that suggestion was probably going is this: Do you define yourself through your success/failure? Do you base your self worth on your knowledge/competency or your success in life?
    - What do you want to get out of life? Do you have a list of things that you think would make your life happier if only you had them? Why?

    It takes perhaps hours to realize, but to disassemble years and years and years of behavioral patterns, thought habits, etc. to replace with more efficient and honest ones, seems a daunting task, indeed. And still, I’ve yet to be able to wholly assimilate this understanding in a workable way—that is, a way that will allow for the synchronization of thought/action—a reliable bridge of the gap between recognition<-->implementation/demonstration of said recognition.
    This is called cognitive behavioral therapy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogniti...vioral_therapy It is usually quite effective, but it is hard to do it on your own, that´s why there are professionals out there.

    My ex bf is gifted and has only just now recovered (more or less) from years of clinical depression in which he basically considered himself a cockroach for not achieving what he expected of himself (the roots of this have a lot to do with his cold, unsupportive father). I´m not gifted myself, only narrowly scratching along the borders of that fancy gated community and that lead to a lot of frustration (the Salieri syndrom as I call it, watch Peter Shaffer´s Amadeus!). I had to learn to live with that (and my family not at all getting the problem). And I had to learn (am still working on that) to not always fear failure and subsequent abandonment everytime I make a mistake, to not expect to always give 110% at everything all the time, because it can´t possibly work out and only leaves you exhausted and feeling like an underachiever for not doing everything you wanted to do/get done.

    I´m not suggesting that you are or aren´t gifted. Actually the point of this babble is that it shouldn´t matter, because things become unhealthy when you get fixated on those things. I´m just trying to point out that your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your own intellectual skills (and therefor your self perception of adequacy or inadequacy) are probably independent from your actual intelligence, whatever that might be. If you want to find out where the real problem lies, as others have suggested before me, you might want to ponder the questions above, which are all about setting your values straight (and by straight I mean changing them in such a way that they actually help you in life rather than make you miserable).

    Good luck!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    Let me ask you a few questions.
    - Do you come from a family of successful people? Are friends and/or family of you gifted? What do they expect of you (or what do you think they expect of you) and what do you yourself expect of you?
    - (This sounds like a terrible chliché, I know) Would you describe your parents (or whoever you´d consider your primary family) as loving? Did you feel appreciated as a child?
    - I´m no expert on enneagram, but the direction that suggestion was probably going is this: Do you define yourself through your success/failure? Do you base your self worth on your knowledge/competency or your success in life?
    - What do you want to get out of life? Do you have a list of things that you think would make your life happier if only you had them? Why?
    Yeah, these are good questions.

  10. #10
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    I relate very much to what the OP said and its been a struggle I've faced throughout my life. I know I'm intelligent but what else am I good for? I guess I've never felt that well-rounded and that's bothered me. In high school, I knew people who were good at many things. They were varsity athletes, they were also first chair in band, they were leaders in student government, they were top of their class academically, and to top it all off they were popular and good looking. As for myself, I graduated in the top 10 percent of my class and the only extracurriculars I ever did were nerdy academic stuff.

    I've dabbled in alot of different things but never felt I did any of them particularly well. Maybe I just had unrealistic expectations in that I wanted to be good at it right away. On the other hand I did compare myself to others and I did see that they were making progress and getting good quickly and I wasn't.

    I just wish there was one area in life I could truly say I was good at. By good, I mean substantially above average- something that most of the population would find impressive.

    I want more than just a high IQ score. (And even my IQ isn't that high. On a professional test, its just a little short of gifted).
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