I am very smart. I’ve known that at least since I started school. Even among the smart kids, I was smart. I’ve known this for as long as I can remember.
So why does it make me so uncomfortable when someone compliments me on my intelligence?
Today we got together most of the campaign team back together for an inauguration party. Afterward, one of the organizers pulled me aside.
“You’re brilliant,” she told me. “Like, Supreme Court Justice brilliant. It kills me that you’re not in law school or on the Supreme Court. If there’s anything I can do–if you need a positive letter or reference or anything–I’d love to help.”
I tried to downplay it, but she kept going on about how brilliant and analytical and politically astute I am. She said she didn’t hold a candle to me.
Mind you, this woman is pretty amazing herself. She’s an incredible organizer and singlehandedly recruited most of our local campaign team, and she ran phonebanks and canvasses. And she did all of this while doing a Masters of Public Policy program. So for her to call me brilliant…well, that’s saying something.
I think some of my discomfort was that I feel like I should be more successful than I am, but it’s more than just that. I don’t get it.
Maybe it’s that I’m so stuck in self-hatred. Yeah, I’m smart, but so what? I’m still a colossal fuck-up. I’m starving myself and drastically abusing laxatives and constantly suicidal. My intelligence isn’t saving me from myself, it’s not making me like myself, and it’s not helping me succeed at life.
God. Why can I not make my life work?