Growing up, I didn’t realize how smart I was, I did well in school but I didn’t quite understand it. I know it sounds complicated but that’s just the plain truth, I am smart.
I grew up in a large family and my mum was extremely intelligent, she still is, even though she didn’t finish her schooling. She always helped me out with my homework, and I’m not entirely sure how she understood things she didn’t learn herself. She constantly encouraged me to work hard and never pressured me at all, maybe because I performed very well.
I remember the first time I actually thought I was intelligent was when I received my primary school results and letter to join high school, a very sought after school in the country, and someone very very close to me said something like.. “at least you are smart because otherwise you are just ugly”. This statement rocked me, and changed my perception of myself, the way I viewed the world and my views about what was important in my life completely. What I looked like became a thing in my mind, but that’s not the point of this post, the point is I knew then that I was smart somehow and it was something I didn’t have to chase.
My first job was surprisingly in the aviation industry, where it is perceived that you have to possess some level of beauty to be accepted (which I apparently didn’t have). I actually lost a friend because she didn’t want to be associated with me, who did not take a more academic path in my career. In my eyes, knowing my personality and the things that excite me I made the smart choice for my life, and travelled the world in my twenties, something that gave me access to so many cultures, people, experiences and knowledge in many different aspects of life. It seems it was a lowly path to take in life as well, and I was so confused because I had been told beauty mattered first then intelligence, and now it was the other way around? I have never tried to recover that friendship again, well, she wasn’t a friend I guess. I was still confused though.
Fast forward to a few years later, a guy I was dating told me that I’m not even intelligent, I just know how to understand things easily. This shook me again, because by this time I knew I was smart even if I had been told I was ugly, the way I look wasn’t something I could change, but now I was not even smart, so what did I even have in this life? I now know that he was intimidated by me and he wanted to crush my self esteem, but what he didn’t know was I was built on a foundation of love, support and self knowing that nobody could shake down.
I say all this to say that the issue of a young girl being smart seems to be a very polarizing thing, and it should be. It is crazy to me that you can’t be smart and own it openly, that you can’t be smart and beautiful, that if you are beautiful then you can’t be smart; that other people feel like they can decide what direction you should take in life for you to be worthy of their friendship or be a part of their life. I turned out alright.
If you are a young girl, a young woman, take up your space and own it. Don’t be afraid to use your smarts to go head to head with your peers. Create the life you want to live. Also, don’t be afraid to choose a more creative approach to life if that’s what sets your soul on fire. Everybody is doing whatever they want with their lives and so should you.