Thursday, February 24, 2005

Golden Ears

I am feeling the hard edge of my own selfishness lately: my need to be seen, my need to have my own specialness acknowledged. I think this may be contrapuntal to my awakening listening ear. At least I hope that it's a sign of growth.

When I signed up for this writing program, I expected to get all sorts of things out of it: heightened writing skills, to be sure, but also adulation, praise and attention. I am accustomed to receiving such things when I set my mind to a task and do it well (I offer the distinction of 'setting mind to' because I have not been accustomed, at all times, to doing so; often, especially in school, my mind has been elsewhere). I did not expect to be humbled. Particularly not with such consistency.

The other day, I spent some time with my friend D, who is also a member of the writing program. As she was driving me home, D observed that she and I had both been born with distinct advantages: I my supportive and loving family, she her high IQ.

And I was strangely upset by this. Not because I feel that my family was not an advantage, nor do I think that D is anything but brilliant. But because it was the third time in as many days that someone had pointed out their own intelligence, without mentioning anything about my own.

As my ex-boyfriend Gahlord used to say when I was upset: “feel that sting? That’s pride, fucking with you.”

Yeah, he was kind of a jerk sometimes.

Anyway: yes, it is pride. And it stings particularly, because I’ve always told myself and others that I don’t imagine myself to be smarter than anyone.

And that’s true.

But hidden deep within that was the assumption that OF COURSE others might think that I was (smarter, that is). And that my perception that, really, I am just about as smart as everyone around me, well that’s just due to my innate perspicuity. That’s right: I’m especially clever, because I can see how smart you all are. Now tell me that isn’t astute.

I am kind of a jerk, aren't I? I always imagined the onset of humility would be more enjoyable.


Trixie said...

I want you to know that if I said I have had the "nora is brilliant, yeah I know, isn't she?" conversation with at least three people a hundred times I would be lying. Truth is, I have had the conversations at least 250 times. You are one smart cookie. And I mean it.

Nora said...

Aaah. That's more like it. Pardon me while I baste.