The Compliment I Can’t Take

I heard it multiple times last night, “You are an intelligent woman…” in various forms. I can hear that I’m pretty. I can hear that I’m open. I can hear that I’m fun. I can’t hear that I’m smart.

My partner, P, and I were at a friend’s house last night, visiting with her and her friend. Her friend has been a reader of this blog for surely longer than he and I have known each other, or at least longer than I’ve considered him a friend. I’ve always felt like he has held a belief of me being better (smarter) than I really am.

I have this blog. This space where I spill a lot of my guts. Where I share way more than most have the guts to share. But I don’t consider this scholarly writing. It’s definitely more so just a public journal or diary. I write the way I talk. I see myself as a lazy writer, never spending as much time elaborating on a thought as I should. I rely on spell check. I don’t tell stories with a lot of detail.  I rely on being vulnerable enough that people will overlook the mistakes.

So why do I discount my smarts? That’s really the point of this post. Now, I’m just going to think out loud here. I’m going to list a variety of excuses or experiences that might be part of it. Maybe it will become clear by the end.

  • My two sisters have gone to college (even law school) and have these successful careers.  I chose to be a stay at home mom for the last 18 years.  Now it’s not a choice but more of a waiting to see what I want to do with my life or what I am called to do with my life.  It wasn’t a smart move.  In fact, I think I was dumb to make that choice.   I beat myself up regularly about this one. (I do actually still help with the family business I built with my now ex-husband but I can’t do that forever.)
  • I did well in high school.  It was so easy that I didn’t learn how to study.  So when I went off to college, I struggled.  I dropped out.  Now I can’t find anything I love enough to make it worth going back, hence I am stuck waiting for my calling.
  • Fuck this, I can’t stand excuses!

Ok, so I’m not dumb. I am intelligent.  I will do what I did when it came to accepting compliments about beauty, etc, I will gracefully say thank you.  Eventually it will be easy to hear and I will believe them.  Blah blah blah.  It’s true.  It does work.  (Control that self talk!)

But wait, there was something earlier… “I rely on being vulnerable enough that people will overlook the mistakes.” Wow! Read that again.

I am not nearly as confident as I come across.  I have learned to compensate with vulnerability and authenticity.  It’s not to say those aren’t awesome qualities.  They are!  But I purposely compensate in order to make up for the fact I’m overweight, I don’t have an amazing career (yet), I struggle to manage my life at times… overall not in full control of my life, still not sure what success will look like for me.  I’m literally faking it until I make it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I fully appreciate the journey I am on.  It is amazing.  I am learning so many things that I believe are part of the path to finding my calling.  I know my emotional intelligence is my strength.  I know I am learning to accept love.  I know I am learning to love myself, flaws and all.  It’s a journey, a slow, emotionally draining, amazingly awesome journey.  Just know while some compensate with humor, I compensate with rawness.  It’s my super power.  It’s not a bad thing.  It’s just how I’ve learned to draw people to me.

Follow-up:

My friend, mentioned above, that was complimenting me sent me a private message, after this originally posted, that really helped.  Here are some snipets:

University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy league University founded by Benjamin Franklin, a man with a 6th grade education.

Harvard Professor Howard Gardner came up with the concept of multiple intelligences.

If you have a desire to be “credentialed”, our current educational structure is derived from the first two intelligences.

Society has placed an emphasis on logic/math and verbal/linguistics. Our IQ and aptitude tests are based off of it.

It is my belief that the last to are the most important. Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligence tells us we communicate with ourselves and each other.

That is why I say you are intelligent because you are working in that realm and you are learning and making discoveries all of the time.

… [types of intelligence]

 

1 Logical/Mathematical – Involves number and computing skills, recognizing patterns and relationships, timeliness and order, and the ability to solve different kinds of problems through logic.

2 Verbal/Linguistic – Involves reading, writing, speaking, and conversing in one’s own or foreign languages.

3 Visual/Spatial – Involves visual perception of the environment, the ability to create and manipulate mental images, and the orientation of the body in space.

4 Bodily/Kinesthetic – Involves physical coordination and dexterity, using fine and gross motor skills, and expressing oneself or learning through physical activities.

5 Musical – Involves understanding and expressing oneself through music and rhythmic movements or dance, or composing, playing, or conducting music.

6 Naturalist – Involves understanding the natural world of plants and animals, noticing their characteristics, and categorizing them; it generally involves keen observation and the ability to classify other things as well.

7 Interpersonal – Involves understanding how to communicate with and understand other people and how to work collaboratively.

8 Intrapersonal – Involves understanding one’s inner world of emotions and thoughts, and growing in the ability to control them and work with them consciously.

So you are intelligent, lady. Whether you can take the compliment or not. 😉

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