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On Feeling Dumb

In your entire short lifespan, there will be at least one moment when you feel dumber than all your peers; at least one if you’d stop lying to yourself, you narcissist with self-esteem issues. When everything your associates say makes absolute sense, yet you wonder: why couldn’t I have come up with the idea?

First and foremost, if you think you’re dumb or dumber than most, you’re right. You’re dumb enough to assume that intellect dawns upon people like the sun have been shining upon this wretched race from the creation of the universe, or galaxy. People are not born with any tangible memories or knowledge from their ancestors apart from their primitive nature and human instinct.

All humans are born with a clean slate and become who they are due to their nurture. No one comes out their mother’s womb with the entire and vast volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica imprinted into their brain or all of the Beatles’ lyrics memorized. Yes, talent is debatable, but you know what else there is? Practice.At the risk of sounding like a cliché: practice does make perfect. All those protégée videos that you keep watching in YouTube that inspire equal parts awe and admiration as well as envy and insecurity? Those kids didn’t just randomly pick up a violin or somehow learn how to perfectly execute those double and triple pirouettes. They practiced until their fingers – or feet, or even brain – bled but they, practiced and perfected. Nothing in life comes without a price. This time, the price will be just that; time and effort. People spend endless hours of their life enhancing their skills and getting rid of flaws. If you want to feel smart, if you want to know, start working.

Some people attribute their insecurity about their intellect to not being well read. Books will take you far; young Padawan and you should try and read more. However, they will also only take you so far. What’s the point of memorizing the all the World Wars when you can’t recognize the signs of the impending and inevitable war that is yet to be declared officially, but has been going on for ages? What use when concentration camps are opening right underneath your nose and you only chose to believe what the media tells you? When people are once again being persecuted on basis on religious affiliation, but you choose to overlook that too?Think, and think for yourself. Don’t just nod your head and gape like a fish whenever an individual in your vicinity opens their mouth and lets out a stream of wisdom. Yes, you have to be well acquainted with matters to speak of them, but why repeat what you hear or what you see on Facebook? For you to form your own opinion, you’ll first have to listen. Listen carefully, be it an elder or a child, your parents, teachers, or the president. Keep your eyes and ears open and use that brilliant head of yours. Never dismiss wisdom, because it may come from the most unexpected places.

Never consider what you learned in school to be useless. Those endless geography lessons every – normal – kid hated? They are why you know exactly where the strike is occurring. We witness people proclaiming how they’ve never used algebra a day in their life. That’s simply not true: haven’t you found yourself estimating the value of your groceries by substituting the value of x? Don’t ignore the lessons you’ve been taught in the classroom. They might prove to be some of the valuable things you’ve learned from cooking an egg in domestic skills, to mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell. Okay, maybe not that last one. Lastly, accept that you can’t possibly know everything. There will be news that’s hard to grasp, if you’ve heard it in the first place. News you can’t comprehend and it’s okay to ask for help. As for strangers: there will always be a person who makes it sound like they know more thank you. The truth is, every person you come across will know something you don’t, and there’s nothing fallacious about that.

All the knowledge in the world is available to you in this latest era of education and technology, where you can access millions of books with a single click. So, keep your mind open to new ideas and appreciate what knowledge the other person has to offer. Ask questions, even the dumb ones. And never stop trying. The day you do, you really will be as dumb as you consider yourself to be.

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