March 11th, 2012


That smarts

When we walked in to church today, we ran into an old friend. See, for young single adult wards like ours, they'll call what I think are called "service couples"--older married couples who I guess are there to act as advisers. We never really asked, so we're not sure. We're only slightly more curious than Haruhi from Host Club. But anyway, one of these couples went to Japan for a few weeks and totally fell in love with it, and we've had a bit of a bond over that. They're not in our ward anymore, but the ward they are in meets in our building, so we run into them occasionally, and today we ran into Sister A.

We talked for a little bit, and then her friend joined in the conversation, so Sister A introduced us, and said that we're very brainy. Of course we like to be complimented and acknowledged, but this sent my train of thought back to the course of this week and introduced the topic I've been thinking about, which is the fact that, despite all appearances, we don't really consider ourselves to be very smart. (Until somebody starts acting smart at us, and then we're like, "Oh, you think you're smarter than me, do you?")

It's kind of a complicated opinion of ourselves, actually, because on the one hand, we do acknowledge the fact that we're intelligent and we appreciate it when others acknowledge that fact as well (this week was a bizarre exception). On the other hand, neither of us is very confident in our ability to go far in Jeopardy!, for example. We don't get too down on ourselves about it, though, because as long as we know enough to get where we want to go, we're pretty happy.

In fact, we had kind of an aha! moment about that long, long ago. See, in elementary school, we were the smartest, to the point where if one of us raised a hand and answered a question wrong, the entire class would be in shock. Complete and utter shock. (Except for probably a couple of kids who would be like, "Heh. I knew they weren't all that." (Or actually "she wasn't all that," because we were never in the same class in elementary school, except for kindergarten.)) It was really pretty humiliating, and probably played a big part in our current shyness. We knew we weren't perfect, after all.

But we did know we were smart, especially because one of our teachers (Athena had him for fifth grade, I had him for sixth) would use the last five minutes of class to ask trivia questions, awarding baseball cards to the first kid to get the question right (five for each question, unless nobody answered it, and then the next question would be ten cards, then fifteen, until someone got one right). Athena and I both ended up with rather sizable collections (Athena had over three thousand; that was before we developed the heart to let other people answer questions). So we thought we were pretty hot stuff.

Then we made it to middle school, where we were put in classes with all the smartest kids from all the other elementary schools in the area. And we found out that we were not the smartest kids on the block. I think it may have bothered me for like a day, but it wasn't long before I guess a switch went off or something, and it just...didn't bother me anymore. I didn't have to be the smartest, as long as I kept doing what I needed to be doing. I guess everything I learned from cartoons and the scriptures really sank in.

Since then, neither of us has really defined herself as being "smart." I want to say that it comes from an acknowledgement of the fact that there will always be more to learn, but the truth is, it might have just come from laziness. I mean, if you want to really and truly be "the smartest," you have to work at it. And we hated doing research.

Today I'm thankful for having a very nice day at church today, getting a ride home (we stayed late to have temple recommend interviews with the bishop), getting to talk to friends, Oreo finally being satisfied enough to stop eating paper (for today, anyway), and not being too extremely dead when we woke up this morning (we meant to go to bed early because of Daylight Saving Time, but the chapter (of Gyakuten Kenji) just kept going! it was so intense!).