WORK-LIFE BALANCE / OCT. 01, 2015
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10 Disadvantages of Being Incredibly Smart

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once wrote that "I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing." Other great minds have quipped that man’s intelligence is his realization that he is insignificant. Indeed, there have been endless ideas, thoughts and interpretations of intelligence and being smart over the years. But is being smart a good thing? 

See AlsoHow Being Smart is Not Necessarily Making You Wealthy 

In an age where every answer to your question can be solved by a quick search engine search. In a time when the art of conversation has been essentially eviscerated. In an era where references to famous philosophers, discussions on economics and conversations about classic literature are frowned upon. Being smart may seem like an advantage, but it actually has various disadvantages. 

Whether you’re discussing the concepts espoused by Carlyle or pontificating on 19th century Italian operas, maintaining a level of intelligence isn’t always a good thing. People around you detest everything about you. Others hold an incredible amount of expectations from you. Your social circle diminishes each time you open your mouth. 

By the end of this article, you may ask the question: is it better to be smart or just mediocre? 

Here are 10 disadvantages of being incredibly smart:

1. Everyone Turns to You For Everything

Since you can write 1,000 words on big data analysis, install blinds and curtains and summarize Leo Tolstoy’s "War and Peace" and "The Death of Ivan Ilych," everyone turns to you for everything. If they’re in panic mode or they have very little time to get something done, they will turn to you for assistance. They know you’re a kind person and you won’t turn someone down when they’re in a tough spot. But later, they’ll take a powder and you won’t hear from them. 

It’s worse if you specialize in law or medicine because friends, family and acquaintances will regularly turn to you for free advice. Of course, later on, they will talk behind your back and claim that you think you’re a know-it-all and the greatest man that ever lived (see later).

2. The Dunning–Kruger Effect

Another Socrates quote for you today:  

I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know." 

The Dunning-Kruger Effect refers to the idea that people fail to adequately assess their level of competence (or perhaps incompetence) at a certain task. Thus, they conclude they are much more competent than everyone else. This unawareness ultimately takes away their ability to analyze their own performance and leads to the individual being overconfident in the matter at hand. 

Does this sound like you? If so, then you may empathize with this notion.

3. You're Thinking and Not Feeling

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Observation, introspection, analysis and thinking are very important to you. You’re the 21st century Sherlock Holmes in the sense that you just need to think for a little while to get something done or come up with a solution. You’re not the person to have a knee-jerk reaction. However, as you’re thinking and mulling over ideas, you’re not feeling anything.  

When watching a motion picture, instead of feeling for characters, you’re deconstructing the plot. When listening to J.S. Bach, you’re thinking of the notes rather than feeling each of those notes. When looking at a Caravaggio painting, you’re analyzing the brush strokes instead of feeling what the models are going through.

4. Hard Work is a Foreign Concept to You

Everything comes naturally easy to you. Ever since your fourth grade fractions test when you aced it without doing any sort of studying, you’ve realized that you’re naturally brilliant and everything comes easy to you. Simply put: hard work is a foreign concept to you. So when you are faced with a difficult task, you decide to just procrastinate and complain because you’re not accustomed to the idea of hard work. 

5. People's Expectations of You Are High

If you’re given an assignment from your boss, she will immediately have high expectations of the result. If you’re friend has asked you for assistance on his income tax return, he will want to have the highest refund possible. Unfortunately, this amount of pressure can do a lot of harm to you. It’s simply not fair to have a staggering degree of expectations from you. You’re not a machine, you’re a human being who sometimes errs (but they don’t know that). 

6. Envy, Disdain, Annoyed: The Day in the Life of You

Someone has uttered an incorrect fact about the War of 1812. Your girlfriend believes Calvin Coolidge came before Warren G. Harding. And, for whatever reason, your boss thinks Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman were captured by the Nazis in the Alfred Hitchcock film "Notorious." You correct them all, much to their displeasure. Even when they ask you to fix something in their home and you do, they will be envious and annoyed by your astute nature.  

People purposely ignore you because they fear they will be correct in their grammar, posture or description of a restaurant they had patronized minutes before bumping into you in the street.

7. Overthinking as Opposed to Doing

There’s an old joke: two Frenchmen are sitting at a café. One of them comes up with an idea. The other person says, "Let’s put that theory into practice." The other individual responds, "Let’s put that practice into theory." 

As an intellect, you’re prone to overthink things instead of just doing something. Yes, you’re an observer and you like to explore each avenue before taking one step outside of your home. Remember, though, life is sometimes about making mistakes, and that is often the best way to enjoy what life has to offer. Sure, you may not have taken the right route, but just think of the adventures!

8. Everyone Thinks You're Bragging

At a dinner party, you’re pontificating on quantum physics or the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. You think this would be interesting conversation (it is), but others don’t want to hear it for the simple fact that they conclude that you’re bragging. Balderdash! You’re simply expressing something you learned and wanted to share it with others. Unfortunately, people will ignore you like the Black Plague because they don’t want to feel they’re being talked at and lectured.

9. Your Social Skills & Common Sense Are Lacking

Have you ever noticed that a lot of the brilliant people around maintain a paucity of social skills and common sense? Sure, not every single genius is socially awkward or void of common sense, but there are many. Agatha Christie wrote in a Hercule Poirot story that writers purposely seclude themselves because they can’t be around others so they come up with their own characters and conversations. Human interaction is key to a fulfilling life, but if you can’t socialize then you could be missing out.

10. Zero Challenges in Your Life

What is life?  

Theologians may purport that it’s about overcoming obstacles and reaching a meaningful end prior to your death. Others will say it’s meaningless and no matter what you do, it will result in nothing upon your demise.  

Whatever the case, if you have zero challenges, zero hurdles and zero obstacles, then is this, perhaps, a wasted life? Have you spent most of your life living the easy life where everything is just low and lazy? In life, mistakes are just as important as being right, and being wrong can be a lot of fun at times because you could very well have a moment of eureka!

See AlsoHow to Make Yourself Smart 

Everybody wishes they could be smart. Heck, millions of people who aren’t the brightest probably think they already are. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with coming to terms with your own intelligence. If you use your adeptness wisely and modestly then it will prove of tremendous value. However, if you neglect it, abuse it or deny it then it will be all for naught. 

Do you consider yourself a smart person? If so, how do you handle it? Let us know in the comments section... 

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