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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 2°C
it ain't easy

The many downsides to being extremely intelligent

Being smart is not always all that it’s cracked up to be it seems.

YOU MIGHT ASSUME that having a ridiculously high IQ would come with a bunch of privileges.

For example, you wouldn’t have to study as hard for tests. You’d read about complicated concepts and instantly understand them. You’d be able to take on challenging but exciting jobs like rocket science.

All that may be true, but there are also significant disadvantages to being highly intelligent. To find out what’s so bad about being a near-genius, we checked out the Quora thread “When does intelligence become a curse?“ and picked out the most insightful answers.

Read on and find out what really bugs super-smart people.

1. You often think instead of feel.

Quora user Marcus Geduld says he generally understands his emotions really well and can tell other people about them — but he never feels the relief of expressing them.

“This is a common problem for smart people, especially ones who are highly verbal. They use words as a smoke screen, and it’s all the more effective when their words are true. Less articulate people tend to vent through physicality. They yell, punch, kick, run, scream, sob, dance, jump for joy… I explain. And when I’m done explaining, everything I’ve explained is still stuck inside me, only now it has a label on it.”

2. You might not learn the value of hard work.

A number of Quora users mentioned that intelligent people feel like they can get by with less effort than other people. But a high IQ doesn’t always lead directly to success, and highly intelligent people may never develop the perseverance required to succeed.

According to Kent Fung, ”Intelligence becomes a problem when those who have it discover early in life that they don’t need to work as hard to keep up, and thus never develop a good strong work ethic.”

When you’re highly intelligent, people assume you’ll ace tests and job interviews and even solve relationship problems.

3. People frequently expect you to be a top performer

“You are automatically expected to be the best, no matter what,” writes Roshna Nazir. “You have nobody to talk to about your weaknesses and insecurities.”

Another unfortunate consequence of these unrealistic expectations? You’re panicked about what would happen if you didn’t perform up to snuff.

“This makes you so cautious about your failure that you cannot sometimes afford to take risks just fearing that what would happen if you lose,” writes Saurabh Mehta.

int1 Intelligent people tend to overthink things.

4. People may get annoyed that you keep correcting them in casual conversation

When you know that someone’s just said something completely inaccurate, it’s hard to stifle the urge to clarify.

But you’ve got to be extremely sensitive to the fact that other people may be embarrassed and offended by your actions — or risk losing some friends.

Being intelligent is a bummer, says Raxit Karramreddy, “when you correct people each and every time to a point that they stop hanging around with you or stop talking with you.”

5. You tend to overthink things

A common theme in this Quora thread was the pitfalls of spending too much time contemplating and analyzing.

For one thing, you may get maudlin when you try to find the existential significance of every concept and experience. “You realize how moribund everything is and that nothing really means anything. You search for answers and it drives you crazy,” writes Akash Ladha.

From a more practical standpoint, you may find it impossible to make a choice. Writes Tirthankar Chakraborty: “An understanding of the possible ramifications of your decisions, especially the tendency to over-analyze those consequences, makes it so that the decision is never taken.”

6. People often believe you’re a braggart

Sometimes people assume that when you’re genuinely excited to share something you’ve learned, you’re really just flaunting your knowledge.

It’s frustrating, says Bill Vanyo, “when people say things like, ‘He thinks he’s so smart,’ or, ‘He thinks he knows everything,’ when you were only trying to be helpful, and weren’t ‘showing off.’”

7. You understand how much you don’t know

Being super-intelligent often means appreciating the limits of your own cognition. Try as you might, you’ll never be able to learn or understand everything.

Writes Mike Farkas: “Intelligence is a curse when … the more you know, the more you feel the less you know.”

- Shana Lebowitz

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