This is going to be a very weird post.
Occasionally I get…um extremely excitable about certain things. I ran into a brilliant young blogger who has triggered in me a swirling vortex of thoughts and intellectual hyperactivity.
He beautifully interweaves philosophy, psychology and science into incredibly intense storytelling. I wonder, does he know what a gift he has? I suspect, in part because of some of his writings suggest it, that his friends don’t understand him. I want to tell him it’s not that they won’t understand him. It’s that they can’t. No way, no how.
I wonder if his parents understood him. I wonder could they understand the way his mind works. I hope so. Some parents recognized profound giftedness in their children, others are don’t and mistake it for mental illness.
I wonder about this young man, who from what I can ascertain, is a polymath (in essence a “Renaissance Man” ), expressing himself in music and writing and waxing poetical about the subjects that call to him (like science). He’s incredibly intuitive and insightful. If he doesn’t know, he will soon come to find out how incredibly rare that is and how it intimidates others. He might come to know that people will attempt to shut him down in order to contain his brilliance. I don’t know if people do it on purpose – out of malice. I think sometimes they do it so they don’t feel so stupid themselves.
I want to tell him something…something I sort of picked up along the way, but wish I had known it in my youth.
One can do anything with the belief that one can do anything.
How many times does brilliant young minds get this squashed out of them by others. By friends who care more about fitting in than being different, by teachers who dislike having their authority challenged, by parents who have their own shit going on.
What would have happened if I were born of another family, where intelligence and intellectualism were honored and celebrated? Yes, I slogged through university, paying my way through with my own money at a local state university because my mother wouldn’t allow me to live on campus of an elite private university. And I went to school, and to my microbiology job after that, and came home to listen to my mom and my step-dad fight and drag my baby brother and sister into their fights.
But dammit…I got accepted to the University of Chicago. I should have been able to live on campus…to study with peers who were like me and with professors who would challenge me to go above and beyond everything I ever I thought I was capable of. But I knew then I could not attempt to go to that institution and come home to listen to my parents screaming matches, every single day. I would have killed myself because I knew I would have failed out under the stress, and even though they would have paid my tuition, I knew I would be indebted to them for it. You get nothing for free in my family. It always came with strings attached (and I hate attached strings).
I’m not complaining with the way my life has gone, mind you. I just wonder what life would be like if I had tried to go to that elite university.
However, the university I did attend have a decent reputation. I had learned the value of work and I did get to hang out with some pretty bright people (those engineering geeks were my favorite study buddies). I met my husband there (one of those engineering geeks – who, now that I think about it, could himself have gone to a very prestigious private college for engineering, but who lacked the funds to afford it). 10 years after the fact, amazingly enough I got a job at the very same university I turned down years before. In fact, the years of bench experience in clinical genetics gave me an edge, and when I spoke to the department head, and questioned the fact I didn’t have a master’s degree, he said, “yes, but your 9 years of bench experience is equivalent to that”. Huh, who knew?
And furthermore, had my husband and I gone to our respective first choices, we would never have found each other. We would never have had our trio of beautiful, smart girls.
All I have to say to anybody listening:
Don’t let anybody tell you what you need to do with your life. You know what you are capable of (and there are many years to accomplish them all at one point or another). You will never regret being true to yourself, but you will always regret following the crowd.