Friday, March 18, 2011

It occasionally occurs to me...

...that I am pretty much destined to be awkward and not fit for polite company.

Case in point: this morning, at work, when I made (to my mind, anyway) a truly hilarious joke about Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and my sad inability to be two places simultaneously, and was rewarded with a blank stare. Call that one an epic human interaction fail.

I don't like to talk about this much, because most people's response to "Man, being smart sucks" is usually "Cry me a damn river," and I can understand that. It's kind of insensitive to complain about being smarter than everyone when said everyone would really like to be able to read at a rate of one hundred-plus pages an hour (and still be able to retain everything), not have to study, and to *get* things faster. At the same time, though, being able to do these things is pretty damn overrated.

Especially if you're a girl.

Even more so if you're a physically attractive girl.

It's like the whole world expects you to be a moron, and is stunned into silence when you can string a compound-complex sentence with multiple three-syllable words together. Sure, it's fun to make people look like jackasses the first hundred or so times, but over the course of months, years, decades, it really starts to wear thin. The expectations of idiocy bring you down, and you tire of constantly having to prove yourself to people. Once, in college, someone referred to me as a "nerd groupie" because I had gone out with a series of engineering students.

I was smarter than all of them.

I made better grades than they did, in a harder major.

Without studying at all.

I graduated with double honors (Latin and Departmental).

None of them did.

But since I was a girl and a humanities major (Oh, no! A stereotypically feminine discipline!), I was deemed a groupie.

Insulting, yeah? Imagine a lifetime of that. Of being expected to underperform, to be less than, to be a "hard worker" (I am many things. This is not one of them), to be something just below truly brilliant, all because of some idiotic interpretation of biology. Throw in my religious upbringing (women are inferior to men, you're worthless if you're not a virgin when you get married, blah blah blah), and it's pretty obvious why I wound up becoming a feminist and an atheist. I didn't have much of a choice in the matter; it was either deny who I was, or reject everything I was raised to believe. I chose the latter.

It wasn't much of a choice, honestly.

I know that many choose the misery they know over the unguaranteed shot at happiness, but I guess I'm not wired that way.

Either way, choosing to be myself has brought both happiness and sadness, in the long run. I've been dumped or not-asked-on-a-second-date by guys who were intimidated by my education and intelligence more times than I can count (when men say they want a smart girl, they are lying 90% of the time. What they want is someone who is juuuuuuust quick enough to keep up with them, to get their jokes, but not someone who is their superior in any way). I've probably unintentionally alienated a similar number of people (and been alienated by even more. I hate reality TV!). At the same time, I have my freedom, and I'm not voluntarily crushing myself under the weight of what other people think I should be-- and, despite all apparent odds, I've managed to find a number of friends (and a certain guy I'm dating) who love me for who I am. Weirdnesss, strange humor, philosophizing, and all.

Nevertheless, I don't relate well to most people, and that causes me a lot of angst most days. Which is what it all comes back to, my inability to have a normal conversation in which I don't say or do something that makes me look like a jackass who lords how smart they are over others. I don't do it on purpose, I really don't. It just doesn't always occur to me that not everyone has read Copenhagen, or sees the conflict in the notion that pleasant sounds connote a pleasant meaning in the context of the word "pulchritude" (sounds awful, yeah? It means beauty), or spends their free time contemplating the relative merits of existentialism and pragmatism. I don't even know what regular people think about. No clue. Seriously. So there's this giant cognitive and experiential gap that I have no way of bridging, and it invariably leads to me feeling like a giant douche.

And that's why I'm shy and don't like to talk to new people. Here endeth the lesson.

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