I started to ‘blog’ probably in 2003 when I learnt to build my website using HTML coding (so much work!) with the tiny free personal webspace that the internet provider threw in for all subscribers; it is probably lost in the cyberspace now. It was known as ‘webpage’ or ‘personal homepage’ before blogs popped up.
Make up for Shortcomings
One of my earliest posts was about compensation and making peace with our shortcomings. I wrote something like:
If we are short, we dress tall,
If we are fat, we dress slim,
If we are not intelligent, we work harder than others.
Back in the days, I had assumed that I was quite dumb. It was confusing actually. I fared reasonably well academically, but I was (still am) rigid in ways of thoughts and the lack of flexibility drove people up the walls, including myself!
I made a logical reasoning as to why I did well for school, yet seemingly dumb – I was hardworking. Don’t get me wrong, I did not study more than other students, in fact, I did not study at all for tests or exams. However, I was an attentive student with exceptional memory, and I was very disciplined – I finished homework every day when I got home. The only reason why I did not revise for exams was that my mother received little or no formal education, so she did not know how to guide my sister and me in our studies. I was quite flustered when the teachers reminded us to revise for exams, and I did not know what to do with that. What did it mean by revise? How? I needed explicit instructions.
Crowned as ‘Wise’
Believe it or not, I earned the praises of being ‘wise’ since I was a young child. Let’s say; I philosophized a lot, and it was only natural for me as the world has been a very strange place whereby people do the opposite of what they say. I had to activate my rational thinking at a very young age to make sense of things.
As young as a lower Primary School student, I sat with adults and elderly and even acted as mediator for family conflicts among the neighbours – of course, from time to time, I was caught in the sticky cobweb of troubles too.
I had a deep inferior-complex as a child, for many reasons; it has been difficult for me to accept compliments. When people referred me as ‘wise’, I would be quick to clarify that ‘wise’ was a kind gesture of others because of my lack of intelligence. I honestly believed I was unintelligent.
Wisdom vs. Intelligence
Now I can tell you confidently that I am quite intelligent, as evidenced by a battery of cognitive tests. So, with that knowledge, does it mean that I don’t need to work so hard anymore? I have the potential to learn anything I want, if I wish.
Yet, the truth is, I am a conscientious and hardworking student. See, having higher intelligence is just a gift, not having the wisdom to understand what you are given is a waste of that gift.
It’s a no-brainer really. I hear highly intelligent people ‘confessing’ smugly that they never studied for exams, but they would effortlessly pass anyway. Now, that bit of higher intelligence that they were born with is totally wasted on them.
See, I never have the problem with people born rich. It’s an advantage; what they do with that advantage is what makes the whole difference. I don’t have that advantage so I may have to work harder to pay my tuition fees or whatever; so if they don’t recognize that they have this advantage over most people, they are wasting it.
Similarly, it’s unfathomable when smart kids keep saying that they don’t study at all, yet they either ‘easily’ pass the exams or get fairly good results. Why don’t they just work slightly harder and get straight A’s? I mean, other people have to work their butts off to get straight A’s, but they have the genetic advantage just to work a bit harder to achieve the same excellent result, why wouldn’t they? I feel sorry for their wasted intelligence. I also have a feeling that they are going to end up being less contributing toward the progress of the society because they would just be sitting there waving that seemingly useless piece of IQ test scores that put them on the ‘genius’ level while they do nothing genius in life.
Look, I have a genuine problem with numerosity representation and numbers module. It always tears me up when I tell people this because it’s the most frustrating thing for me. I have a relatively high cognitive function and processing speed, so it means that I learn things very quickly and quite easily – unless I am resistant to the subjects, like marine spare parts or sports. Yet, the same abilities have no use when it comes to numerosity representations.
People have a hard time understanding this, and they would try to teach me in ways that are not helpful. It’s not my resistance, it’s a neurological deficient in numerosity. It means that the part of the brain that processes numbers is not working properly. I still count with fingers, and I have limited capacity in performing mental calculations. I also don’t remember numbers, and do understand this, it is not by choice. I get tired of people insinuating that I don’t try hard enough; I am someone who still tries very hard when everyone else has given up, so never ever tell me that I am not trying hard enough.
I have my special formula sheet. I know many people have a similar problem with symbols, so that doesn’t seem to make my problems unique, but it does. As I have explained, for some of you, it’s a matter of resistance, for me, it’s deficit. Unlike some of you who simply give up learning, I force myself to learn the impossible. If motivated enough, you may be able to remember the symbols, say, if you were to win $10,000 for remembering the symbols correctly, you would be motivated to remember them. For me, it’s like a lost memory card that holds numbers in the brain; I could be very motivated, but the numbers just won’t stick – so, I cried, I really did.
The Arduous Journey
Like I said, I am very conscientious and hardworking. Even with my significant difficulty with numbers, I am determined to take on the psychology degree that comprises of at least three units of statistics; more complex statistics unit if I decide to do the fourth year and post-grad studies. I tried to get help wherever I could.
Murdoch Uni has a CUTL department – Centre for University Teaching and Learning – and the academics in the department are specialised and experienced in their fields of studies. I approached two of them for help. One of them is academic for Maths, and the other is academic specialised in study techniques – remember that I mentioned I didn’t know how to revise for exams? I still don’t! I want to learn how to study efficiently; she was also very helpful in exploring into dyscalculic learning, an area that she is unfamiliar with, so is the rest of the world.
Getting help is not intuitively easy for me, but I am goal-oriented first. I saw the maths academic more times than I saw the academic for study techniques. I only get 30 mins each time, so I did a lot of work before seeing her. I would work out all the questions at my best efforts and then highlighted the areas that I didn’t understand. What some students are mistaking her as is thinking that she will do the work for them. She doesn’t. I do all the work, and then I would tell her what I think would be the appropriate test (statistical tests) to apply for the questions, etc. She would explain and clarify the points that I didn’t understand, but she would never do my questions. Apart from the ‘official’ help, I also asked a friend, Fun, to help explain the concepts of ANOVA to me in ways that I could understand.
Wisdom Leads to Success
Intelligence is like good looks, some people are born with charmingly great looks, no justification needed! Wisdom can be acquired and cultivated through experiences and consciousness. So, stop craving for genetic intelligence – although, you could always pack more knowledge! – but work towards developing the wisdom to put your knowledge to proper use.
I didn’t know I was intelligent, I worked hard. I know I am intelligent, I work even harder. It’s simple logic. If you don’t have a house, work hard to buy one; if you have a house, work harder anyway to purchase a dwelling for the needy! Wisdom often leads to compassion, because wisdom is likely to give you a fulfilled life, and when you are leading a fulfilling life, the only thing left to do is to help others accomplish that too.
Next time, when you hear someone flaunts their high IQ scores but refuses to work hard like others in exams, simply ask them, “What are you afraid of?” Perhaps they are more worried that if they had worked hard, there would be no more excuse for marginal results given their high IQ scores. Sometimes, IQ scores work against us. Be mindful.