when you believe you’re stupid

October 30, 2012 | 61 Comments

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  • http://www.chillmamachill.com Babe_Chilla

    My 22 year old cousin was trying to decide between being a binder full of women or a member of Pussy Riot for Halloween. As we discussed this over pizza at grandpa’s birthday, I kept thinking “must look up Pussy Riot because it sounds….like a riot?”. And then I plum forgot to look up what I didn’t know which seemed like something I should know, even if I already know my little cousin is about 75% smarter than I’ll ever be.

    So you just taught me what Pussy Riot is. And I got straight A’s in school!

    You learned me woman, you did!

    • Shannon

      You can thank google for that.

      Four times I read your first sentence and four times I read “My 22 year old son…” Weird.

      Thanks for the love. Let’s dress up as Pussy Riot next year and engage in some Halloween Crazy. Mark it on your calendar: October 31 2013. At least I think that’s when Halloween is next year.

      • http://www.chillmamachill.com Babe_Chilla

        Fuck no. I would never tell ANYONE about my 22 year old son.

        It is PENNED in. I said PENNED you perv.

  • http://just-mum.blogspot.com/ Jessica @ Just a Mum?

    I’m the same way – always feel a bit out of it when people start talking about current events. Yes, I realise there is a world outside my door, and that maybe I should try and know something about it. But I just… don’t. I’ll even confess that I try not to watch the news. I can hear the gasps and shaking heads. It’s just so freaking depressing to hear about all the crap that people do to each other that I can’t handle it.

    I did really well in school – book smart, I guess, but don’t ask me about anything that’s going on in the world. Or geography. For the love of god, do not ask me about geography.

    • Natasha

      God yes. Geography. Ugh.

    • Shannon

      I’s is baaaad at geography. The worst.

      I try to listen to the news on my way to work. It feels less depressing than watching it. Not much though.

    • http://hellofisher.com Steve Fisher

      Ummm… geography is super cool.

  • http://www.bigloveforgirlsatrisk.wordpress.com Kim

    Here’s the thing about feelings: Very few people know they have them. The ones that do are often scared of them. Aaaand most people think ‘hungry’ is a feeling.

    No offense, but there are A LOT of people who don’t give two rotten stinky rat arseholes about Smart-Steve. Yes, I think he’s damn bright and full of techno-jib-jab, but I also think the world would be a whole lot better off with Shannon feeling her feelings, healing her heart and teaching people to be open and do the same a long the way.

    My two cents.

    P.S. Your new friend Anne, looks like a uber-cool-writer-girl, but I too have ADD and would never in a fucking million years attempt to read one of those mile long blog posts. Again, no offense.

    • Shannon

      You mean, they care about Steve, but just not that he’s smart?

      Anne’s posts are like academic papers, so they require length. It’s a different kind of reading, for sure. I enjoy knowing something I didn’t by the end.

      • Kim

        Some people don’t care about me. Some people don’t care about you. Some people don’t care about Steve but it doesn’t make him any less smart.

        And I totally agree with Natasha who wins the award for most loving intention in a response on a blog. I think she has a good point. You are super smart at the things that interest you and you are not dumb, but insecure. Astute. But ‘truthfully’ I am too in certain circles. I love that you explore this.

        • Shannon

          WHO DOESN’T CARE ABOUT ME OR YOU OR STEVE. You must be mistaken. ;)

          Yeah, Natasha was thorough, wasn’t she?

          Dude, ask me almost anything about makeup and I’ll blow your socks off.

          Gah. Insecurity can kiss my perfect ass. I’m so over her.

          • Natasha

            I was thorough because I deeply hate you believing this. It HURTS me. I could cry right now thinking about it. Especially because I think it’s so not true. If I thought it was true, I’d pretend I was busy when you posted this. It’s like, I want to give you every single argument I can think of for why it’s not true and what is more convincing than SCIENCE?! Like, aren’t you excited that I found facts for why you’re not stupid? Psychology is a kind of science!

            IF I took up too much space in your comments, breaking some sort of commenting rule I don’t care about, I won’t be offended if you take it down and just treat it as an email I sent to you. Whatevs.


          • Natasha

            Also, Paul said, “Intelligence isn’t information.” That’s what he wanted me to say to you. Pretty succinct bastard, eh?

        • http://hellofisher.com Steve Fisher

          Pretty sure everyone cares about me. EVERYONE.

        • Natasha

          Aw, thanks.

    • http://audrawilliams.livejournal.com Audra

      Anne’s posts are really conversational and accessible. It’s one of my favourite things about her writing.

    • Shannon

      For some reason there’s no reply button on your latest comments. No such thing as too many comments.

      And yes, thanks for the science. Love it. Love science. Even though it’s hard. :)

  • Kyla

    There are all kinds of brilliant… I happen to love the kind you show through your writing and insight… Smart is only one adjective and its importance is a matter of perspective… I’d take caring, thoughtful, insightful, courageous, funny, and beautiful any day over smart! And, for the record- I’ve never heard of Pussy Riot either!

    • Shannon

      I just wanna know stuff about stuff! (whiney voice)

      • Natasha

        I so know how you feel. And in 2009, I wrote a similar post to this one that you wrote. I felt SO stupid and I actually, literally believed it was permanent. And you’re often telling me that I’m brilliant, so….

  • Natasha

    It’s not entirely true that I wouldn’t date someone who didn’t know what was bigger: the earth or the sun. I would date and sleep with women who didn’t know. Men, no. (I think I’m more attracted to women than men, OR I have been socialised to not need women to be as intellectual as men.) But I wouldn’t be able to settle down with either a man or a woman who didn’t know if that lack of knowledge was indicative of where they were at with general knowledge, simply because I need to have my partner be someone I can talk to about certain things, and who will feed me intellectual tidbits.

    But equally important to me is a partner who is emotionally intelligent, who can work through conflicts with me in a mature and sophisticated way and I absolutely believe this is you, and that it’s NOT a lot of people, including people who are very intellectually gifted in other areas.

    Also, had I reminded you that the sun is the source of light and warmth for other planets too and that we revolve around the sun, or offered other clues, I am confident that you would have known the answer. It sounds like you freeze with anxiety when questions are asked of you and that prevents you from accessing your memory.

    Here’s something you’ll find interesting: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2009/11/11/learned-helplessness/ Read and watch the video. The video especially is you.

    Also this: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

    And this: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/23/confirmation-bias/

    And also? Self-fulfilling prophecy. You have this idea about yourself. It’s deeply rooted. You only notice the information that proves it. You set up situations so that you’ll prove it to yourself. And your lack of self-confidence actually makes you dumber because it befuddles your thinking the same way it did for the people in that class room who were trying to unscramble the word “America”.

    Come on, Shan. You can break through this basic psychology just by understanding what is taking place and that we are ALL vulnerable to these effects and biases and heuristics.

    You are not stupid, you are insecure.

    I have a dating profile on the gutter of dating sites and I say straight out that I need someone to be intelligent before I can do anything with them, that it’s practically a fetish, that I just can’t “get it up” unless they can have witty banter with me and converse about intellectual things. Tons of men (seriously, tons—and I don’t even have a photo up or anything) write me and will say “I’ve got what you’re looking for” or “I’m intelligent” or “I’m the whole package”. And inevitably, they have a ton of grammatical and spelling errors or they are just terribly boring or otherwise show signs of not being what I had in mind. Then there are men who will write me and they’ll just be witty and interesting and thus will SHOW me that they are intelligent. They “get” what I’m saying, and they recognise in me something they relate to and they just know how to write to me. (Obviously, with what I’m saying here, it’s no secret that I consider myself to be intelligent. I’ll qualify this in a bit.)

    The second category of men? They are you. Or, you would not write me at all because you’d wrongly be intimidated. But if you got past that, yeah, your message would be grammatically correct, and witty, and interesting. Because you’re fucking intelligent, you idiot!

    It’s often the case that intelligent people think they aren’t and stupid people think they are. You need intelligence to recognise intelligence. And you need intelligence to be witty and as playful as you are with words and ideas. You need intelligence to be as quick on the draw as you can be sometimes. You need intelligence to understand ideas, to be able to step outside of easy dichotomies, out of binaries that fence up other people’s brains so that they can feel secure. You don’t live with simple binaries, Shan. You understand big concepts. You don’t remember it all right away? Oh my god! What are we going to do about that? YOU’RE TOTALLY NORMAL! Shit!

    Long-term learning requires repetition. I fall behind when I miss one class, too. I did well in French, without any studying, just by showing up. But as soon as I missed one class, that stuff I missed was really hard to learn. And when I’m stressed out, I have ADD and can’t remember anything. I barely graduated high school. I had to have my math teacher pass me out of mercy and my literature teacher too. Because I was too stressed out to focus and come up with anything at all to say about Hamlet. But when my primary needs are met, I can learn.

    I freaked out at my history prof saying that I just couldn’t remember any history, that it just fell out of my brain and I’d never be able to know all this stuff and he was just really good at history, and he told me that he forgot things all the time and had to look them up, and that this is what people do. They get a foundation of knowledge, and they lose it but they know where to go to look it up to refresh their memories. He said that it took him years of specialisation and repetition to know what he knows. And yet, there are a lot of things he doesn’t know, right? He doesn’t know psychology like I do. He made me feel a lot better about learning, about my abilities.

    Also, we learn easily that which interests us. If you haven’t been interested in politics, you’re not going to remember politics. And if you’re not interested, that’s okay. Maybe one day you will be. I know almost nothing about Canadian politics. Sometimes I feel a tad ashamed, because I think it’s sort of irresponsible of me, but I don’t feel embarrassed at what I don’t know because I know that I’m just not interested enough right now. I’ve been preoccupied and, anyway, American politics is just so much more interesting and I know quite a bit about that!

    You know what you know well. And you know it because it interests you. And it interests you because you’ve been trying to survive, being your own caretaker, making up for a deficit left by your mom.

    If you don’t know Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, look it up. You have some basic needs that still need to be met, and you’re judging yourself on not being the master of the top of that pyramid. Relax.

    You have the ability to understand. If you don’t remember everything you understand, you’re just normal and you only think that everyone else has a better memory than you. They don’t.

    Don’t concentrate on learning things just because you think they’re the things you should know. Only learn what interests you and then you’ll learn it more easily and then you’ll feel confident about that and your abilities and then maybe you’ll calm the fuck down and then you’ll feel more confident about approaching new topics. Learn how to say, “I don’t know enough about that: would you like to fill me in?” or “I’ve been interested in following what’s happening with that but just haven’t had the time: can you fill me in?”

    That’s all I have time to write. Hope it helps. I mean every word.

    • Shannon

      I’ll have to check out those links… but it seems like you need a guest post on my blog. :)

      Also, I do know Maslow. I wrote a whole paragraph about it and then deleted it because I couldn’t make it coherent. But you did!

      I don’t really want to learn about things I’m not interested in. But I do want to learn about things that affect me, like politics. I would like to learn how to make an informed vote. I would like to learn how the whole system works.

      A lot of it I really don’t care about. And you’re right, I often feel like I should care about it.

      • Natasha

        I wrote a guest post because that’s how much I care about you ditching this belief that I’ve been saying for two years is not true. Consider me exasperated and full of love.

        • Natasha

          (Also, “That’s all I have time to write” was meant to be funny.)

    • http://audrawilliams.livejournal.com Audra

      Whoa I think I love you.

      • Natasha

        Let’s make out!

    • Shannon

      I think I just replied to kim about science when i meant to reply to you. see: science is hard.

    • http://www.changethetopic.com Mrs.Birdman

      This is the most amazing reply. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the blog post, and this reply!

      • Shannon

        Thanks, lady! I have the best commenters. :)

    • Shannon

      I LINKED to Maslow’s hierarchy. I knew I did.

  • Natasha

    Oh yeah. And I’ve heard of Pussy Riot but didn’t bother looking into it, to the dismay of my long-forgotten feminist blog. Meh. Whatever. Ask me about string theory. (Just kidding!)

    • Shannon

      Tell me about string theory, Natasha!

      • Natasha

        Give me a few months to learn something about it first. Then, I’m all yours.

  • http://hellofisher.com Steve Fisher

    Based on past experience seeing people meet and interact with you I can safely say that Anne, Ellen, Maggie, and Zooey would all be enthralled talking with you. I have never thought of you as stupid. You are my smart, sexy partner in life.

    • Shannon

      I’ve never thought you think I’m stupid. At least I don’t think I thought this.

      Love you.

  • Eden

    I am always so surprised when I find out someone thinks of me as a Smart Person – I tend to think of myself as largely ornamental. So thank you!

    I think you and are are very similar in a lot of ways, and I like the bejeesus out of you.

    • Shannon

      Ornamental. Pffft. You are Seriously Sexy and Seriously Smart. You should start an SSSS club of which you are the Grand Poobah.

      I like the bejeesus out of you, too, Eden. Although, I’m not sure I had much bejeesus in me to begin with.

  • http://www.karengreen.ca karengreeners

    You have very invested commenters, I’m impressed.

    There are a million different kinds of smart, and there’s no way anybody could be – or expect someone else to be – all of them. Yes, in my world – a world where so many capable, intelligent, motivated women spend half their life online – I’m disappointed that those same women don’t flip over to a news site for 5 minutes a day. But that’s my bias.

    You don’t seem not smart to me at all. You seem incredibly self-aware, and that is a very valuable kind of smart. And you’re a good writer, which in my books, trumps pretty much everything else we could be doing online.

    • Kim

      And THAT’S the smartest thing I’ve read AAAALLL day.

    • Shannon

      You’re my new fave. Thanks.

      My very smart friend wrote this on Facebook about your costumes:

      I consider someone most intelligent when they are INQUISITIVE and admit they don’t know everything about a topic. That says more to me than actual knowledge. Plus people love to talk about things they know about. Win-win. Also, people dress up as Pussy Riot (and other things of course) for Halloween to start these conversations- “what are you dressed up as?” “We’re Pussy Riot and this [insert info] is why you might care.”

      I thought that was good insight. You planted some seeds at the Karaoke party. Made people think. Some of them went home and looked up the Pussy Riot. I saw one of them blog about it. And that’s amazing!

  • http://www.sewtara.com SewTara

    I’m totally oblivious to current events! Like *totally*. My hubby is usually flabbergasted, well I suppose he’s gotten used to it. I don’t watch/listen/pay attention to the news because it’s always full of bad stuff, stuff that doesn’t get erased by talking about the monkey that’s snuggling a kitten as the last story as some sort of palette cleanser.

    As well, I have no clue what’s going on with the current teacher job messiness here, I probably should since the end is near and we’re supposed to strike, or work to rule, or leave early on Mondays . . . or something but meh.

    The universe sure did a good job making us roomies! *hugs*

    • Shannon

      Why do you think we’re so uninvested in something that DIRECTLY affects us? I’m curious to know what this is about.

      Part of it for me is I feel like, “What can I really do about it?” Which is a whole world of trouble, but those are my honest sentiments.

      I wanna teach Emma that’s she’s powerful enough to be a voice of change, even as one. I’m sure not living that though.

  • http://bellejarblog.wordpress.com Annabelle

    Okay so I think you are super smart. You write with a lot of wit and intelligence, and smartness doesn’t necessarily come from knowing current events. I mean, really, anyone can read the newspaper, you know? But not just anyone can write the way you write.

    Also, you could totally blog about feelings AND things you’re passionate about, if that’s something you want to do. If not, totally cool too! Just throwing that out there – and I would be happy to help in any way I was able to.

    I feel like I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking of myself as smart, either. I think I read a lot, and that I’ve been really lucky with my blog, but I’m not amazing or anything. But thank you for the kind things you said, they really made my day :)

    p.s. Haaaa your friend is right, my posts are SO. LONG. I am waaaay too verbose.

    p.p.s. Hugs

    • Shannon

      You are amazing, actually. I’ll fight you to the death on this.

      I would love to blog about certain issues, but I feel like there’s a ceiling on my ability to talk about things with intelligence and I don’t want to do an issue diservice. And usually people want to get into it.

      It’s like when I started teaching French Immersion. If the kids didn’t get what I was saying first round, I was like, “Dudes, I have one way to explain this in French; if you don’t get it, we’re all screwed!”

      • Natasha

        You have a knack for breaking things down to their most central parts, though, and writing them beautifully, well-structured. And you know that there are people who don’t know what you know and who listen to you, so you can have an effect.

  • http://www.mamatobean.wordpress.com Jodi

    Hi. Anne linked me to you and I’m glad she did.

    Cause I could be you. I was almost in tears reading what you wrote because it rang so true for me.

    I had even, this day, had a convo with my smart hubby about how I feel less than smart when talking to people but with blogging, with writing, I can edit and re-edit and google and build up my smarts online.

    But feelings. I’m working on those too. :)

    Anyhow, just wanted to say thank you for sharing. Take care, I’ll visit again. :D

    • Shannon

      Hi Jodi—I’m glad Anne linked us up, too.

      I’ve had this conversation many times with Steve after a night out, surrounded by conversations I wish I could have contributed to. I’m left feeling uninteresting and stuck.

      And yes to the writing. I always have google open when I’m writing. It takes me AT LEAST four hours to write a post because I edit so much. Exhausting. I wish I could fire stuff off, but it’s just not in me.

      Thank YOU for sharing.

  • http://www.changethetopic.com Birdman

    This sure makes me wish that we had met up at Blissdom. Partly because I like seeing chicks make out, and just knowing it is a possibility will keep me happy for days, but mostly because I used to feel the same way. I was classified as gifted in Grade 5, but have never had enough drive to do anything. Like you, I did just enough to get by. Well, until high school. Then I found booze and weed, and I forgot to do enough to get by.
    Until now. I’m with a woman who fully believes in me, and who thinks I’m smart. She’s got a university degree, too. She is the one who turned me on to blogging and exploring my creative side.
    If I could, I would hug you and Steve. I’m glad he sees you for you, and not for what anyone else sees.

    • Shannon

      We’ll hug someday. I know it. Just like I know that some days Maggie and/or Zooey will makeout with me. Okay, I know the former more than I know the latter, but I have a good feeling about both.

      Yay for partners who kick our asses. Hug yours for me.

      • Natasha

        I have a connection to Maggie! My friend Kayla is her cousin.

        Maggie threesome!

  • Jocelyn

    “I sometimes wonder if I have undiagnosed ADD. I don’t retain information AT ALL. You can tell me where you were yesterday and two sentences later I’ll ask you again like you never told me in the first place.”

    Me too! me too!

    “Sure, I’m fun and loveable and teachable and full of common sense, but I worry it’s not enough to keep people around.”

    Me too! me too!

    I want to start writing again, but I don’t want to be bad at it. So, I won’t. Unless I do.

    ALSO!! EMAIL ME YOUR ADDRESS. I want to send you “How to be a Woman” – it’s such a fun read, and I’ve loved every minute of it but I keep thinking of you and “Shannon’s (*) book will be so much better than this!”

    (*) almost typed Sharon. See? ME TOO.

    • Shannon

      Oooh! I want to read your writing!

  • Christina B.

    Listen, Kiddo. I have a Master’s Degree in Medieval Literature, and I teach undergraduates English, and I don’t know which is bigger either: the earth or the sun. I also am going to go visit a friend in Peru, who is doing her PhD field work there, for cripe’s sake, and I had to go and look at a map because I wasn’t sure where Peru is. Um, yeah.

    I have discovered that our brains are all differently wired, and mine is wired excessively in one or two areas, and just sort of vacant in others.

    Charm is something that people take CLASSES for — hell, there used to be CHARM SCHOOLS. Yet, charm is something you appear to have in spades. You never had to learn it. And when you blend charm and an affinity with language, well, THEN You are able to charm people through your WORDS ALONE!! Many of us have never met you, but yet we like you tremendously. How totally Cyrano de Bergerac of you — and he weren’t no dummy.

    • Shannon

      Ten years of silence. You saved it up to say ALL THE GOOD THINGS.


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